Tina and Jiro

Tina Takemoto and Jiro Onuma

Tina Takemoto is a queer fourth-generation Japanese American artist, writer and professor living in San Francisco.

Jiro Onuma was a Japanese man who immigrated to the U.S. in 1923. He lived as a dandyish gay bachelor in San Francisco. During WWII in 1942, he was incarcerated in the Japanese American Internment Camp in Topaz, Utah. He was a collector of male physical culture magazines.


From Jiro Onuma’s Archive


Gay Bachelor’s Japanese American Internment Survival Kit (2009)
This Survival Kit includes a tarpaper wallet and cigarette holder, “gaman-style” carved bird cufflinks and tie clip, a muscle man hanafuda card set and a homemade Earle Liederman “progressive exerciser” device.

installation tina takemoto

“I grew up hearing family stories about the Japanese American Internment Camps, but no one ever mentioned the gay and lesbian experience of imprisonment.

“I try to imagine how Jiro Onuma survived the isolation, boredom, humiliation, and heteronormativity of internment as a dandyish gay bachelor obsessed with erotic male physical culture magazines. From Onuma’s archive, I discovered that he enrolled in Earle Liederman’s 12-week correspondence Physical Culture School program. Was Onuma receiving letters from Liederman and following this program in camp as a way to keep his queer imaginary alive?

“Jiro Onuma is my gay Japanese American role model, queer accomplice, and friend.” – Tina Takemoto