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

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

He began his performing career while dancing with the Yokoyama Ballet troupe in Japan. After arriving in the U.S., he settled in New York City, studying 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 started a family, raising two children while pursuing their creative work. They moved from New York City to Montclair, which became their home for 50 years. In the early 1970s, the couple purchased an old carriage house, and he spent years renovating and building it out to create a home for his family and a studio for his mime work and his wife’s dance classes. 

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

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

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

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

His video “Dream Journey,” which premiered on Public Television in 1995, received several international awards, including the Ciné Golden Eagle award, a New York Emmy nomination, the Chris award and the Charleston International Silver award.

From 1997 on, he appeared annually at international dance and mime festivals and toured in many European countries, and in 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 to their home. Mr. Hakoshima continued to work on creative projects and taught mime at the nearby Institute of American Indian Art. He enjoyed visiting with his neighbors and tending his garden until the end of his days. 

He is survived by his daughter, Anja Hakoshima (Tom Richardson) and grandson, Dylan; his son, Maho Hakoshima (Peggy Gilday) and 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 gathering is planned for mid-October in Santa Fe.

Arrangements were by Rivera Family Funerals & Cremations of Santa Fe.