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11-10-2011, 07:03 AM - 9 Likes   #1
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Who was Takuma Kajiwara?

Who was Takuma Kajiwara?

If you google on his name you get numerous hits on links to camera/photo sites (including this forum) with about the same info: "...he was a painter/photographer related to the head of Pentas (Asahi Optical Company), and when Pentax begun to make 135mm SLR cameras of their own, they named the lenses "Takumar" after him...". We all know this, but if you try to find out anything more, it is not all that easy. As often, the web repeats the same information over and over again. Also incorrect (des)information, like those sites that claim that he designed the first Takumar lenses.

I thought we should have a thread dedicated to Takuma, his life, career, and the connections to Pentax, and the rest of the Kajiwara/Matsumoto family. I have managed to dig up some more information than the ordinary internet junk, from real old-fashioned analog sources, like newspapers and different U.S. registers, and some Japanese links (where it would be great if someone that can read Japanese without google translate could help out). There is also not so easy to find copies of his artistic works (photographs and paintings) on the web, especially the paintings. So if some of you American fellow forum members live close to those institutes/museums that is supposed to own some of his works, it would be great if you could take this as an excuse for an excursion and share with us what you find out. And most of all, I suspect there may be a large amount of information available in Japan, and maybe some Japanese member can help us with this. Anyone interested?

So lets start somewhere:

"...Kajiware was the third of five brothers in a Samurai family. Knowing that the eldest son would retain the family title...Kajiwara decided to travel the world."

This comes from a 1951 news paper interview.

We know of course the name of one of these brothers: Kumao Kajiware, the founder of Pentax. And he was not the eldest son either. BTW, does anyone know the birth and death years and dates of Kumao? I just can't find them.

There was all the time this other Kajiwara..."Kango Kajiwara", who's paintings turned up and irritated me when I was trying to find paintings by Takuma. When I finally found the New York times obituary for Takuma, it turned out that Kango was one of the other brothers, who became a painter at the Japanese emperors court. Quite an artistic family!

Regarding the other two brothers, if there isn't anyone else who know who they are, I will come back to a theory about the oldest one. And I also believe that there must be at least one sister, for obvious reasons.

As for birth and death dates for Takuma:
He was born on the 15th November 1876 (so it is soon his birthday!)
The evidence appear in a couple of places, but the best is probably this record from the "Index to Petitions for Naturalization filled in New York City, nr7181920" :



He died on March 11, 1960, in New York. From New York Times March 12:



Another surprisingly difficult problem have been to find a portrait of him. A portrait of a portraitist.
This is a self portrait titled "Self Consultation" from about 1950, unfortunately just a black and white newspaper reproduction:



Does anyone know about other pictures of him, for example when he was younger, or while he is working etc.?


Last edited by Douglas_of_Sweden; 11-10-2011 at 08:31 AM.
11-10-2011, 03:48 PM   #2
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The last time I did a J-Google search on him it turned up practically nothing, except that he was a Pentax employee and lens designer, which apparently is incorrect anyway. Part of the reason for the lack of information on him on the Japanese side of the net may be that he spent his working life in the U.S. and never really made a name for himself in Japan, except as the answer to a camera-buff trivia question, and even that only thanks to a well-placed admiring nephew.

New since the last time I searched are a couple of pages showing the location of his grave, which is in Fuchu City, in the urban sprawl of western Tokyo, in a humongous cemetery.

I have had it in mind that if I could ever find out where he is buried and it is not too distant I would like to pay a visit and perhaps place some flowers on behalf of the many Takumar fans here on pentaxforums.

As it turns out, I am about three hours away, which isn't too bad. If the weather cooperates and I have the energy to do it after working all day Saturday and then shooting dance rehearsal until 10 that evening, I am considering riding my motorcycle down this Sunday the 13th. Working on the 15th, so an actual birthday visit isn't in the cards.

If anyone feels like chipping in a couple of bucks to help out on the flowers (via PayPal) it would be greatly appreciated.

If anyone is in the Tokyo area and would like to meet up and come along, that would be great as well. Closest station is Tama Reienmae.
11-10-2011, 07:06 PM   #3
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About the grave:

I think this is the grave Mike mentions:



But if you click the link at the bottom, you switch between two different pages.
One saying
梶原琢磨

=Kajiwara Takuma

with the dates "1876.11.15(明治9)~ 1959.3.11(昭和34)"

One saying

梶原貫五

=Kajiwara Kango

with the dates "1887(明治20)~ 1958(昭和33)"

Now, if you look at my first post and links in it, you will see that November 15 1876 is the birth data of Takuma, and March 11 1960 is when he died. Maybe the person posting this page got the years mixed up when going from Japanese showa era years to years after Christ. I would be surprised if New York Times got it wrong with a whole year.

If you follow this link
KANGO KAJIWARA, SPRING LANDSCAPE, JAPAN, 1953 (item #990396)
you will see that 1887 and 1958 are the birth and death years of Kango, Takuma's little brother, the court painter.

Actually the fourth lines of these pages are identical, almost

大正・昭和期の画家


大正・昭和期の写真家、画家

The beginning is just something like "Meji and Show era..."


then Takuma was both
真家=photographer


and

画家=painter

while Kango was just painter.

That's how far I get without google translate. And google translate makes a mess of the rest of the pages. The best I can understand is that the person behind this page believes that the two brothers are buried side by side. Logical if you consider that they both died within two years. But there is also another artist mentioned, presumably a class-mate of Takuma, Hiroshi Yoshida's (or does it only refer to that they both were born in 1876?). There is something with grand-son also. Does he mean that he who wonder if this is the grave of Takuma is the grandson of Hiroshi? Someone with Japanese skills, please help! Mike...

Back to the stone.


In my eyes, it looks like the left stone really says 梶原琢磨, but vertically. So it really appear as if it is the grave of Takuma Kajiwara, unless it is a completely different person with the same name.

In that case, maybe what they suggest on this web page is that the unmarked stone to the left belongs to little brother Kango.

But I would like to suggest a simpler explanation. I think it is the widow mentioned in the above obituary: Makoto Kajiwara.
About her I know nothing, except that they must have married just a few years before his death (in 1951, and probably as long as 1936-1955 he was married with an American woman, I will come back to that), and that she died in Japan in 1988. It would then make sense if she were buried next to him.

Mike, if you go there with flowers, I'd be happy to contribute if you have a paypal address or so.
If you click around on the same web-site there appears to be a map over the grave yard.
11-10-2011, 07:46 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
The last time I did a J-Google search on him it turned up practically nothing, except that he was a Pentax employee and lens designer, which apparently is incorrect anyway. Part of the reason for the lack of information on him on the Japanese side of the net may be that he spent his working life in the U.S. and never really made a name for himself in Japan, except as the answer to a camera-buff trivia question, and even that only thanks to a well-placed admiring nephew.
I think it is clear that the guy who designed the first generation Takumar lenses, and several of the later, was Ryohei Suzuki, this fellow:


However, the more I dig into this, from thinking that uncle Takuma was just a label on the lenses, I begin to think that he might have been more involved in the early Pentax than I first thought.
He visited Tokyo for a long period, more than a year, in 1938-39, just when his nephew Saburo Matsumoto had taken over (as I mentioned, I don't have a death year for Kumao Kajiwara, but by 1938 I'm quite sure he was out of the game) the AOCo and had the ambition to start to make their own camera...but there came a war in between. I will come back to this.
He also visited Tokyo in the 1950's, somewhere after the first or second Asahiflex models (I will come back to this also), and a few years before Saburo came to New York to market their cameras and lenses along the east coast together with Takuma.

But first...his first return was already in 1900-1902, and is mentioned by New York Times above:
"At the turn of the century, at the request of the royal government of Japan, he spent several months there organizing photography clubs."

I don't have his exact departure, but he returned on board S.S. Kaga Maru


in 1902, from Yokohama (August 26th) to Seattle (September 10), and if you read the really small note to the right on his line in the passenger list



you will see that his prior period in the U.S. is given as 1895-1900. So he was in Japan from some time in 1900 to late summer 1902. At least partly he helped the government promote the formation of photo clubs (I'm sure he visited his family and friends also). What was the outcome of that?

Well, in this link: PhotoHistory 1868-1919 - PHOTOGUIDE.JP
you will learn that during this period the two first photography clubs started in Japan: The Tokyo Shayu-kai photo club was founded in March 1901, and the Toyo Shashin-kaiamateur photo club was started in October 1901. Other names are given as the ones responsible for this, but they may have been the ones elected as the first chairmen, but Takuma appears to have been the initiator!

EDIT: I've also reacted on that the captain have such a strange hand writing that it looks like he write something like "1909" instead of "1902", but this paper is clearly registered as being from 1902.



Last edited by Douglas_of_Sweden; 11-10-2011 at 07:52 PM.
11-12-2011, 09:52 PM   #5
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Posting live from the Kajiwara family tomb. Looks like nobody has been here since at least summer of last year, as I had to clear away a lot of dead leaves that weren't from this year.

Location and name confirmed. Cleaning done. Incense burned. Flowers placed.

The flowers were twenty bucks. If anybody wants to chip in my wife would certainly appreciate it. PayPal to mikecash at gmail dot com. Leave a note here with amount so we don't end up with me collecting over the twenty I'm actually out.
11-12-2011, 11:30 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
Posting live from the Kajiwara family tomb. Looks like nobody has been here since at least summer of last year, as I had to clear away a lot of dead leaves that weren't from this year.

Location and name confirmed. Cleaning done. Incense burned. Flowers placed.

The flowers were twenty bucks. If anybody wants to chip in my wife would certainly appreciate it. PayPal to mikecash at gmail dot com. Leave a note here with amount so we don't end up with me collecting over the twenty I'm actually out.
I hope you took pictures of the family tomb with a takumar lens! I think it's great what you did mike, and I sent along ten bucks to help cover the cost of the flowers. Eager to see photos!
11-12-2011, 11:49 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
New since the last time I searched are a couple of pages showing the location of his grave, which is in Fuchu City, in the urban sprawl of western Tokyo, in a humongous cemetery.
Mike. In some ways this doesn't seem logical since he died in NY in 1951 it would be surprising if in those days they then would refrigerate and sent his body back to Japan for burial .... unless he was cremated first and his ashes buried in Japan ?

EDIT. Oh I see you have confirmed the name. Hmm.

Great thread Douglas.
11-13-2011, 05:32 AM - 4 Likes   #8
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Takuma Kajiwara is interred in the Kajiwara family tomb, along with several other members of the family, as has been common practice in Japan since about the end of WWII. The main stone carries only the family name, with individual names added to a separate stone as additional interments occur. It is on this separate stone that the presence of Takuma Kajiwara can be confirmed, together with a listed death date of March 11, 1960 and a listed age of 84.

The first two photos show the Kajiwara family tomb as I found it, scattered with dead leaves that must be from at least last year, as the leaves on the surrounding trees have not yet fallen this year.








The third photo shows the tomb after I had cleaned up all the dead leaves from the area, washed the stone (traditional part of grave visits here), and placed fresh flowers.





The separate stone on the right of the main tombstone (as you face it) listing the individual interments. Takuma Kajiwara is the third from the left. The long bit above his name is his post-mortem Buddhist name. Below it is his date of death and age. If you want a better look at it, go to the Flickr page and open up the original size photo. The most recent interment was from 1975.





I took along plenty of incense.





What appears to be a much older stone, probably incorporated from an older family tomb (common practice) and written in what appears to be Kanbun (Classical Chinese composition), leading me to guess it is probably a portion of a Buddhist sutra. I didn't examine it very closely.





All Photos
Pentax K20D
S-M-C Takumar 35/3.5


Thanks very much to Douglas for the very interesting information he found and collated for us. And thanks to séamuis for helping out with the expense of the flowers. More than the money it was very heartwarming to know there was at least one other person out there in Takumar land who wanted to be personally involved in the Takuma Kajiwara Pilgrimage to the degree that he could.

Contributions toward the flowers are still welcome. I will take whatever gets collected and put it into a Kiva loan for improving the life of some deserving hard-working person in a third-world country.


Last edited by Mike Cash; 11-13-2011 at 06:17 AM.
11-13-2011, 05:38 AM   #9
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you're a good man mike, and I wish I could have helped more personally, but I won't be back on that side of the world till April. so I appreciate all of your efforts and the lovely photos. a very nice token of appreciation for undoubtedly a very influential and important man, even if it is only in our little world. ill raise a glass to you.
11-13-2011, 06:07 AM   #10
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It gives one cause to pause for reflection.

A man lived his life and achieved a appreciable measure of success and renown in his field, managing to do it with the added burden of doing it in a foreign country in a foreign language and as a minority to boot. Now his bones lie in a modest nondescript family tomb in an absolutely huge sprawling urban cemetery, with the only indication of his being there being a couple of etched characters on a stone that you have to lie down on the ground and squint at to even notice them....if you didn't know where he was you would never find him. Samples of his works exist in some inaccessible archives and will likely forever remain unknown to us.

But far from having disappeared without a trace....his name still lives on today thanks to excellent lenses named after him, known to discerning lovers of fine glass throughout the world despite their having gone out of production and becoming "obsolete" four decades ago. A great many people in the world still use them frequently, and some like myself use them as our daily shooting gear and number them among our most prized possessions.

You may be gone from us, Takuma Kajiwara, and unknown to us, but you are far from forgotten. Maybe you didn't design our beloved Takumar lenses, but somebody who knew you was sufficiently impressed by you to name them after you and that says a lot.
11-13-2011, 06:53 AM   #11
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Chipping in: just sent US$ 5 for the flowers .
11-13-2011, 12:09 PM   #12
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I just contributed US$5 also, for flowers or Kiva, either is great. Good going!

(source of funds may start with m or r)
11-13-2011, 12:39 PM   #13
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Beautifully done, Mike. Wish I could have been there. I will definitely visit the place if I get to Japan again.

Some reflections and questions:

"Takuma Kajiwara is the third from the left."

Mmh, he was the third son of five...perhaps the order of the stones has a relevance.

-Did you spot the stones for Kango (the other painter and probably the youngest brother) and Kumao (Pentax founder)?
-Were there by any chance a stone labeled Kagekiyo Kajiware? That may be the oldest brother, and if there is a stone there with his name it would confirm my theory on whom their samurai-father and there mother(s) where.
-The Kumao, brother, I haven't been able to find his birth/death date/year anywhere. And it matter for understanding what went on with Pentax in the 1930's. We only know that his nephew Saburo Matsumoto took over when he was 27 years old, because the uncle died, and it must have been around mid-1930's. But when the political climate and pressure from the military government got tougher from year to year, it does matter if this was 1933 or perhaps 1939.
-Any stone from the same generation with a female name on? I suspect the five brothers had at least one sister.
-Anyone from the Matsumoto family? I haven't got birth date/year for Saburo Matsumoto either (second head of Pentax, should have been born around 1910).

It would be great if you were able to transcribe something like that from the stones.
11-13-2011, 04:38 PM   #14
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I'll have a go at the stone later on, can't do it in this iPhone. I should clarify for those not familiar with the practice in Japan: The main tombstone is for all whose bones are there; there are no individual stones for each person. All the bones (in individual containers) are placed in a common area beneath the main tombstone. The name plaque to the right lists the individuals present.

Takuma's name is third from the left, but the stone is written right-to-left, generally in the order of date of death. There is a blank space, presumably left for the name of a spouse so the couple's names would be together. Either the person is still alive or was buried elsewhere.

The oldest date was from the Meiji Era and I presume that this is a relocated or refurbished family tomb (very common). Up until about WWII the norm was individual tombs or tombs for couples. As cemetery space is typically leased in Japan and with space at a premium anyway, maintaining sprawling tombs for long-dead relatives is a luxury few can afford. So people move into newly prepared places or refurbish their old places in order to more economically accommodate more family members. The chief method is consolidation into the sort of "catch-all" family tomb you see here. Old individual stones are disposed of, if large, or perhaps incorporated into the new site if they are small and space permits. I'll have to check, but I don't think this cemetery even existed in the Meiji Era.

A further oddity is that when I checked the Google satellite imagery of the spot....it looked like nothing was there! It is possible that the tomb was relocated to that spot after the satellite image was taken, meaning something fairly recent. Given that as recently as a couple of years ago there was nothing I could find on the net regarding a grave at all, it strikes me as plausible that the relocation was fairly recent. The ground was also covered with a sort of stone that I have only seen on tombs which are relatively recently done. My guess would be that a two or more older locations were consolidated here fairly recently, moving and reusing the main stone, keeping a couple of the older stones (one with what might be a sutra and the other probably a stone listing individuals from a previous location), with the addition of the more recent name list stone.

Or my guesses may be completely full of crap. Hard to say.

Thank you, jolepp and RioRico for chipping in. It is greatly appreciated.
11-13-2011, 05:29 PM   #15
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I just added $5 to the kitty. A very fine thing to do Mike so apply the money in any way you see appropriate. Thank you for your kindness.
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