Thomas Kakinuma was born in Japan and came to Canada in 1937. He studied at the College of Art in Toronto during the war years, graduating with honours in 1947. He then continued his studies in New York under Yasuo Kureoshi at the Art Students League for two years.
Although his formal training was in painting he went in the direction of sculpture and pottery. In 1960, as a recipient of a Canada Council grant, Kakinuma traveled to Japan where he studied ceramic for one year and was received with great honour. Much of his sculpture emphasized the family unit towards which he felt very strongly.
He exhibited widely in Japan, the United States and Canada both in one-man and group shows. He participated in the First national Fine Crafts Exhibition in 1957. His work is found in numerous private collections as well as in the National Gallery of Canada, the First Museum of Contemporary Canadian Fine Crafts in Charlottetown, P.E.I. and the Permanent International Collection Ceramic Museum in Faenza, Italy.
Mr. Kakinuma received the Best Canadian Sculpture Award in 1963 and Silver Medal for Ceramics 1963 in Prague. He taught ceramics at the Banff School of Fine Arts (1956) and at the University of British Columbia as Head of the Ceramic Workshop in 1956-59 and 1961-62. He was a Burnaby resident for many years.