Born May 9, 1918, Madame Fujima Kansuma is a celebrated Japanese American kabuki dancer and teacher whose career began in the early 1940s and spanned decades. After studying under the “God of Theatre,” Onoe Kikugoro VI, in Japan, she was requested to perform her pieces in different concentration camps while still incarcerated in Arkansas during World War II. Because she dedicated her life to sharing the culture of kabuki and her Japanese heritage in the United States, Madame Kansuma is the recipient of numerous awards: most notably, the Order of the Precious Crown, Apricot, by the Japanese government in 1985; and, the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1987.
In 2018, at 100 years old, she was the choreographer for the Los Angeles Nisei Week Parade. That same year, the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center hosted her centennial birthday celebration for which this film was produced. At present, Madame Fujima Kansuma maintains her role as a teacher and choreographer along with her daughter, Miyako Tachibana, who also became a master kabuki dancer and instructor. Madame Kansuma’s legacy endures through her and the hundreds of students with whom she has influenced.
Directed by Yuka Murakami
Learn more about Madame Kansuma and the film. Learn More
Watch a Q&A with filmmaker Yuka Murakami and Madame Kansuma’s daughter, Miyako Tachibana, and longtime student, June Berk, who were both featured in the film.
This film was produced for the program Fujima Kansuma: 100th Birthday Celebration, a co-presentation of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, Japanese American National Museum, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts. It received federal support from the Smithsonian Asian Pacific Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.