What’s bigger than Ego

How would you like to be remembered after you leave this planet? We all wonder at some point in our life. Leaving one’s legacy in a tangible form, statue, trophy, building or name on a street is a tempting idea. But what does that serve? 

Takeshi Yoshizawa is a classic Tokyoite who talks loud and speaks direct. He may sound scary but you can trust what you hear: no back-stabbing or hidden message whatsoever.

He started helping his father with Koto making at the age of 16, which he has carried on till today. Apart from being a craftsman, he was passionate about many areas of his life; dance, politics, environment, Shogi – Japanese chess. Being a natural-born multi-hatter, he joined local pro-green movements and found himself soon leading them, which gained him a seat in the city council. 

During his time as a member of city council, he helped the local community to:

  • Stop construction of a golf course in the nearby mountain
  • Stop construction of High Voltage Direct Current transmission tower
  • Prevent water pollution from an industrial waste disposal facility

It was one of the first cases the voice of a local community reached far enough to change the course of the governmental plan for HVDC tower construction.

The environmental issues and financial debts as the result of over-construction in the late 20th century became known in the last two decades. He kept raising a red flag in the midst and the afterglow of the economic bubble.

These 3 Stops left the town as the way it had been. Clean water, green mountains, no (extra) debts for our future children. No footmarks of “the political leader Takeshi Yoshizawa”, but that’s the way it should be.

So… he is a Koto craftsman. Possibly a pioneer of the “indi-preneurs” of today, or the last generations of “handyman of the hood” from the Edo period.

Either way, he is blessed to have led his life following his passion, without bending who he is.

This story was discovered when I asked “ Is there any other occupation you would have liked to try in your life, Dad?”

Discovering his story, I, too, am discovering my own.


See Takeshi Yoshizawa’s work

Profile photo courtesy of Sayaka Takizawa


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