Deaths Death Notices
TOMITA - Mutsuo Died peacefully on March 5, 2019, at 5:30 a.m., in Buffalo, NY, following a long illness. He was 84 years old. Mr. Tomita, as he was known by his students, was born in Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan in 1934, the youngest of four siblings. During World War II, having contracted tuberculosis, he was required to spend a year in his mother's and sisters' care, away from school and the company of other children. He began to study Ikebana as a young boy, at first under his mother's instruction. Mutsuo showed such promise that he was sent to Tokyo to the headquarters of the Ohara School to study in depth. In the 1970s, he was sent to the United States by the Ohara organization to work at the Ohara Center of New York, continuing his studies under the director, Mrs. Hortense Dean, and commencing his own teaching career. Upon Mrs. Dean's retirement, Mr. Tomita took over administrative responsibilities and was appointed Director of the Ohara School of Ikebana for North America and the Caribbean. Mr. Tomita thrived in New York City, teaching Ikebana classes to all levels of students, on an almost daily schedule. He conducted popular, rigorous biannual and annual seminars for teachers of Ikebana, drawing students from all over the U.S., Canada, and as far away as Kingston, Jamaica. He regularly traveled nationally, establishing 28 Ohara School chapters throughout North America and the Caribbean, and widely demonstrated to chapters of Ikebana International. He traveled internationally, representing the Ohara School, and assisting Third Headmaster Houn Ohara with demonstrations and workshops in North and South America. In addition to his teaching, Mr. Tomita used his talent to adorn major New York City restaurants and retail establishments. Takashimaya, Celine, Mr. Chow, and many other high spots boasted weekly creations by Sensei Tomita. Although the Ohara Center of New York was officially closed in 1995, Mr. Tomita continued to offer monthly seminars in New York City and Philadelphia, and demonstrations for I.I. chapters across the continent. In 2010, Mr. Tomita received his highest award from Ohara School, the Award of Honor (Meiji Ichijikam), at which time his name was written on the Memorial Stone at Ohara School Headquarters in Kobe and he was given an honorary lifetime membership in Ohara School. His teaching always came with exacting expectations and a very healthy dose of humor. He delighted in sharing beauty, nature, friendship, laughter, the opera, and bounteous meals. He will be sorely missed by his adoring students and friends. He is survived by his friend James Brophy, his sister Yoshiko Ito and niece Atsuko Aihara, of Sapporo, and nephew Hiroshi Tomita, of Hakodate. Interment is planned for the spring.