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Miyamoto Photograph Collection

Biographical Sketch

Masao Miyamoto dedicated fifty-five years photographing the University of Hawai'i.

Masao Miyamoto was born in Kona to coffee farmers. He was the youngest of five children. When he was six, his parents moved to Kaimuki area of Honolulu.1 He had two life-long commitments outside his home: Scouting and Photography. He joined Troop 10 of the Boy Scouts at age twelve in 1925. He completed the requirements for Eagle in 1932. About the same time, he became Assistant Scoutmaster of the troop. When the founding scoutmaster retired in 1945, Miyamoto became the second scoutmaster of Troop 10, continuing in this position until 12 April 1992.2

Scouting led Miyamoto to his second life-long career: photography. Learning photography in Scouts, he then continued the hobby. During his high school years at McKinley High School, he was president of the photography club and photographer for the Daily Pinion. After graduating in 1932, he took a job with the silent movie library at the University of Hawaii. Eventually he persuaded the university officials that the University should hire him as a photographer.3

Miyamoto began his career as official photographer for the University on 1 April 1936. In the course of the next forty-one years, he photographed four presidents of the United States and eleven presidents of the University of Hawaii. He captured the images of numerous foreign dignitaries and national leaders visiting Hawaii and the University. Among these are President Sukarno of Indonesia, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Professor Daisetsu Suzuki, Mr. Ralph Bunch, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Though he officially retired on the last day of June 1977, one would scarcely know it. Mr. Miyamoto continued active at the University with his camera, volunteering four hours per day for the next fourteen years. In February 1991, the Masao Miyamoto Photographs, numbering approximately 70,000 negatives, came to the University Archives.

Masao Miyamoto passed away 19 November 1995 at his home in Manoa. Concerning his life, one of his former scouts said, "If anyone ever wonders whether or not a single person can make a difference in this world, they need only look at Masao Miyamoto and his life of service."4


1 "Masao Miyamoto," Honolulu Star Bulletin, 22 November 1995, p. A9.
2 " -- ," Honolulu Advertiser, 12 April 1992, p. E1.
3Star Bulletin, ibid.

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Last updated: 15 April 2011

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