Born in Takaoka, Japan the son of a physician. Educated in Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo, graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1879. He did postgraduate work at University of Glasgow and Anderson College in Scotland. He returned to Japan in 1883 and joined the division of chemistry at the department of agriculture and commerce.
In 1884 he married the American, Caroline Field Hitch. Takamine continued to work for the department of agriculture and commerce until 1887. Leaving, he founded the Tokyo Artificial Fertilizer Company, where he later isolated the enzyme, Takadiastase.
In 1894 Takamine emigrated to the United States. He established his own research laboratory in New York City, but licensed the commercial production of Takadiastase. In 1901 he isolated and purified the hormone adrenaline from animal glands, becoming the first to accomplish this for a glandular hormone.