Take and Archie Miyatake wave to the crowds at the Nisei Week Grand Parade in August 2005. Take managed Toyo Miyatake Studio, raised their family and supported husband Archie, who passed away in 2016. (MARIO GERSHOM REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

By ELLEN ENDO, Rafu Shimpo

After raising two sons, Takeko “Take” Miyatake quietly wished for granddaughters. Not only did her wish come true, she was blessed with four. On May 4, the good-natured grandmother known for her positive outlook and endearing smile passed away at the age of 94.

After meeting the love of her life in the Manzanar internment camp during World War II, she and her late husband Archie, married 67 years, had two sons, Alan Miyatake and the late Gary Miyatake, both of whom followed their father’s and grandfather Toyo’s paths to professional photography.

Toyo Miyatake Studio, then located in Little Tokyo, was known for its high-quality work but also for the family’s role in chronicling the events and people that eventually shaped the Japanese American diaspora, beginning in 1923.

Takeko eventually took over the day-to-day operation of the studio from the person she regarded as a role model, her mother-in-law Hiro Miyatake.

“My mom dedicated her life to supporting my dad and managing the family business. The studio became her life. She and Dad were a team,” Alan emphasized.

Alan has received many calls of condolences from clients who remember being greeted with Takeko’s happy smiles and kindness. Her goal was to celebrate the studio’s 100th anniversary next year.

After semi-retirement, one project they pursued together with a group of Manzanar friends was the construction of a scale model of the World War II incarceration camp at Manzanar National Historic Site. “Mom was in the group that created the miniature trees,” Alan said.

Working closely with Alisa Lynch Broch, MNHS chief interpretive officer and close family friend, Takeko and Archie were part of the team that built what became an educational tool, helping visitors imagine the scope and size of the camp, most of which was dismantled after the war.

Archie and Take Miyatake were recognized for their volunteer work at Manzanar with a segment of barbed wire when the Interpretive Center opened in 2004. (MARIO GERSHOM REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

At the same time, Takeko was also full of surprises. She could drive a stick-shift pickup truck and saw herself as “the fun grandmother.” She introduced Snickers ice cream bars to her granddaughters and had a devilish sense of humor.

She was the April Fool’s Day prankster queen, according to Alan and his daughters. “She once called her mother and said, ‘Did you know it’s snowing outside?’ Whenever April 1 rolls around, we wait for (the joke). We know it is coming, we just don’t know when or how. We have continued her tradition.”

Even as dementia made things more difficult for her to remember, Takeko continued to try and instill in her granddaughters the wisdom she had gained over the many years.

“I think that’s how she would like to be remembered: As the person who taught her loved ones how to live a happy life,” her son said.

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