Obituary: Yasuhiko ‘Yass’ Hakoshima

Yasuhiko “Yass” Hakoshima, acclaimed mime and former longtime resident of Montclair, died peacefully on July 31, 2022 at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was 93 years old.

Mr. Hakoshima was born in 1928 to Asaka and Yasugoro Hakoshima of Fukuoka City, Kyushu, Japan. He was raised and educated in Japan before moving to the United States in the late 1950s.

He began his performing career dancing with the Yokoyama Ballet troupe in Japan. Arriving in the United States, he settled in New York, studied modern dance with Erick Hawkins and mime with Etienne Decroux. While training with Hawkins in New York, he met German-born modern dancer Renate Boué.

They married in 1962 and founded a family, raising two children while continuing their creative work. They moved from New York to Montclair, which became their home for 50 years. In the early 1970s, the couple bought an old coach house and spent years renovating and building it to create a home for his family and a studio for his mime work and his family’s dance lessons. woman.

In the late 1960s, Mr. Hakoshima made his stage debut in New York and at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, then embarked on a 10-year tour of the United States, performing in more than 400 cities in 49 States. Both choreographer and performer, he has created scenic movements for many modern plays, worked in film and television, and collaborated with musicians and sculptors to achieve a synthesis of the performing arts.

In 1976 he established the Yass Hakoshima Mime Theater and has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Suntory Foundation, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Soros Foundation, of the Deluxe Corporation Foundation and many other corporations and individuals.

He became an international favourite, touring from New Zealand to Montreal, Hong Kong to Berlin.

Mr. Hakoshima’s work was a fusion of East and West, as well as a blend of music, art and literature, combining the tradition of mime, the mystery and fatalism of Japanese theater and the expansion of modern dance.

His video “Dream Journey”, which premiered on public television in 1995, received several international awards, including the Cine Golden Eagle Award, a New York Emmy nomination, the Chris Award and the Charleston International Silver Award.

From 1997, he performed annually at international dance and mime festivals and toured many European countries, as well as Asia and South America. He continued to teach and perform well into his 80s.

In 2018, the couple moved to Santa Fe, where they found a new circle of good friends and welcomed family and visitors into their home. Mr. Hakoshima continued to work on creative projects and taught mime at the nearby Native American Art Institute. He liked to visit his neighbors and maintain his garden until the end of his days.

He is survived by his daughter, Anja Hakoshima (Tom Richardson) and his grandson, Dylan; his son, Maho Hakoshima (Peggy Gilday) and his grandsons Henry and Lucas; and nephews Takashi and Kenichi Kawasaki.

Mr. Hakoshima was predeceased by his sister, Chieko Hakoshima Kawasaki, and his beloved wife, Renate Boué Hakoshima.

A memorial rally is scheduled for mid-October in Santa Fe.

Arrangements have been made by Rivera Family Funerals & Cremations of Santa Fe.

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