Taneyuki Dan Harada

Name Taneyuki Dan Harada
Born June 17 1923
Birth Location Los Angeles, California
Generational Identifier

Taneyuki Dan Harada (1923-2020) was an oil painter born June 17, 1923, who as a young man, studied painting at the Tanforan and Topaz art schools, along with other incarcerated artists.

He was born in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, but at age seven, he moved to Japan with his mother following the death of his father. In 1938, when Harada was fourteen, the family returned to the United States when his mother remarried and settled in Oakland, California.

In 1942, he and his family were incarcerated at the Tanforan Assembly Center , where he began painting at the Tanforan art school founded by Issei artists Chiura Obata and George Matsusaburo Hibi , along with other Nisei artists such as Miné Okubo and Frank Taira . He was soon moved to the concentration camp in Topaz , Utah, where he continued studying art at the school there, with Hibi as his mentor. When the War Relocation Authority distributed mandatory "loyalty questionnaires" to all inmates, Harada, who is kibei, decided to answer "no-no" to questions 27 and 28. His stepfather also answered "no" to question 28 and requested repatriation to Japan. Harada continued to paint in camp after being transferred to the Leupp Isolation Center in Arizona, before he was transferred in December 1943, to Tule Lake Tule Lake Segregation Center in California, and placed in the stockade with several hundred other people. After he was released from the stockade and placed in a regular barrack room, he eventually joined the Tule Lake art school and resumed his painting. He even painted a portrait of a 1940s movie star onto the wall of his barrack, put a frame around it, and painted the frame. He was also commissioned by Dr. Marvin Opler, community analyst at Tule Lake, to paint a portrait of his two daughters and a few pen drawings of camp life. [1] In 1945, he held his first one-person exhibition in the ironing room of Tule Lake's Block 5. He and his family received permission to leave Tule Lake on March 17, 1946 and went to the San Francisco Bay Area, where they found temporary housing with many other Japanese families in Richmond, California. Although Harada renounced his American citizenship, it was a decision he regretted and through the work of attorney Wayne M. Collins , he was able to restore his U.S. citizenship in 1959.

After the war, Harada enrolled at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, where he studied commercial design and illustration and was greatly influenced by the work of Ben Shahn. He supported himself by working as a fruit picker and gardener's helper and participated in annual exhibitions sponsored by the Oakland Art Gallery, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. He received the James D. Phelan Award in 1949. His paintings are found in the collections of the San Francisco Fine Art Museum (which later became the M.H deYoung Museum and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor), the Autry Museum of Western Heritage, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

He held his final two solo exhibitions in 1950 before turning to a new career in computer programming and working for the federal government, but following retirement, he returned to his painting. In 1998, he was featured in a show at the Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland called "Arts After Incarceration." He lived in Berkeley, California until his death on December 9, 2020.

Authored by Patricia Wakida

For More Information

Chang, Gordon H., Mark Dean Johnson, and Paul J. Karlstrom, editors. Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970 . Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008.

Harada, Taneyuki Dan. Densho Interview by Martha Nakagawa. San Jose, California, November 30, 2010.

The View from Within: Japanese American Art from the Internment Camps, 1942-1945 . Los Angeles: Japanese American National Museum, UCLA Wight Art Gallery, and UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 1992.


  1. Densho Digital Repository, Taneyuki Dan Harada Interview, November 30, 2010, Segment 21.

Last updated Jan. 29, 2024, 7:14 p.m..