SOUTH HADLEY - Michihiro (Yoshi) Yoshida, 88, of South Hadley, Massachusetts, (originally from Kurume, Japan), had his active and vibrant life snuffed out by a motorist who ran into him while he was crossing the street in front of his house, in a crosswalk, on his way to his usual 3-mile jog on Aug. 29, 2018.
Artist, rebel, novelist, gourmet cook, jogger, nurturer of plants and flowers, world traveler and adventurer, he was also one of the youngest World War II vets, serving as a trainer in the Japanese Air Force at the age of 15.
In 1966, Yoshi was on a round-the-world trip to meet people and visit great art museums and nature sites when he met Gloria Horowitz at a party in the Bronx, put his trip on hold, found an apartment, and began an epic relationship that lasted 45 years.
Yoshi and Gloria were living together by 1968, and he became a devoted second father to two of Gloria's children, Helen and Shel Horowitz. He finished the trip a few years later, writing wonderful letters from far-away places.
He and Gloria married in 1979, left the Bronx for New Jersey in 1993, and settled in a light-filled apartment in South Hadley with a view of the Mount Holyoke College campus in 2000, where Yoshi jogged every day for 18 years and then settled for a few hours in the Mount Holyoke library to read the Japanese newspapers.
Yoshi and Gloria traveled extensively together, visiting many parts of Europe, the US, Mexico, and Yoshi's native Japan. Following Gloria's death seven years ago, he traveled alone at age 82 to Japan when his school chose to honor him as a distinguished alum.
Known as "The Mythic Modernist," Yoshi's hundreds of paintings and sculptures combined nature, mythic imagery, surrealism, sensuality, and current events into startlingly fresh, vividly intense images: a half-clenched hand with teeth, a terrified mother holding her newborn as the World Trade Center crumbles, a dreamer surrounded by piles of books - asleep on the floor of a library. He exhibited widely in solo and group shows in New York City and Tokyo, as well as in Massachusetts (including solo shows at the State House and the Hosmer and Burnett Galleries), and his work is showcased on his website, ArtByYoshi.
But oil-on-canvas was only one of Yoshi's many creative arts. He won several major literary prizes for his Japanese-language suspense novels. His cooking was legendary among those who tasted it. And his ability to keep 100 or more houseplants healthy inside an apartment and many of them flowering astonished his family and friends.
Yoshi is survived by his stepchildren, Helen Horowitz (Joe Clayman) of Denver, Colorado; Shel Horowitz (Dina Friedman) of Hadley, Massachusetts and Jeanne Horowitz of Valley Cottage, New York; two nephews, Yusuke and Keisuke Endo of Japan; six grandchildren, Alana and Rafael Natan Horowitz Friedman; Naomi, Heidi and Pearl Clayman; Miriam (Clayman) Yablon and one great grandson, Eldad Chaim Yablon. His wife, Gloria Horowitz Yoshida, died in 2011.
A memorial service will be held on Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. at the Warbecke Room in Pratt Hall on the Mount Holyoke College campus (please park in the Village Commons lot across College Street from MHC if you are physically able to make the seven-minute walk). Donations in his memory may be made to The Mount Holyoke Fund, earmarked for the Library and Archives.
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Sep. 11, 2018.