Movie-featured Japanese American painter Mirikitani dies at 92

Tsutomu ‘Jimmy’ Mirikitani. file photo
Tsutomu ‘Jimmy’ Mirikitani. file photo

NEW YORK (Kyodo) — Tsutomu “Jimmy” Mirikitani, a Japanese American painter featured in the documentary movie “The Cats of Mirikitani,” has died from complications stemming from brain hemorrhage at a New York hospital, the movie’s producer said. He was 92.

A second-generation Japanese American born in 1920 in California, Mirikitani returned to his father’s hometown prefecture of Hiroshima at a young age to study Japanese-style painting.

At around age 20, Mirikitani moved to Seattle where his sister lived. With World War II starting shortly afterward, he was sent to the Tule Lake concentration camp in California and stripped of his American citizenship.

Mirikitani, who called himself a “peace artist,” was spotted by film director Linda Hattendorf while he was living on the sidewalks in a Manhattan neighborhood drawing pictures themed on cats and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

The encounter led to the production in 2006 of the documentary movie “The Cats of Mirikitani.”

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