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Born in Los Angeles to Yoriyuki Kikuchi – one of the first Asian Americans to graduate from the University of Southern California School of Dentistry - and Miya Sonomiya Kikuchi. Isao was an aimless 19-year-old at the onset of World War II. Lured to the high desert of California by an offer of construction work at union wages, he found himself interned at the Manzanar relocation camp which would become home to his family and 10,000 other Japanese Americans evacuated from the West Coast under authority of Presidential Executive Order 9066.
After 12 months, Isao was allowed to leave Manzanar for Chicago where he was drafted into the army. As a member of the now famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Isao served with distinction and saw fierce fighting against German forces in France and in the Italian Alps. At the conclusion of the war, Isao returned to Chicago and then to Los Angeles in 1950 with his new bride, Alice Ishii.
After a successful career as a Graphic Designer, Isao called upon his wartime experiences to produce a number of hauntingly beautiful paintings and sculptures and, in some cases, photographs combining the two. Isao has also illustrated children’s book on the subject of the Relocation experience, including Blue Jay in the Desert and Welcome Home Swallows. In Welcome Home Swallows, the now elderly Kikuchi demonstrated his mastery of computer illustration. Many of his works are now held in private collections in Southern California.
- Kikuchi, Isao. "California, Birth Index, 1905-1995". familysearch.org. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
- (Chicago, Asian American Coalition; Ill.); Coalition, Asian American; Gene H. Mayeda (February 1995). Children of Asian America. Polychrome Pub. Corp. p. 109. ISBN 978-1-879965-15-7. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
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