The NCCBF Community Marshal is a designation bestowed on individuals who have made a significant impact on the festival, the Japanese and/or the Japanese American community. Community Marshals have included legacy participants and community leaders.

The NCCBF committee is honored to introduce Madame Michiya Hanayagi of the Hanayagi Japanese Classical Dance Group as our 2020 Community Marshal! Madame Hanayagi has been a part of the festival since it’s inception and has been honored for her contributions to strengthening the relationship between the U.S. and Japan through dance. Madame Hanayagi, her daughter Michisuya Hanayagi, and their dance group can be observed performing at various festivals and events throughout the community. Thank you Hanayagi-sensei!

Photograph of Madame Michiya Hanayagi
Madame Michiya Hanayagi

 A native of Nagoya, Japan, Michiya Hanayagi studied traditional and classical Japanese dance since early childhood and continued her studies through her high school and college years. The Headmaster of the Hanayagi School in Tokyo recognized her as having attained the level of achievement qualifying her for the coveted Hanayagi teacher certification in 1947. There she began her teaching career. Her desire to continue with her dancing and to share this aspect of Japanese culture upon settling in the United States led her to establish the Michiya Hanayagi Dance Studio in 1956. She has been teaching classical Japanese dance to people of Japanese and non-Japanese ancestry. Since then, Michiya Hanayagi has presented her students in 53 recitals. 

Locally Michiya Hanayagi has been an advocate of the Japanese-American community in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. She has been instrumental in various S.F. Japantown events. Throughout her long career, the group supported and participated in local community events. Highlighting some of the annual events in SF Japantown are the “Aki Matsuri” (18 years), “Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) Kodomo No Hi” (23 years), “JCCCNC Oshogatsu Festival” (15 years) and the Annual Osaka Matsuri (4 years). Because of her contributions towards promoting the Japanese culture, she has been recognized by many organizations. In 1993, JCCCNC honored her with the “Cultural Heritage Award”, acknowledging her for her contributions to the Japanese-American community. The Northern California Cherry Blossom Committee recognized her with a Cherry Blossom Festival Award for 50 consecutive years of participation in 2017. The Michiya Hanayagi group is one of the few groups to have participated in all 53 annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festivals. Michiya Hanayagi was designated head instructor-choreographer in 1974 for the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the founding of the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) based in San Francisco. Over 2000 dancers came from all over the United States and Japan to congregate around the Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco to participate in this Commemorative Ondo Festival. In 1976, the International Institute of the East Bay recognized Michiya Hanayagi’s efforts to promote goodwill between Japanese and American cultural worlds and she was presented with their Award of Merit. This award is presented to foreign-born persons who are outstanding representatives of their ethnic communities. As a Choreographer and Instructor as well as a participant at the various Bay Area Buddhist Churches at the Obon festivals, BCA and many of the local Buddhist Churches have honored her with 25, 40, 50, and 60 years of service awards. With her daughter, Michisuya Hanayagi, their dedication and involvement in the Obon festivals have reached 62 years and 23 of them have been in S.F. Japantown. 

Photo by Mark Shigenaga

Michiya Hanayagi has shared her knowledge of Japanese classical dance throughout the United States. In California she has demonstrated her art in such locations as Disneyland’s “Festival Japan”, Los Angeles’ Nisei Week and various college campuses. Under the auspices of the Japan Consulate and Japan Society, Michiya Hanayagi has given demonstrations and performances in various cities in California, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Wisconsin, Texas, and Hawaii. In 1993 and 1994 her group participated at the Annual “Matsuri – A Festival of Japan” at Heritage Square in Phoenix, Arizona. They had performed in the “Dento Geino Festival” at MGM Grand Hotel as well as the festival’s parade in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1996 and 1997. Her talents as a choreographer have been displayed at the Opera; “Madame Butterfly”, “Ghost Memories” and “Pacific Overture” in which she had been nominated for the “S.F. Bay Area Theatre Critics Award” for Best Choreography. 

During Michiya Hanayagi’s 64-year career, she had broadened her sights even further by introducing her group internationally. In 1977, she and her two daughters, Michisuya Hanayagi and Michisenya Hanayagi performed at the prestigious Kabuki Theatre in Tokyo, Japan in a recital honoring the late Hiroyuki Hanayagi. She and her group had performed for the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) at Expo ’86 – Vancouver, Canada, Expo’88 – Brisbane, Australia, Expo’90 – Osaka, Japan, and Expo’92 – Genoa, Italy. Through Japan Airlines (JAL), Michiya Hanayagi has performed all over California, in South Carolina, Colorado, New York, Washington, and in several cities of Mexico. She also sponsored the “Hanayagi Summer Tours” to Japan that allowed her to share her love of Japan with American tourists on chartered flights. In 1975, JAL recognized her for 10 years of service. 

In 2004, Michiya Hanayagi was honored as one of the recipients of The Foreign Minister’s Commendation in Commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the US-Japan Relationship. Because of her contributions towards promoting the Japanese culture through Japanese classical dance, she was presented with this very prestigious award. 2006 was a very special year for Michiya Hanayagi since it marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Michiya Hanayagi Japanese Dance Studio as well as her 50th year of choreographing, teaching, and participating in obon in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2007, for her contribution to the culture of Japan practiced here in America and the relationship in the S. F. Community, the Japanese-American Association of Northern California (JAANC) honored Michiya Hanayagi into the “Bunka Hall of Fame”. 

The Hanayagi School honored Michiya Hanayagi with the prestigious “Ryuho Sho” award in January 2008 at the Tokyo Kaikan in Japan. Selected from among 7,000 Hanayagi Shisho (teachers) in the world, she was recognized for her meritorious deeds of contributing to the art of classical Japanese dance for 52 years. 

On June 2, 2009 Michiya Hanayagi achieved one of the highest honors in her career, the “Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays”, by the Japanese Government. In honor of Michiya Hanayagi, the Consul General of Japan presented her with this prestigious award at the conferment ceremony at his residence. She was recognized for her contributions towards promoting the Japanese culture through Japanese classical dance and for encouraging goodwill between the United States and Japan. 

In February 2010, the Buddhist Churches of America once again honored Michiya Hanayagi with a special achievement award, which symbolized her dedication to the BCA and for her commitment to teaching and sharing her knowledge of the Japanese culture through Obon and Japanese classical dance for over 50 years in the U.S. 

In March of 2012, Michiya Hanayagi was recognized by the City and County of San Francisco and was presented with the “Certificate of Honor” by the Mayor of San Francisco, The Late Honorable Edwin M. Lee for her service and achievements as a Buyo Classical Japanese Dance Instructor and Dance School Founder. She was also selected by the San Francisco “National Japanese American Historical Society” for her contribution in post war. In the end of March, the “San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women” honored Michiya Hanayagi with an official Resolution recognizing her contributions and for dedicating her efforts in sharing Japanese culture through traditional dance throughout the U.S. and her role as a pillar of the local Japanese American cultural community in San Francisco. 

Because of their devotion and dedication to the art of Japanese classical dance, Michiya Hanayagi and Michisuya Hanayagi continue to educate future generations this form of Japanese art to preserve the Japanese culture in America. 

Photo by Mark Shigenaga