Mikio Toki

Guest of Honor

Renowned Master of traditional Edo style kites, Mikio Toki, elevates the art of Japanese kite making. 🎨 Committed to passing on his expertise through workshops, he ensures this cultural heritage flies high for generations.

Mikio Toki was born and raised in the Nakano ward of Tokyo, Japan in 1950. Since his childhood, Toki enjoyed drawing and was surrounded and influenced by the styles of the Tokyo kites. He made his first kite at around the age of ten using traditional Japanese “washi” paper and bamboo rods he got by splitting a broom handle he had in his home. In 1969, Toki entered the University of Design in Tokyo to study graphic design and illustration. 4 years later, he joined the Edo Kite Preservation Society where he met the late Katsuhisa Ota, the founder of the Society and the master Toki apprenticed under. Under kite master Ota, Toki began specializing in the traditional “Edo-Kaku-Dako” kites specific to the Tokyo region. These kites are made from traditional handmade “washi” paper and bamboo rods, are rectangular in shape, and has many long bridle lines and a hummer. Toki paints breathtaking images of samurai warriors and auspicious motifs from traditional Japanese storybooks, Kabuki theater, and Ukiyo-e using “sumi,” a black ink, and dyes to create an effect close to stained glass when the kite is flown in the sky.

Ever since his time working for the Minami Shinozaki Children’s Center, which is an educational institution which hosted after school programs for youth in 1975, Toki has been heavily involved in education of this traditional art both in Japan and abroad. At the Children’s Center, Toki founded the Kite Club and led the students to break the Japanese record for the longest train-kite. Since 2001, Toki has been leading the Japanese kite workshops alongside the Japan America Society of Southern California which has served over 17,000 elementary school students in the greater Los Angeles area.

Over the years Toki’s work has been recognized across the globe at various exhibitions and festivals including the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art in Israel, the Doha Cultural Festival in Qatar, the Philippine-Japan KITE Making & Flying INVITATIONS in the Philippines, the Sydney Japan Foundation Gallery in Sydney. He has also led countless kite making demonstrations at renowned events such as the Epcot World Festival of Kites at Walt Disney World and the Smithsonian Museum. Every year, Toki’s kites are on display at shopping centers, hotels, and on the premises of large Japanese corporations during the New Year holiday.

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