Shozo Sato is a theatre director and master of Zen arts. Born in Japan in 1933, Sato holds a degree in Fine Arts from Bunka Gakuin College, Tokyo. Sato was officially adopted into the Kabuki family of Nakamura Kenzaburo XVII, and given the name Nakamura, Kanzo IV. Sato is a master of the highest order of Chado, Japanese Tea Ceremony, Ikebana (flower arranging) and Sumi-e (black ink painting). He has published books extensively on these subjects. Sato was the founding director of Japan House, a Japanese cultural center serving the University of Illinois, where he is Professor Emeritus. He was granted a Ph.D. from Towson University in 1997 and a D.F.A. from the University of Illinois in 1998.
In 1992, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan awarded Sato the Certificate of Commendation for his promotion of Japanese culture throughout the world. In 2003, he received the first Cultural Achievement Award from the Japan American Society of Chicago. And in 2004, Sato was awarded one of the highest honors, The Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Emperor of Japan. Sato has received national and international recognition for creating a new form of Kabuki in which the plots of well-known Western classics have been adapted to introduce a new genre in the conventions of Kabuki. He has conceived, designed, and directed award-winning productions of Kabuki Lady MacBeth (2005: Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Iago’s Plot (1996); Achilles: A Kabuki Play (1991); Kabuki Othello (1988); Kabuki Faust (1986); Kabuki Medea (1983); and Kabuki MacBeth (1978). These works have captivated and thrilled audiences throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Japan, and the United States.
In 1992, Shozo Sato retired from teaching and being Director of the original Japan House. He, and his wife Alice, moved to Northern California where he established the Center for Japanese Art. In 2015, Professor Sato and his wife returned to Champaign where he is still teaching and giving demonstrations. Through his continued support and inspiration are we able to celebrate both the legacy and the future of Japan House.
Although Sato Sensei is retired, he still teaches classes and gives lectures all over the country.