Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

On the 10th, one of my good friends, Mannojo Nomura of the 300-year old Izumi school of kyogen passed away suddenly. He was 44. His father and grandfather were both Japanese living national treasures and he was scheduled to take his grandfather's Manzo Nomura title in January. Our family house in Iwate used to have a no/kyogen theater and we had hosted his family in the past many years before I was born. A few years ago, Mannojo and I met up through Enjin 01, a cultural non-profit organization that we are both on the board of. He was always very cheerful and thoughtful and we talked a lot about rebuilding our family relationship. We had planned to travel to Iwate together soon. I'm really going to miss him...

Last week the grandmother in the house next door passed away and we had the first funeral in our little village. The village is still mourning the loss. Although I didn't know the woman, I can feel the mourning in the air.

Then, the day before yesterday, Kazuo Sato, the CEO of Net One Systems passed away. I met Mr. Sato through Osamu Sawada who used to be our COO at Neoteny. Mr. Sawada will be taking the CEO role now at Net One Systems. Mr. Sato and I met several times and I remember him being extremely driven and generous. We had agreed to go to dinner sometime and discussed working together more closely, but we had both been busy and hadn't gotten around to it. Net One Systems is one of the largest and fastest growing network solution providers and Mr. Sato is famous for building the extremely successful company with his focus and strength of character.

I'm sorry for clumping three obituaries together in one post, but they're all fresh in my mind right now...



One of the most enjoyable things about your weblog is that you periodically take a moment and talk briefly about events in your life that span time. That make the passage of time palpable and meaningful in a way that is not common to Westerners like myself.

I envision these blog entries as small well crafted time capsules that you send aloft in bubbles drifting up into the blogsphere. Or perhaps a candle set adrift in a stream.

I'm sorry for your loss.


-Life is UNCERTAIN but death is CERTAIN-

Thanks Douglass. I always wonder if anyone cares about these sort of personal notes.

Nellie, indeed. HOW you die is uncertain though...

You said "His father and grandfather were both Japanese living national treasures and he was scheduled to take his grandfather's Manzo Nomura title in January." Why were his father and grandfather living national treasures? What does it mean to assume one's grandfather's Manzo Nomura title? Sorry if I'm now revealing an appalling ignorance of Japanese culture. Thanks, Peter

Joi, it's always good to hear how things are going in your life. Good or bad. It's what makes you real to people, at least to me. If all we did was talk about technology, we'd be pretty boring people.

My condolences...


I read your obituary at work and was going to write a short note expressing my condolences to you when I got home. As I drove home, I got a call from a close friend who informed me that his brother had just gotten killed in a motorcycle accident a few minutes ago. The three of us had just spent some really fun-filled time together quite recently, and so it was an especial shock to me. In an instant of a second, your comments on death had suddenly put on a totally new, real, and terrible dimension...

My condolences are with you at this hard time, Joi.

"As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer." Ps. 103

Joi - sorry to read about your losses. You're in my thoughts.

where there is life, there is death. there is no tomorrow, there is just now. we forget this when we get busy with life, and tend to think there is a tomorrow, but really, there is not, there is just now.

my condolences on your loss. it is time to honor the life of those who just completed it. what a fortunate person you are to have known them!

Peter. Living National Treasures are designated by the Ministry of Culture in Japan. They are usually for people who are important figures in Japanese arts and crafts.

In traditional arts "houses" one of the children of each generation (sometimes the children area adopted) becomes the head of the family and changes their name to the name that designates the head of the family. In the case of the 300 year old Izumi house, the head is always named Manzo Nomura. So my friend would have changed his name to Manzo Nomura when he took over the house.

Wow. The naming of the head of the house is pretty fascinating. Thanks.

And I'm sorry to learn about these people passing.

Hope your memories comfort you at this sad time. It is truly a gift meeting and talking to people and sharing their lives. Sometimes when we lose people, especially in death it gives us a great opportunity to really reflect on their gifts to us. I know even years later things and situations will trigger a new appreciation of their lives. A persons spirit is truly the gift that keeps on giving :-) But, it would be better to keep them here with us...wouldn't it?