Yoshiko Kakudo, philanthropist and Asian Art Museum’s first curator of Japanese art, dies

Yoshiko Kakudo, the Asian Art Museum’s first curator of Japanese art, passed away peacefully Jan. 12, 2016, after a long illness resulting from a stroke.

Born June 15, 1934 in Osaka, Japan, Kakudo received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Kobe College in 1957 and her master’s degree in decorative art from UC Berkeley in 1964.

She joined the museum’s Avery Brundage Collection as a research assistant in 1964. She became the curator of Japanese art in 1970 and held that position until her retirement in 1994. She also cared for the Korean Art Collection until 1989.

Kakudo curated and co-curated more than 30 exhibitions, participated in symposia, gave lectures, and wrote articles on the museum’s Japanese collection and on Japanese art. Her “Art of Japan: Masterworks in the Asian Art Museum” won first prize in the museum catalogue category of the American Association of Museums’ publication contest. Together with Glenn Glasow, Kakudo translated “Confronting Silence: Selected Writings by Tōru Takemitsu,” a 20th century composer; and a book of poetry by Shozo Kajima, “Evening Clearing.”

Kakudo was also a potter, an artist, calligrapher, poet and philanthropist. She donated her family’s tea house, named Shogetsu-an, to the Hakone Foundation and the city of Saratoga. Built in the early 20th century in the Kakudo estate in Osaka, in 2001, Kakudo had it disassembled and shipped to the U.S. to be reassembled in the Hakone Gardens.

She designated that the remainder of her estate be distributed through the Yoshiko Kakudo Donor Advised Fund in the San Francisco Foundation.

Kakudo was inducted into the Bunka Hall of Fame in 2012, an award sponsored by the Hokka Nichibeikai, the Japanese American Association of Northern California.

Kakudo’s life partner, Glenn Glasow, and her sister Haruko Ban preceded her in death. She is survived by various siblings and relatives. Gifts may be made to the Yoshiko Kakudo Memorial Acquisition Fund for Japanese Art, Asian Art Museum Foundation, 200 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA 94102. The funeral and celebration of Kakudo’s life will be held Saturday, Feb. 6 at 10 a.m. at the Chapel of St. Albert the Great, 6172 Chabot Road in Oakland, Calif.

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