Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Portrait: Taka Hirata

Taka Hirata represents a few "firsts" for my portrait project. Not only was Taka the first person to represent the Topaz internment camp in my project, but she was also the first centenarian that I had the honor of photographing. Taka is 104 years old! Although she needs assistance to stand up, she was able to walk right out the front door and pose for her photograph with only the aid of her walker. She also has a surprisingly strong grip.

(Photo by Andy Frazer)

Taka and her family were operating a bath house in San Francisco at the outbreak of World War II. Due to Executive Order 9066, they were forced to move to the Tanforan Assembly Center, then eventually the Topaz (Utah) and Tule Lake (California) internment camps.

(Artwork by Kiyo Kamiya)
When I met Taka Hirata, she showed me this great drawing of the Topaz War Relocation Center, which was drawn by her friend Kiyo Kamiya*. It was titled "East View from Blk 28, Topaz, Utah, Aug. 19, 1943". It measures about 11"x17".

I also had the opportunity to photographed her son, James Hirata, who told me some great stories about his experiences moving from San Francisco to Tanforan and then to Topaz at the age of 17.


  1. Wow! I just found out about Taka Hirata listening to the SF Giants baseball game tonight on the radio. They announced that Taka Hirata was the oldest fan in the game tonight at 105. I immediately looked her up on the internet and voilá your blog appears. Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures. I wish I could meet Taka Hirata.

  2. Experience a transmedia sculpture. We remember what we've seen. The issue is sharing experience.