Sakae Ito aka (Hanayagi Wakana)
September 22, 1932 – May 24th 2018
Sakae Ito transitioned peacefully at 5:42 p.m. on May 24th 2018 with her family by her side in Torrance, California. Sakae, daughter of Masao and Shizuko Yamaguchi, was born in Tokyo, Japan on September 22, 1932 and was one of six children. Her eldest brother was a celebrated writer named Hitomi Yamaguchi.
Sakae moved to Los Angeles in 1996 with her late husband, Jerry Ito, a well-known entertainer in Japan and son of legendary Modern Dance pioneer, Michio Ito, to be closer to their two children who reside in Los Angeles.
Sakae was also known as Hanayagi Wakana, a Master Nihon-buyo Dancer and Master Sensei to many in Japan and Los Angeles. She had a long and illustrious career touring twice around the world in the 1950’s with the Azuma Kabuki Dance Company. She taught Japanese Theater Arts at the University of Toronto and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center at Yale University among other schools as well as taught privately for over seven decades. She was classically trained and known for her dedication to preserving traditional Japanese art forms.
Sakae is survived by her children, David and Michele Ito, her grand-children, Tiffany, Chelsea, Jeremy, Daichi, Aki, and her great-grand-children, Nick, Sophia and Julia. There will be a private memorial gathering in celebration of her life. May she dance forever in the hearts of those she touched. Rest In Peace.