Japanese Treasure: A Kato Painting Portfolio

Scott Skinner
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It always starts with the most innocent of messages, and this was not an exception. The fax read: “An interesting rarity coming up at auction. See if you have it already or if you are interested?” My interest piqued, I read on: “

Tatsusaburo Kato. Kites of Japan, A Vanishing Art. Tokyo 1971. One color-woodcut and 13 colored original drawings on Japan-paper by Tatsusaburo Kato, each with a seal and in an envelope of Japan-cardboard together with a patterndrawing in two colors and a paper kite. Original folder in cassette. One of only 100 produced copies.”

It was an auction description sent by a German print dealer. I was confused and thought this must be a description of the soft-cover, self-published Japanese Kites: A Vanishing Art, by David Kung. I knew Kung’s book was published earlier— in 1962, in fact—but thought this might be another edition of the same material. Kung’s book opens with a modern woodblock print and has 14 color kite paintings included. It just seemed strange that this description sounded so similar. Perhaps something was lacking in the German-to-English translation, but I was confused.

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