Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bulletin: Toshi Otsuki in Japan

We are all praying for the people of Japan. The news reports strike fear in our hearts for all, but especially those we know personally.

Toshi Otsuki, our incomparable photographer for Victoria, and his wife Michiko are safe in their home near Ito City. They retired there several years ago, and both keep active gardening, enjoying their home and pets, and with Toshi's singing career.

I know many of the Victoria family have been worried about him. There are Otsuki family members who were in the hardest hit areas of northern Japan, and we continue to pray for them. Survivors will have a long road of recovery ahead of them.

It had been my intention to visit Japan this month as I have been thinking about going to see Toshi and Michiko for several years. Our family's comings and goings didn't make it possible. But now I am especially committed. Toshi sent a DVD as a Christmas card this year and it brought tears to my eyes to recall all the years we worked so successfully together.

In Toshi's video is a blow-up of one of the photographs he took for Victoria. It was a cover--a woman in 1920's dress with a fetching hat. It has always been one of my favorites, and I was pleased to see how it has stayed in his life and home. I have an enlarged photograph of a woman with roses in my apartment in Westchester. Toshi's very best work was in fashion and in the garden. Putting him around a flower was like seeing the beginning of a love affair. (I have been thinking of ways to bring Toshi's incredible record of Central Park for over 30 years in every season to the public.)

And so I am very relieved that his home is intact and his garden about to bloom into spring. But to all the people of Japan who are not so fortunate, we send our heartfelt prayers.


  1. Thank you very much, Nancy, for sharing the good news that Toshi and Michiko are safe. How marvelous it will be for you to visit them! That is something that would truly be a dream come true. I don't believe a day goes by that I don't look at, remember and cherish Toshi's exquisite work. He has been the most tremendous influence on my own photography for many years.

    I spent several years, when growing up, living in a coastal village in Japan. Our fervent prayers and hopes are with the many who have suffered.

    very best wishes, Georgianna

  2. I very, very much wish that there were books of Mr. Otsuki's photography! I've been learning about and working on photography and his attention to detail and ability to catch "THE moment" - so much mood - is inspiring. Thankfully, I have all of my old issues of Victoria....

    I'm glad that they're well but so sorry to hear about the rest of their family.

    Katy Noelle

  3. Thanks for the update on Toshi and his wife. I have always treasured his art of photography. I love the idea of a book of his work, as suggested by Katy Noelle.

  4. Thank you so much for reassuring Toshi's many, many Victoria fans that he is fine. And do, please, get those Central Park photos of his into a coffeetable book! I've been yearning for that for literally DECADES! He is a treasure. Did you say SINGING career? What a talented man! Love, Karen Marline

  5. I, too thought of Toshi. I have never met him, but had long waited, for, enjoyed and recognized his photos in Victoria. So thank you so much for the update. It is much appreciated. Please pass on our good wishes to he and his family as we continue to pray for that devastated country.

  6. Ruth in San FranciscoMarch 14, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    Nancy, thank you for this post, it's a relief to know that he and his wife are safe and I'll pray for his family in the heavily affected area. Please encourage him to share word if there's anything specific we can do in support of the recovery? Toshi's photography has meant so much to me, I wonder if he could ever know how much, I too wish to see his photography - but especially something that describes his creative process - would be made public! In the meantime, as an avid amateur photographer, I often take a photograph and wondering how to make it better ask myself 'What Would Toshi Do?' ~ Ruth in San Francisco

  7. Saying thank you for these words about our wonderful Toshi just doesn't seem enough. I am so glad to learn he and his wife are safe and in their beloved home.

    It is my hope that he reads these messages from all of us. He has brought so much joy and pleasure to all of us through his artistic photographs. I have shared before that when I would first get my copy of Victoria I would go through it just to see if I could pick out Toshi's work. I was never wrong because his work always had that special touch.

    I would also love to see his photographs, especially for Central Park, in a wonderful book. I collect photograhic treasures and I would put his work right up there with Ansel Adams, just in a very different special way.

    My heart goes out to all the people of Japan. They are truly gifted and gentle people. If you do go to Japan, entice him to share his work with us. I would love to see pictures of your visit with Toshi and his Japan. Thank you again for sharing!

  8. Thank you for this post regarding the safety of Toshi Otsuki. I was just perusing some of the early issues of Victoria, admiring his many photographs, when I heard of the devastating earthquake and then tsunami. Your words here are a small ray of sunshine in the midst of such tragedy.

  9. I am so happy to read this update on Toshi and to hear that he and his wife are safe. It's funny to think about the connection I have with a man whom I have never met, who lives half-way around the world, but who has touched my life in so many ways through his beautiful photography.


  10. Sending comforting thoughts and prayers for all of those affected by this terrible devestation in Japan.

    May the beauty of Toshi's work provide some sense of healing and serenity to a nation suffering such a tragedy.

    Perhaps a book of Toshi's work could provide a source to raise relief funds or money to restore a once beautiful place in Japan.
    I feel certain that Victoria fans would rally around such a project.

    Mary Jane

  11. Thank you so much for keeping in touch with Toshi and with this update! I had searched high and low for more of his work after Victoria shuttered their doors years ago, fruitlessly. I would LOVE a book of his work, and as a tribute to those who died in the storm, it would be even more poignant.

  12. Oh Thank you so very much for posting this--I love his work and wish too, that it would be published! So glad that he is alright.

    I was in Maui Hawaii on vacation - when it was rudely cut short with Tsunami warnings.I actually had an Victoria in hand on the plane flying home, admiring one of his photos in it- and was wondering if he was living in Japan, with the news of the Horrific quake!-- I'm so thankful for the news that he is o.k..-- I really just love all of his photos in the older and classic Victoria's.--I think that a whole book of his photography with a lot of the pics he had in Victoria mag would be just a fabulous thing!--xo,Valery

  13. This gorgeous photo above--of Toshi's work- where was that taken? Just love it!!-,Valery

  14. This is a lovely post, Nancy. I am so glad you were able to find out that Toshi is safe. I am also heartened to know that if we here in the states can't be the beneficiaries of Toshi's creativity with his camera, those in his own country are the beneficiaries of his gift of song. Somehow, that seems poetic justice to me. As gifted as he is, I am sure he would bring the same attention to detail and knack for capturing radiance in making music that he brought us so consistently in his photography. To me, he is one of the great artists of our time, and I am thankful to have been on the receiving end of his giftedness via Victoria. Thank you for sharing a little about him here, and for alerting his many fans that he and his family are safe. The Central Park pieces that he captured are some that made an immediate impression -- having never been to New York, I delighted in those images of Vaux and Olmstead's masterpiece captured in the inimitable Toshi way -- and they linger in my memory to this day. Please encourage him that there would be many interested in having those images in a coffee table type book.


  15. I am so glad to know that Toshi and his wife are safe! Thank you for letting us know! Also I would like to ask that y'all do something to share his work. I would love to be able to pore over his photographs again!

  16. I am sorry to be so late in reading this post. I am grateful to know about Toshi Otsuki and his family. His photography in Victoria was an inspiration to me, someone who loves photography but could never be as successful as he is. We don't hear much about the people and the recovery in Japan nowadays, but I'm sure our prayers continue to be needed.

  17. I was just looking at the book Victoria, 500 Christmas Ideas and noticing that the photos I absolutely loved were, of course, by Toshi Otsuki. He has been such an inspiration to me and I was love to purchase his works and especially to learn his photo "secrets."

  18. I was talking to his nefew this morning , he is telling me that they are all fine today.