After completing his studies in the feudal domain's school, Nisshinkan, he became a page to the daimyō Matsudaira Katamori from April 1868 to the surrender of the domain to imperial forces in the Boshin War in November that same year.
He was sentenced to confinement for a time in Tokyo, and was placed in the care of the Matsudaira clan of the Tanba-Kameyama Domain. As part of his studies, he entered the private school of Numa Morikazu, where he began to learn English. He soon attended Keiō-gijuku (A private school founded by Fukuzawa Yukichi, which grew into the modern-day Keio University) and received a scholarship to attend Oswego Normal School (present day SUNY Oswego), in New York in the United States from 1875–1878.
During his time in the United States he also attended Anderson School of Natural History on Penikese Island during the summer of 1877 and spent one semester studying under Burt Wilder, a famous zoologist at Cornell University. He was the first Japanese (some believe to be the first Asian) to have a teaching credential. He attended Keio University.
After returning to Japan, Takamine worked as an assistant to American scientist Edward Sylvester Morse and accompanied him on a trek to the rugged areas of Hokkaidō which were occupied by the Ainu.
He eventually became the Vice Principal and Principal of the Tokyo Normal School/ Tokyo Higher Normal School (same school but the name was changed), Principal of the Tokyo Art School, and Tokyo Music School. He was also deeply involved in women's education and became the Principal of Tokyo Women's Higher Normal School.