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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Materials
  • Existence and Location of Copies
  • Processing Information for Digitized Materials
  • Ninomiya Family and Studio Biography
  • Arrangement
  • Processing and Project Information
  • Revision Statements
  • Publication Note

  • Contributing Institution: California State University Dominguez Hills, Gerth Archives and Special Collections
    Title: Ninomiya Studio Collection
    Creator: Ninomiya Family
    Identifier/Call Number: SPC.2016.006
    Physical Description: 288 boxes
    Physical Description: 237.14 Linear Feet
    Date (inclusive): 1919-1944, 1949-1993
    Date (bulk): 1950-1980
    Abstract: This collection contains negatives, prints, directories, programs, correspondence, business material, and studio ephemera from the Ninomiya Studio that was located in the Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles, California. The negatives and prints document Japanese American communities in the aftermath of World War II. Some of the images in the collection include photograps of architecture in Los Angeles and Little Tokyo, Nisei Week parades, community and religious groups, family and individual portraits, and photographs taken at weddings and memorials. Some of the photographs in the collection have been digitized and are available online.
    Language of Material: English , Japanese .


    There are no access restrictions on this collection.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    For information about citing archival material, see the Citations for Archival Material guide, or consult the appropriate style manual.

    Acquisition Information

    After the collection was dispersed in 2010, five accessions came to Dominguez Hills. The first accession, 30 linear feet, was donated in 2016 by Michael Risner. The second accession was transferred from the Japanese American National Museum in 2017 and was initially donated to the museum by Jon Soto. Jon Soto later donated additional material to the CSUDH Archives and Special Collections. The last accession of negatives and prints was donated in 2018 by Allison Ramirez. Additional material, such as business receipts, invoices, customer cards, and studio ephemera, was donated in 2021 by Karyn Kurihara.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains 288 boxes (237.14 linear feet) of negatives, prints, directories, correspondence, programs, publications, invoices, receipts, customer cards, and studio ephemera from the Ninomiya Studio that was located in the Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles, California. The collections' negatives and prints document Japanese American communities and families after World War II. Images include family and individual portraits, passport photographs, images of Los Angeles and Little Tokyo's architecture including cityscapes and the surrounding landscapes, images of parades in Little Tokyo, community groups and activities such as conventions and meetings, Nisei Week, images of members of the military, church and Buddhist temple groups, beauty queen contestants, women in traditional Japanese clothing, sporting events such as judo, and images taken at weddings and funerals. Also included are some copy negatives of photographs from and of pre-war Japan and pre-war Los Angeles, scenes capturing businesses in Little Tokyo, and business people having discussions.
    The 28 Cirkut film negatives or panoramic negatives feature family gatherings, Christian and Buddhist funerals, and picnics.
    The correspondence are primarily from family members in Japan and China to the Ninomiya Studio or Ninomiya family. There is also a letter from Kataysima to Kinso Ninomiya when the Ninomiya family was at the Poston incarceration camp.
    The invoices, receipts, and customer cards from the Ninomiya Studio are from 1949-1982 and document local business who worked with the Ninomiya Studio. It includes a checkbook dated April 17-1941 to March 28, 1942, just before the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans. The checkbook begins when the business reopens in the 1950s. There is also an address book, customer cards, and business ephemera, such as business cards and envelopes from the studio.

    Related Materials

    This collection is part of the California State University Japanese American Digitization Project. For related materials please consult: CSU Japanese American Digitization Project. 

    Existence and Location of Copies

    Some of the collection has been digitized and is available at the CSU Japanese American Project site: Ninomiya Studio Collection. 

    Processing Information for Digitized Materials

    Cataloging for this collection was initially completed by Stella Castillo, Alexandra Arai Cauley, and Christina Pappous. Additional negatives were scanned in 2019, and cataloging for this material was completed by Susmita Patange, Jay Patel, Jasmine Abang, Jesus Padilla, and Jennifer Hill.
    The Gerth Archives and Special Collections created digital reproductions from the original material for long-term preservation and access. These preservation files are stored on the Gerth Archives and Special Collections Deparment Drive. For more information on the best practices and standards for the digitization process, please see: CSU Japanese American Digitization Project technical reference guide. 

    Ninomiya Family and Studio Biography

    Born on October 19, 1894, in Hiroshima Ken, Japan, Kinso Beach Ninomiya immigrated to the United States on May 27, 1913. His wife, Kiyo Ninomiya (nèe Kodani), was born on February 16, 1907, in Tokyo, Japan, and immigrated with her family to the United States on January 5, 1915. The two married in Los Angeles, California, on October 7, 1928, and had four children: Elwin Ichiro (born February 23, 1929), Terry Terumi (born September 1, 1931), Clyde Kunio (born November 11, 1937), and Letty Hisako (born February 17, 1940). In the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles, Kinso Ninomiya owned and operated the successful Ninomiya Studio starting in 1922 and its satellite location on Terminal Island until its closure in the face of subsequent mass incarceration of Japanese Americans in the United States following the U.S. entrance into World War II. The Ninomiya family was forcibly removed to the Poston incarceration camp in Arizona on May 27, 1942, and remained there until 1945; Kinso Ninomiya was the first of his family to be released from Poston on February 6, 1945. The eldest Ninomiya children, Elwin and Terry, were respectively released from Poston on March 14 and September 23 of 1945. Kiyo and the two youngest children, Clyde and Letty, were all released on October 20, 1945.
    Returning to Los Angeles, Kinso Ninomiya reopened the Ninomiya Studio on 353 East 1st Street. All four Ninomiya children attended Theodore Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights between 1947 and 1955. The youngest, Letty, attended Los Angeles State College and graduated in 1962 with a B.A. in Social Sciences. Elwin was drafted into the United States Army on December 20, 1950, served in Korea, and was released on December 9, 1952. After his time in Korea, Elwin rejoined his father in operating the Ninomiya Photo Studio, taking over the business after his father's death on August 7, 1966. The Ninomiya Studio remained open until 1986. Terry Ninomiya passed away in January 1995, while Elwin Ninomiya died on October 9, 2009.


    This collection is arranged in five series.

    Series Include:

    1. Negatives and Cirkut Negatives
    2. Prints
    3. Invoices, Receipts, Customer Cards, and Ninomiya Studio Ephemera
    4. Correspondence
    5. Directories, Publications, Programs, and Other Documents

    Processing and Project Information

    This collection was processed by Stella Castillo, Alexandra Arai Cauley, and Christina Pappous with the assistance of Lindsay Anderson, Matthew Weisbly, Sharon MacNett, Katie Gronenthal, Jesus Padilla, Jennifer Hill, and other Gerth Archives and Special Collection staff, student assistants, volunteers, and interns.
    Funding for processing and cataloging the Ninomiya Studio Collection was provided by National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), California Civil Liberties Public Education Program (CCLPEP), Haynes Foundation, and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

    Revision Statements

    The finding aid for this collection has been revised since it's initial creation by Karen Clemons in 2016.


    February 2020
    The Ninomiya biography, written by Alexandra Arai Cauley and Christina Pappous, was added to the finding aid. The processing note, existence and location of copies note, and container list were added by Susmita Patange and Jennifer Hill. The abstract, related materials and acquisition notes were updated by Jennifer Hill. Jasmine Abang conducted additional research on the Ninomiya family and Ninomiya Studio.
    November 2021
    Container list was updated to include additional material by Jesus Padilla.
    January 2022
    The container list, abstract, scope and content note, acquisition information, and arrangement note were updated. Additional material was processed and added to the collection by Jennifer Hill.

    Publication Note

    This collection was featured in a blog published by the Los Angeles Archivists Collective. The blog was written by Alexandra Aria Cauley and Christina Pappous.
    Cauley, Alexandra Arai, and Christina Pappous. "The Ninomiya Photo Studio Collection." Los Angeles Archivists Collective (blog), 2017. "The Ninomiya Photo Studio Collection." 

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Japanese Americans
    Japanese American families
    Japanese Americans -- California
    Japanese Americans -- Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945
    Japanese Americans -- California -- Los Angeles -- 1940-1950
    Little Tokyo (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Los Angeles (Calif.)
    Japanese American photographers
    Ninomiya, Kinso
    Ninomiya, Elwin