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Island History

It is said that a picture paints a thousand words. If so, people like William Junokichi “W.J.” Senda and Dennis Fujimoto have painted enough to fill libraries with their work.

Hank Soboleski relates in his book “History Makers of Kauai” the journey of Senda. turning a hobby into a business, being interned in 1942 and part of 1943, and of his legacy that has lived on long after his death in 1984.

Like Fujimoto, hundreds of Senda’s images appeared in the pages of The Garden Island newspaper.

Senda’s first camera was a Brownie box that he bought from a Montgomery Ward catalog, and in 1913, following two years of training at the Yamamoto Photo Studio in downtown Honolulu, he took his hard-earned savings and sailed off to Kaua’i to purchase the Gokan Photo Shop located in a cottage at Kapaia.

Senda settled in on Kaua’i, put up a freshly- painted sign lettered “Senda Photo Studio/’ and opened for business at his Kapaia shop, which also served as his residence.

Two years later he married Kayo Yamada, and the following year they moved to the new Tip Top Building in Lihu’e, which had been built on the site of the old Lihue Plantation stables and was located about where the telephone company building on Kuhio Highway now stands next to the round building of the Lihu’e Civic Center Mo’ikeha Building.

His photo shop was on the second floor, and the Sendas lived in an apartment at the back of the shop, but they later moved their household to Rice Camp, then situated adjacent to Rice Street, between Wa’a Road and Kalena Street, and over the years they had six children.

Family outings often revolved around weekend photo sessions, with the second-hand Dodge he bought in 1919 being the first of several used cars he purchased over the years to drive to weddings, family groups, and other events. His business and family grew during the next several years, and life was good. World War 11 changed all that, though the business survived and flourished. “Photos By Senda” became a well-known byline in island periodicals. He photographed over two generations of Kaua’fs school children, and the Senda Gallery at the Kaua’i Museum is dedicated in his honor. Senda retired in 1957, leaving his business to his children.

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