T. K. Shindo

T. K. Shindo
Koryu Shindo

Kobuchisawa, Japan
Died 1974
Los Angeles, CA
Nationality Japanese
Other names Thomas Koryu Shindo
Years active 1928-1942
Organization Rafu Shimpo
Japanese Camera Pictorialists of California
Known for Photography

T. K. Shindo (Koryu Shindo, 24 November 1890 – 1974) was a Japanese photographer.

Early Life

Shindo was born Koryu Shindo in Kobuchisawa, Japan on 24 November 1890. He was the only son of a teacher and town mayor, who encouraged him to immigrate to the United States to avoid conscription into the Japanese military service.[1] He entered the United States through Seattle in 1907, eventually settling in Los Angeles where he assumed the name Thomas.


In his early career, Shindo supported himself as a presser and cutter in a tailor shop. He also worked in the grocery business until he was able to establish himself creatively. By 1918, he became the advertising director for the Rafu Shimpo, a Japanese-language newspaper that grew out of the Little Tokyo area of Los Angeles, California. He designed the newspaper's masthead and began to create other opportunities for Japanese American artists in the area. Under his direction, the newspaper sponsored photographic competitions and exhibitions that nourished the development of a strong photographic community in Little Tokyo.

Shindo joined the Japanese Camera Pictorialists of California (JCPC) in 1928 and likely created the club's logo. [2] In the early days, his home bathroom doubled as his darkroom where he would develop film and prints. He was a prolific artist and his photographs were published in seven issues of the annual Photograms of the Year, more than any other Japanese American.[1] Shindo rose in prominence over the years, submitting work to photographic salons in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Ottawa, Paris, Pittsburgh, Rochester, San Diego, San Francisco, Tokyo, Toronto, Turin, and Zaragoza.[2] His work appeared in print both domestically and internationally.

WWII and Incarceration

Escalating WWII tensions brought an end to the growth of organizations like the Rafu Shimpo and the JCPC. This was explicit with the Enemy Alien Control Program and presidential proclamations such as the below, which outlawed the possession of cameras, among other technologies.[3]

Regulations Controlling Travel and Other Conduct of Aliens of Enemy Nationalities Sec. 10. Cameras. (a) No alien of enemy nationality shall use or operate or possess or have under his custody or control at any time or place any camera.[4]

Shindo was aware that his prominent roles within the Rafu Shimpo and JCPC could make him a target of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was actively surveilling and arresting fellow Issei community members. He conveyed these fears to his family, prompting his wife (Mino Okubo) to keep "a satchel of his clothes waiting by the front door in anticipation of his imminent arrest". [5]

In 1942, Shindo and his family were incarcerated in the Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona.[6] He remained a leader within the community and served as the Vice Chairman of the Poston chapter of the Red Cross, which advocated for community well-being and access to resources including CPR training and emergency telephone lines.[7] His responsibilities also included Publicity Manager, Editor of the Poston Red Cross News, and technical art works production. In these roles, he led efforts including the annual War Fund Drive, accident prevention week, and joint picnics with the Poston I High School's Junior Red Cross Council.[8][9][10] The Poston Red Cross organization also began selling geta and zori in 1942, a detail captured by the Poston Chronicle.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Making Waves: Japanese American Photography, 1920–1940 - Photographers | Japanese American National Museum". www.janm.org. Retrieved 2021-11-22.
  2. ^ a b "Photographer – T.K.Shindo". www.luminous-lint.com. Retrieved 2021-11-22.
  3. ^ Biddle, Francis (5 February 1942). "Controlling Travel and Other Conduct of Aliens of Enemy Nationalities" (PDF). United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  4. ^ Miller, Don (January 1942). "Rules Affecting Enemy Aliens". Denver Law Review. 19 – via Digital Commons.
  5. ^ Reed, Dennis (1985). Japanese Photography in America 1920–1940. Los Angeles, California. ISBN 4-88063-210-4.
  6. ^ "NARA - AAD - Display Full Records - [Japanese-American Internee Data File], 1942 - 1946". aad.archives.gov. Retrieved 2021-11-23.
  7. ^ Takahashi, Aijiro (7 May 1943). "Records of the American Red Cross" (PDF). Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  8. ^ "Image 2 of Poston chronicle (Poston, Ariz.), March 24, 1943". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2021-11-22.
  9. ^ "Junior Red Cross to Go on Outing" (PDF). Poston Chronicle. 11 February 1943. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  10. ^ "Depts. are Active in "Accident Prevention" Wk" (PDF). Poston Chronicle. 20 January 1943. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  11. ^ "Image 5 of Poston chronicle (Poston, Ariz.), December 25, 1942". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2021-11-22.

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