Mr. Nishida was an automata designer, author, teacher, and the Director of the Contemporary Toy Museum of Japan.
Sue Jackson, founder of of Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, says that "Aquio was very remarkable, as he not only made automata himself but also wrote his own book on the subject which was translated in 2 languages, and ran his own, very extensive, exhibition. I was honored to receive one of the first toys -- which I still have -- on meeting him for the first time in Japan. Aquio and I exchanged merchandise, his book for our videos and book; The relationship worked well for both of us."
His automata were notable for their graceful lines, beautiful wooden gears, and their all-wood construction, which included even the linkages, pivots, and fasteners.
Mr. Nishida often incorporated music boxes into his works adding to their already considerable charm. He was particularly adept at creating automata that accurately depicted legged animals in motion.
Mr. Nishida was the author of one of the best books on making contemporary automata, entitled Automata: Movable Illustration (Tokyo, Japan: Fujin Seikatsu, 2002). Written in parallel Japanese and English text, the book is part journal, part sketchbook, part do-it-yourself manual. Movable Illustration examines Nishida's process of automata creation and construction. The book manages to offer helpful advice to aspiring makers, while also serving as a portfolio of his beautiful work. The detailed plan drawings and full page color photographs of the Nishida's distinctive automata make this book a delight to peruse.
Here is some video footage of some of Nishida's automata:
He was known to be a generous teacher to those wishing to learn how to make wood automata. He leaves behind a fine legacy of outstanding craftsmanship, playfulness, and artistry. He will be missed by many.
Here is a series of photographs from a Nishida exhibit.
Mr. Nishida's book, Movable Illustration, is imported from Japan and may be ordered from the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre online shop.
Update: 10 March 2009 Sadly CMT has no books in stock at this moment.