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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, November 3, 2002

Bumpei Akaji, sculptor, 442nd veteran, dead at 81

Advertiser Staff

Bumpei Akaji, a sculptor and veteran of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, died Oct. 27 in Honolulu. He was 81.

Akaji was born on Jan. 30, 1921, in Lawa'i, Kaua'i.

During World War II, he joined the Army and was assigned to the 442nd.

After the war, Akaji spent four years on the GI Bill studying art in Florence and Milan in Italy. He later earned a master's degree in art at the University of Hawai'i and began his long career as an artist.

Akaji established himself as an expert in metal sculpture. His first major commission was for the new Ala Moana Center in 1959, and one of his sculptures opened what is now The Contemporary Museum.

One of his later works was the central sculpture in the Brothers in Valor monument that was dedicated at Fort DeRussy in 1998. The memorial was the first in Hawai'i to honor Japanese-American military contributions in World War II.

Akaji is survived by his wife, Toyoko; son, Maurice; daughters, Fiore Fujimoto, Ada and Esta; two grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; brother, Steve; and sisters, Frances Shimamoto and Bernice Osborne.

Private services have been held.