Takamura Postcard Set Twelve different images from Kango Takamura’s Early Days of Manzanar watercolor series, circa 1942-1943.
Kango Takamura was born in Japan in January 1895 and immigrated to Hawaii when he was 17 years old. He eventually secured a job as a photo retoucher for RKO Studios in Los Angeles and worked for RKO until the outbreak of World War II. He was detained by the FBI in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and then released and allowed to join his family at Manzanar.
In an interview with Deborah Gesensway and Mindy Roseman for their book Beyond Words: Images from America’s Concentration Camps (Cornell University, 1985), Mr. Takamura discussed his art. “Back in Japan as a child I had wanted to be an artist. But in Hawaii, I saw an exhibit of all kinds of paintings. But I don’t understand these. This is not a place to learn art, I thought, I think photography is a very beautiful art, you see. That’s why I became a photographer and not an artist.” However, Manzanar internees were not allowed to use cameras, so Mr. Takamura chose to document everyday life with watercolor.
Many of these images include Mr. Takamura’s comments describing the scene he’s painted. About a gathering of girls: “Did you ever see such individual dress attire? This is a high school gym class I ran into on the dusty field next to block 7. Facing each other in circle, they would clap their hands, say something, laugh. Off in the corner, another class came dashing by in a cloud of dust. But school is wonderful.”
This collection of watercolors by Kango Takamura was a gift from Mr. Takamura to Genevieve W. Carter, Superintendent of Education at Manzanar. Courtesy of the Eastern California Museum, Independence, California.
Set of 12 postcards comes in a cellophane sleeve with thumbnail images of each card and biographical information about Kango Takamura.