Masakazu Yoshizaki 1931- 2007


    Masakazu Yoshizaki passed away February 20, 2007 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. Born in Sakhalin, he spent most of his life in Hokkaido. He had been in bad health for some time, spending the last several years of his full life under medical care. His associates throughout Japan, East Asia,  Europe, Alaska, Canada, and the U.S. knew him as a dynamic archeologist and scholar who loved life and enjoyed people. His interest in archaeology began in junior high school. He started an archaeology club in his school but found that he had to compete with the school baseball team for funds and, unlike many in Japan who consider baseball the national sport, he could not enjoy the game after that. In 1954 he received his M.A. in archaeology from Meiji University in Tokyo. In 1960 he joined the staff of the Hakodate City Museum in Hokkaido. He was an active part of the research group that demonstrated there was, indeed, a Paleolithic occupation in Japan. His recognition of the Upper Palaeolithic Yubetsu blade production technique led to the systematic study of stone working around the North Pacific.

    In recent years his interests shifted from the Palaeolithic to agricultural origins as well as the origins of the Ainu and the Japanese. This suited his deep interest in science applied to archaeology. He became an avid environmentalist and was instrumental in a campaign that brought salmon back to the Toyohiro River. He was a founding member of the Come Back Salmon Society and served as President of the Society for a period.

    Yoshi, as he came to be known by his western friends, was always open to innovative techniques and new research directions. He was the first of a series of Japanese archeologists who visited the University of Wisconsin in the 1960s and used the opportunity to convince colleagues in both countries of the importance of international communication. After his experience in Wisconsin he no longer considered himself an archaeologist. He had become an anthropologist. Anthropology informed his approach to nearly everything in life after that. He returned to Hakodate in 1964 and in 1970 accepted a position in the Faculty of Literature at Hokkaido University where he taught anthropology and archaeology for 25 years, touching the lives of countless students who would become doctors, lawyers, teachers, computer scientists, business people and yes, even archaeologists. He retired from Hokkaido University in 1995 but continued to teach at Sapporo International University until his health no longer permitted. Yoshi welcomed visitors and encouraged cooperative projects. He lived at the center of a large and warm social network that spanned the world. He was interested in everything (except baseball) and worked with an intensity that always made time for off the beaten track adventure, jazz, fishing, dinner at a special restaurant, or a visit with a fascinating acquaintance. It’s an understatement to say that he will be missed.

Gary W. Crawford                                                        Peter Bleed

Department of Anthropology                                        Department of Anthropology

University of Toronto Mississauga                               University of Nebraska

Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 1C6                        Lincoln, NE 68588-0368