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Miyatake Family (Alan & Toyo)

Updated: Oct 24, 2019

Alan Miyatake was born to Archie and Takeko Miyatake in Los Angeles. Being a part of a family business, he was around Little Tokyo all his whole life. Every activity revolved around Little Tokyo and the JA community. Alan has been the owner and photographer at Toyo Miyatake Studio since 1992. It feels like he’s worked here his whole life. He actually started when he was 16 years old. Alan takes pride in photographing 3 and 4 generations of families. Recently, he had the honor to photograph Fujima Kansuma. It was a very historic studio moment as Fujima Kansuma has been photographed by his grandfather, Toyo and his father, Archie. Alan and his daughter, Sydney are currently working towards celebrating the studio’s 100th anniversary in 2023.

Toyo Miyatake, Alan's grandfather was interned at the Manzanar War Relocation Center. After smuggling in a camera lens and making a homemade camera, Toyo went on to become the official photographer of Manzanar camp life. During his imprisoned stay there, he was approached by the camp director, Ralph Merritt and author Allen Eaton. Through offers and negotiation by Ralph Merritt, Toyo was commissioned to travel to Poston and the Gila River internment camps to photograph “Camp Art” collected by Allen Eaton. Toyo, his son Archie and cousin-in-law Mike Nishida were the team of photographer, assistant and all around technician/handyman set out to travel to Arizona. Once at Poston, Toyo and Archie began photographing camp art as well as camp life.

Years after Toyo’s passing, Archie continued archiving Toyo’s Manzanar collection. Toyo’s ambition for risking his life by documenting camp life, as he told his son in camp, “It's my duty as a photographer, to document this tragedy so this never happens again!” Archie kept his dream alive by cataloging his collection so people can learn more about this terrible part of American history. Today, Toyo’s grandson, Alan Miyatake continues Toyo’s cause and shares Toyo’s story to future generations.

Mr. Sata, carving a lamp stand

A group photograph was taken at the Gila River Internment camp in Arizona with Yosh Kosaka, an internee at Gila, Toyo Miyatake, Archie Miyatake, and Mike Nishida. They traveled in a 1929 Ford 4 door sedan from Manzanar to Poston and Gila to photograph arts and crafts made by intenees for the book “Beauty Behind Barbed Wire” by Allen Eaton. The project was funded by the Guggenheim Foundation.

Poston Internment Camp II swimming pool with a shaded area for cooling off in the Arizona desert heat. This was built by internees


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