Azuma Sumako II
August 17, 1958 – July 24, 2020

Azuma Sumako II (Janice Aiso Edesa), 61, passed away on July 24, 2020 after a courageous, 24-year battle with brain and spinal cancer. She was predeceased by her grandmother Okawa Sosetsu, an Edo Senke tea ceremony instructor; mother Azuma Sumako I, a Nihon Buyo (classical Japanese dance) instructor; father Daniel Aiso, a WWII veteran and uncle Judge John Aiso. She is survived by her husband Richard Edesa; sister Yoko (Satoshi) Okada; niece Christine Okada-Seike (Andrew Seike); nephew Steven (Ivana) Okada and their children; stepdaughter Senta Edesa and her family; and other relatives.

Azuma Sumako II was born in Tokyo, Japan, but was raised in Southern California and graduated from Fairfax High School. Her mother and grandmother surrounded her with Japanese language and culture as a child. She showed tremendous talent in dance at a young age and studied in Japan for many summers under the Soke (Grand Master) of the Azuma school, Azuma Tokuho I. At age 14, she was awarded the natori (master) degree as a direct student of Mme. Azuma Tokuho I.

After the untimely death of her mother a few years later, young Sumako returned to Japan for one year and was an uchideshi (live-in) student under the Soke. She received her shihan (instructor’s) degree at age 19 and honored her mother’s legacy by returning to Southern California and continuing her mother’s dance school. She also earned the senmonbu (specialty instructor’s) degree and was considered the North American representative to Azuma Ryu in Japan. In her 45 years of teaching, Azuma Sumako II trained fourteen students to earn the natori (master) degree and one student to earn the shihan degree.

Sumako was honored as a Woman of the Year by the Downtown chapter of the JACL. She retired from her job as a corporate insurance broker (Senior Client Representative) for Marsh & McLennan Companies and had been teaching senior dance students until early 2020.

Due to community health conditions, burial will be private. A public memorial will be announced in the future. (213) 749-1449