Lillian Nakano is a master of the Japanese shamisen, a long-necked, three-string lute that is the main instrument of kabuki theater and other classical narrative ballad forms of music. Nakano was raised in Hawai’i and began studing shamisen and classical dance at the age of eight. Her studies were interrupted by World War II and by her family’s internment in Jerome, California and Heart Mountain. Upon release in 1945, she resumed her studies, and in 1955, under the tutelage of Madame Kineya Shofuku of the prestigious Kineya School, received the “natori” certificate and a professional name, Kineya Fukuju. In 1996, she co-created the SanMi Ensemble with her late nephew Glenn Horiuchi.
Master Musician Fellowship, 2001