Yoshizumi-san: A Permanent Place in the Sun

Scott Skinner
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One of the highlights of last year’s “Tako Kichi: Kites of Japan” exhibition at Santa Fe’s Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA) was a beautiful display of miniature kites by Nobuhiko Yoshizumi. The exhibit, curated by Japanese kite collector and aficionado David Kahn, and featuring many of the kites from his massive collection, was a comprehensive survey of the kites of Japan and included several 100-plus-year-old kites, large paper koi no bori (fish kites), and many ukiyo-e (a genre of Japanese woodblock prints). In organizing the exhibit, Kahn was introduced to the masterpieces of Yoshizumi-san and was able to visit with him in Kyoto to formally ask for the kites that would be included in “Tako Kichi.” Tragically, Yoshizumi-san passed away shortly after this visit and was not able to see the completed exhibition.

Throughout the exhibit’s organizational process and as a result of his many dealings with the Drachen Foundation, Yoshizumi-san indicated that he wanted the exhibit kites and others to be donated to MOIFA, and upon his passing, Board Director Ali Fujino began working with Yoshizumi-san’s widow, Michiko, to curate and organize a major donation of kites, sketches, paintings, and ephemera to be donated to MOIFA. Michiko was able to visit the exhibit in Santa Fe and to meet its curator, Felicia Katz-Harris. She was able to decide for herself that this would be the new home to a large part of her husband’s legacy.

On my way to Korea’s Jeju Island, I was able to stop in Kyoto to visit Michiko and talk about this wonderful donation. To my surprise, she had collected another large group of kites to send on to MOIFA, a number of miniature kites – some finished, others in progress – as well as full-sized kites and kite paintings. The volume of kites donated to Santa Fe not only show Yoshizumi-san’s miraculous work, but indicate his inspirations, his experiments, and his always-present sense of humor.

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