GAME ON (22)



Who the hell was Takashi Hashimoto?

Why do I ask? Well, because the other Japanese names that regularly crop up on early 'I MET' lists are of people I know much about: Hiroko Hiraoka, Nobu Fukui, Hirotsugu Aoki and Soroku Toyoshima. (See this website, passim.) Basically, Hiroko and those others I've just named were artists, born in Japan but working in New York, people who On Kawara talked with, and whose company he enjoyed, on a more or less daily basis. Takashi Hashimoto was there from the start of 'I MET', in Mexico City in the summer of 1968, and crops up again in both Lima and Buenos Aires as Hiroko and On travelled through South America. Then he was regularly met in New York throughout 1969 before disappearing in March of 1970. The name crops up again, albeit briefly, in November of 1970 when On Kawara met him in Japan. But who was Takashi? He wasn't an artist, or he would have left some trace of his work that Google would be able to alert me to. There is no such trace. And no trace either of a 'Takashi Hashimoto' subsequently that I can identify as an individual who was as close to On Kawara and Hiroko as this man clearly was.

I ask again: Who the hell was Takashi Hashimoto? All I have are the 'I MET' lists and the other daily self-observation series. I trust that if I study them hard enough and from a sufficient number of angles then I will discover what I need to know about this individual, who - I am going to start out by assuming - is both not to be forgotten and, in consequence, in urgent need of being brought back to life.


May. The beginning of 'I MET'. And the name Hashimoto was there from the start. Keiko Hashimoto and Magdalena Hashimoto on May 22, 1968. Followed by Francisco and Roberto about a week later. There was only one Hashimoto-less day in May. And only five Hashimoto-less days in June. On June 23, a fourth Hashimoto made a single appearance, and her name was Angela. Takashi Hashimoto turns up on July 22. His name is 11th on that day's 'I MET' list. Keiko is the fifth name. Magdalena the seventh and Roberto the 12th. Feast your eyes on this 'I MET' list because it is a particularly fine copy, taken from On Kawara: 10 Tableaux and 16,952 Pages, published by the Dallas Museum of Art in 2008.

qhpt0uxqqmgy56002biuibhsq_thumb_f06b Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

It is tempting to assume that the Hashimotos ran the Monte Carlo Hotel that On was staying at in Mexico City, though I haven't been able to confirm this. If the six were members of the one family, did it involve two parents and four children? Would the parents be two Japanese names (Keiko and Takashi) with Roberto, Francisco, Magdalena and Angela being the Spanish-named children? If it was a mixed-race marriage, of, say, Roberto and Keiko, then it seems strange that the four children were divided into three with Spanish names and only Takashi with a Japanese name.

Let's take a look at some more data. Having made his appearance on July 22, Takashi was met every day for the rest of the month. In those ten days, the number of appearances by other members of the family were:

Keiko 5
Magdalena 5
Roberto 5
Angela 2
Francisco 1

Takashi was also met on the first seven days of August. During which period, appearances by other members of the family were as follows:

Keiko 4
Magdalena 5
Roberto 4
Angela 2
Francisco 3

And then Takashi was gone. The pattern suggests to me that Takashi lived elsewhere, but already knew On Kawara. Perhaps they'd met when On was first in Mexico with his engineer father for a few years from 1959. All the other Hashimotos continued to be met for the rest of August and throughout September, On having been joined by Hiroko from September 10. On September 26, On and Hiroko flew out of the lives of the five Mexico City-based Hashimotos.

On October 12, On and Hiroko flew again, this time from Quito to Lima, and on the 13th of October, and for the next four days, they met Takashi Hashimoto. Here are reproductions of October 14, 15 and 16, taken from the mid-quality reproductions that Tama Art University, Tokyo, have this year rather handily put online:

mtwtwv4ftegf8avrn002bvnfg_thumb_eff6.ovvvdlhyqqcrbatfco3zog_thumb_eff7.wlikvp002bsti6002brsd7yi6cwa_thumb_eff1 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

On the 14th, the meeting must have gone on after midnight as Takashi's name heads the list on the 15th. On the 16th, Takashi and Hiroko were the only people On met, all of which emphasises Takashi's closeness to the pair.

Takashi then disappeared again, but turned up six weeks later in Buenos Aires. Below are the 'I MET' lists for December 4, the day of the rendezvous, and for December 9, the sixth and last day they spent in each other's company this time around:

ke7kct6bq0ms002bplgx6ob0025q_thumb_eff8.hsmt5nearm6fa9qprtxrkg_thumb_effd Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Takashi then disappeared. Again. By which I think I mean he went back to New York, which we'll come to soon enough. But something that On Kawara did from December 4 until the end of the month was to send one-gaucho and two-gaucho cards on alternate days to Kasper König. While a second two-gaucho card went to Frank Donegan and a second one-gaucho card, I assume, went to another person, whose identity I speculate about in this earlier essay, again on alternate days. This is a very strong and teasing pattern, not typical of what On Kawara had been doing with the postcards, and I feel that a conversation with Takashi Hashimoto may have inspired it.

Takashi Hashimoto, pastry chef?

Takashi Hashimoto, playboy of the Western world?

Takashi Hashimoto, painstaking/pisstaking practitioner of the arts?

Which is it? Well, we don't know yet, do we?


On the day that On returned to New York on the 1st of April, having been away from the Big Apple for exactly a year, he called in at Aoki's place, which is when he would have met Aoki and his wife, Teresa O'Connor. From there On went on to where he and Hiroko would stay for a few days at 53 Greene Street, which is where they would have met Nobu Fukui and his wife, Miyuku. However, also met that day was Takashi Hashimoto. I would guess he came round to Aoki's place, or Nobu's place, or both.

The next day was also spent with On's principle friends. He met 11 people in all, but Aoki, Nobu, Takashi and Soroku Toyoshima were on that list. Indeed the whole month was marked by resumptions of these intense male friendships. Of the 30 days in April, Nobu (who On and Hiroko stayed with until April 9) was met 23 times; Aoki (who On and Hiroko stayed with from April 10) was met 25 times; and Takashi Hashimoto whose home was a location unknown to me, was met 22 times. Apart from Hiroko, who was met every day, no-one else comes close. Soroku, the other close friend of On's was seen 11 times, but I guess family commitments - he was the father of two children by this time - took a toll on his ability to socialise with the returning Ullysses.

In May and June, Nobu, Aoki, Soroku and Takashi were each met about ten times a month (Nobu slightly more often than that) which takes us to July and the Apollo 11 mission. As you may already be aware, On Kawara made a big deal about the first moon walk and made a triptych of enormous Date Paintings on July 16, 20 and 21. Who did On invite to witness his process during this period? His regulars: Hiroko, Aoki, Nobu, Soroku and Takashi. But for the day of the moon walk, July 20, the people sharing On's studio were Hiroko Hiraoka and Takashi Hashimoto, as you can see from my own reconstruction of On Kawara's 'I MET' for that day:

JULY 20, 1969


Do you see why I am frustrated in not knowing who Takashi was? He was clearly a special guy in On's life. I feel the urge to know more about him. Which means digging ever more deeply into the 'I MET' lists.

I've been through the full year of 'I MET' lists for 1969. Takashi was part of On's inner circle the whole time from April 1 onwards. The number of days met each month were as follows:

April: 22
May: 11
June: 9
July: 10
August: 5
September: 15
October: 9
November: 14
December: 12

Which comes to a total of 107 days out of nine months (say 9 x 30 = 270 days). Being about the same as the number of days On met Nobu (117 days) and Aoki (110 days). Friendship or what? The Three Musketeers. What happens in that novel again? At the beginning of the story, D'Artagnan arrives in Paris from Gascony and becomes embroiled in duels alongside the three musketeers Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. One for all; and all for one. But in this case is it On Kawara that is D'Artagnan, the talented outsider? Or is it Takashi Hashimoto, with the other three being practising New York artists?

December 24, 1969, was On's 37th birthday. He met 21 people that day, so I think he celebrated the occasion. Included in this number were Nobu, Aoki, Soroku and Takashi. On December 25, Xmas Day, the party continued, On meeting 18 people. No Soroku this time, he keeps floating in and out of the main friendship group. But those I've identified as the three musketeers were in place to cross swords and light-sabres and minds with D'ARTagnON.

Takashi Hashimoto, elite swordsman?

Takashi Hashimoto, master swordsmith?

Takashi Hashimoto, sword swallower?

It must strike the alert reader that all I need to do is ask Nobu or Aoki or Hiroko who Takashi was, as these three individuals are still alive and would seem to be fully functioning in the memory department. But for various reasons I do not think I would get an answer. Nobu would be my best hope, if he resumes our correspondence. But I can't assume he is going to do that. January of 2023's revelations may be all that is forthcoming from that source.

So I must press on with my study of 'I MET'. Which is I suspect what On Kawara would have wanted.


How did I pinpoint the last time On Kawara met Takashi Hashimoto? I could see that Takashi was on several 'I MET' lists in March of 1970. There was nothing in April, May or June. So I went back to the first three months of the year and systematically noted the meetings.

On met Takashi on twelve days in January of 1970. (Aoki seven days, Nobu five and Soroku two). On January 13 and January 23 the only people On met were Hiroko and Takashi.

JAN 13, 1970


JAN 23, 1970


On did not meet Hiroko and any other of the significant friends in this way. One also needs to bear in mind that On had embarked upon painting a Date every day for as long as he could. Which would turn out to be three months.

On met Takashi on seventeen days of February. (Aoki four days, Nobu four and Soroku six.) On February 10 and February 17 the only people met were Hiroko and Takashi.

FEB 10, 1970


FEB 17, 1970


Three other significant individuals were also on lists that consisted of two names, Hiroko and another. These were Joseph Skorupa (unidentified), Katsuke Miyauchi (traveller, philosopher and novelist who had met On and been intrigued and impressed by him in Mexico), and Aoki. Remember that On was painting a Date every day still. Bear in mind also that from February 21, when he met fourteen people, he would be sending a postcard of the Statue of Liberty to Dan Graham for 120 consecutive days. On met Dan Graham this day, so it could have been a plan stitched up between them. But Takashi Hashimoto was met that day also, at about the same time (their names are separated only by Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, collectors) and the coincidence reminds me that Takashi was met when On began to alternate the sending out of one- and two-gaucho cards from Buenos Aires. So it's possible that Takashi contributed to some of On Kawara's most playful patterns, indeed in some ways his boldest work.

And so to March. On met Takashi on seven days of March. (Aoki four days, Nobu seven and Soroku three.) On met Takashi on the third and fourth, when Nobu was also on the day's list. He met him on the 13th and 14th. When Hiroko's was the only other name on either list.

MAR 13, 1970


MAR 14, 1970


(The switch of names doesn't need to be significant. On and Takashi were most likely talking after midnight on March 13 and there was no-one else met on March 14, except Hiroko.)

On met Takashi on the 21st and 22nd when Nobu was again present, as well as Hiroko obviously. The penultimate meeting was on the 24th, when three names were on the list, Takashi, Hiroko and Joseph Skorupa. And for the final time On met Takashi on March 25, when Hiroko and Aoki were the only others met. It seems to me that a serious of intense meetings took place in March as the friendship group said goodbye to Takashi. We must remember that On was painting a Date Painting every day still, only ending this monumental effort on March 31.

So what had happened? I assume Takashi left New York. A new career in a new town? How could he leave the orbit of On Kawara at such a time, when the intensity of his production and the gradually unfolding vision must have been intoxicating to be around? For some reason the opening lines of MacBeth come to mind:

First actor: "When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?"

Second actor: "When the hurly-burly's done. When the battle's lost and won."

Third actor: "That will be ere the set of sun."

Of course, I had to keep looking for Takashi's name. I'd already checked in vain the lists of April, May and June. His name did not appear on any 'I MET' list in July. Nor in August. Nor in September. Nor in October. And then in November On Kawara flew to Japan. And, to my delight, there was the name 'TAKASHI HASHIMOTO' on the 'I MET' list for November 17 and 18. Before investigating those occurrences I checked out the rest of the year, and until On left Japan at the end of January, 1971. No further occurrences of Takashi Hashimoto's name. Which makes the single/double Japanese meeting seem like an afterthought and an anti-climax.

So let's look at the November information more closely. On November 15, 'I WENT' shows On Kawara arriving at house near the Tama River in southern Tokyo. On met four people that day, the last names being Fumiko Kawahara and Jun Kawahara, Kawahara being On's true family name. His parents? On had not been in Japan since 1959, I suspect. A family reunion then, eleven years since they had last seen each other.

On November 16, 'I WENT' shows that On did not move out of the district, though he did take a wander around. It was clearly a big day for meeting family and friends. There are five members of the Kawahara family on the list, and three members of the Ishibashi family, who I think owned the property that On was staying in. Perhaps they had stayed clear of their own house the first day so that On could meet his parents alone. I could do with some advice on the likelyhood of this from a Japanese source.

cu1p0025wmbrpcxlesuygtlma_thumb_f074 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

On November 17, On got up at 8.20A.M. He was staying at the same address that he'd been since he arrived in Tokyo. He seems to have taken a train ride further into Tokyo involving changing lines.

Here is 'I MET' for November 17. The first five names were also on the previous day's list and it could be that the meeting then went on past midnight. If so the only new names - the only people met during the new day of November 17 - are the last two names, including Takashi's.

40025ib4gthqqezi8f7n0cvjq_thumb_f077 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

One immediately jumps to the conclusion that Takashi Hashimoto had turned up to see On, bringing a partner with him. His new girlfriend? But of course the two may have been friends. Or indeed they may have been completely unrelated.

0025002buwnjavsxkhnm63cjfq8w_thumb_efeb Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

I don't think the meeting on November 17 went on after midnight. Certainly, On got up at his usual Tokyo address at 6.59 A.M. on the morning of the 18th. Correction: the fact that Tamie and Takashi are the first two names on the list, suggest that On's meeting with them did go on until after midnight, but that he got back to base and then rose early. Then on the 18th proper he met the Ishibashi family again, who he was staying with, and Utako Kawahara, a member of his family that he was evidently close to. On the 18th, On travelled into Tokyo again and met five more people.

And that was it! It seems that the intimate ties that had bound On Kawara and Takashi Hashimoto were broken. I suspect the true break came back in March when Takashi decided to leave New York, presumably for Japan, where he may have met Tamie Odaka. Perhaps Tamie wasn't comfortable with On during the November meeting. Or perhaps either or both of On and Takashi could see that their relationship wasn't going to work any more. Perhaps it was an all or nothing kind of thing. It had been very important to them both, one suspects. But now what they had had - intellectually, artistically, socially - was out of reach.

Tama Art University are still in the process of publishing the 'I MET' lists. It is possible that Takashi's name will crop up again, and for sure I will be looking out for it. But I don't think I will be seeing it again. I have already checked right through 1971, 1972 and 1973.

What happened to Takashi Hashimoto? Did he become a banker in Tokyo and make no impact on the world, nothing that appears on the internet anyway? Perhaps he married Tamie Osaka and quietly raised a family. That's impact enough, especially if he taught his children what he had learned from On Kawara about time and art and how to live life in full consciousness.

I am going to order a t-shirt printed with an 'I MET' list over the chest. One of the eight or so 'I MET' lists that just feature Hiroko's and Takashi's names. I will wear it when I walk down the streets of Blairgowrie, Pitlochry and Dunkeld, and sooner or later someone will stop me and explain exactly who Takashi Hashimoto was and what his significance was to the work and life of On Kawara.

Which 'I MET' list will I choose? Well, the choice is between the following:

16 OCTUBRE 1968

JULY 20 1969

AUG 12 1969

JAN 13 1970

JAN 23 1970

FEB 10 1970

FEB 17 1970

MAR 13 1970

MAR 14 1970

It has to be JULY 20, 1969. The day man walked on the moon for the first time. While at 180 Centre Street, Hiroko and Takashi watched while On Kawara went on feverishly painting his Date. On didn't move from his studio that day. While Hiroko and Takashi kept switching their attention from the TV transmission of the moon walk (that On had made sure was available) to the painter's exhilarating activity down here on planet Earth.

Takashi: "Beautiful view."


Hiroko: "Isn't that something? Magnificent sight out here."


Takashi: "Magnificent desolation."