Tokyo Artist Creates, Donates Kaleidoscope to Honor Chiune Sugihara

The Yomiuri Shimbun
From left, Yaotsu Mayor Masanori Kaneko, Koji Yamami and Hiroaki Wakamura stand around a kaleidoscope created by Yamami to showcase Chiune Sugihara’s achievements, in Yaotsu, Gifu Prefecture, on Aug. 1.

YAOTSU, Gifu — Artist Koji Yamami made a kaleidoscope to honor Chiune Sugihara, a diplomat who saved many Jewish people by issuing life-saving visas for them during World War II, and donated it to the Chiune Sugihara Memorial Hall in Yaotsu, Gifu Prefecture, last month.

About three years ago, Yamami, a resident of Tokyo, visited the memorial hall with Hiroaki Wakamura, president of Yaotsu-based Wakamura Electric Corp. The visit inspired Yamami to create a kaleidoscope showcasing the achievements of Sugihara (1900-86).

Yamami has previously created other themed pieces, including one based on Elvis Presley.

The eyepiece of the kaleidoscope is on top, while the front features various images, including Sugihara’s face, a visa and bamboo lilies, which are the town flower.

The kaleidoscope is on display at the memorial hall.

“The fact that Chiune followed his heart and saved all those people really made a huge impact on me,” Yamami said. “It made me wonder if I would be able to depict [his achievements] through the piece.”

Wakamura said: “It’s very beautiful. I hope everyone can see it.”