Madame Fujima Kansuma (center) celebrated her 104th birthday at her studio at the JACCC with daughter Miyako Tachibana and granddaughter Miwa.

RAFU SHIMPO REPORT

Madame Fujima Kansuma, who continues to teach classical dance, recently marked her 104th birthday at her studio at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.

Born Sumako Hamaguchi in San Francisco on May 9, 1918, Madame Kansuma has taught more than 2,000 dancers, 50 of whom have been granted professional standing by kabuki grandmasters. She continues to inspire generations with her enduring grace and dedication to Japanese classical dance.

The classical Japanese dance studio resumed indoor instruction last September with very small classes, her daughter Miyako Tachibana explained.

“Since Osho-san would not approve of skipping okeiko (practice) to have a party, we had a small get-together at our keikoba at the JACCC after our regular okeiko,” said Tachibana.

Students brought family and even grandchildren to honor Osho-san.

“It truly was a wonderful celebration and she was so thrilled and overjoyed to see students who she missed since COVID,” Tachibana said.   

Following are some of the activities the Fujima Kansuma Kai has been involved with under the supervision of Madame Kansuma: 

A weekend conference at Pomona College, Claremont in honor of the late Leonard Cabell Pronko, Pomona College emeritus professor of theater and dance.  

Dr. Pronko studied kabuki buyo with Kansuma Sensei in the ’60s. When he began his own productions of kabuki at Pomona College, Madame Kansuma was asked to teach his students the fundamentals of kabuki buyo.  

As a tribute to Dr. Pronko, her students Fujima Kansuzu, Fujima Kansumi, Fujima Kansue, and Fujima Kansubai presented a lecture/demonstration on kabuki make-up, costume, and movement of the onnagata (a kabuki actor playing a woman).  

Miwa presented Osho-san with a birthday cake.

Fujima Kansuzu has been called back in this year’s production of “Wonderful World” at the world-reknowned “Pageant of the Masters” in Laguna Beach. She will be returning with two natori in this year’s production as well as teaching newly cast dancers.   

To assist the JACCC in offering classes to senior citizens in Little Tokyo, her students participated in an early-morning movement class teaching ondo to the residents of the community.   

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