This text, which is a summary of the part of the interview conducted at Kyoto Tachibana High School on April 24, 2018 is specially written for this website by Rei’ichirō Fukuno (福野礼一郎, Wikipedia), a writer, with the request from orangedevilsfan and Trueman Nishi -san. The contents are divided into five parts. No contents that were pledged with Kyoto Tachibana High School never to be made public are included in this document. On the basis of copyright, no part of this document may be reproduced without permission. Also release of any Japanese texts translated from this English document will be strictly forbidden.
Responsible for the interview and original text: Rei’ichirō Fukuno. Photographs (when indicated): Masayuki Arakawa (GENROQ). English translation: K. Hatano. Coordination: Trueman Nishi.
Professor Hisashi Hiramatsu (平松久司), Special Advisor of Kyoto Tachibana High School Wind Music Club:
Brief biography of professor Hiramatsu (平松久司): Born in Aichi Prefecture on January 1 in 1935. Graduated from Kunitachi College of Music. Got a position as a principal trumpeter of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra. After leaving the orchestra due to lung tuberculosis and spending one year and a half for rest and recuperation, took a job as a music teacher at Kyoto Tachibana Girls’ High School and established the Wind Music Club. Has taken the positions as President of All-Japan Band Association (2006-), President of Kansai Wind-Instrument Music Teachers’ Association, President Emeritus of Green Band Association. Certified Marching Band Trainer. Awarded Person of Local Cultural Merit in 1991. Person of Kyoto-City Cultural Merit in 1994. Tōdō Music Award in 2000. At present, doubles as the Special Advisor of Kyoto Tachibana University Wind Orchestra.
(Being gentle, kind, and thoughtful, he has a great humanity. I think Mr. Yokoyama (Hirofumi Yokoyama, Band Coach) is probably one of the people attracted by his humanity. When we were leaving after the interview, professor Hiramatsu kept waving with a great smile until we disappeared completely from view. He is called “shishō” (=master) in Kyoto Tachibana Junior & Senior High School including school clerks, and loved and respected by them.)
The Origin of the School Name and the Site Location:
The school was founded in April 1902 as Kyoto Handicraft Girls’ School by Takeo Nakamori (中森孟夫) (1868-1946) (more info of him at school site here). It was renamed to Kyoto Tachibana Girls’ Senior High School and Kyoto Tachibana Girls’ Junior High School in April 1957. Before moving the school building in April 1985, it used to be situated 350 meters west (where Kyoto Brighton Hotel is presently) of Kyoto Imperial Palace, and it got the name from Ukon no Tachibana (右近橘) (a mandarin tree on the right) of the Palace. As the land was sold for a high price during the bubble economy period, they bought a land three times as large in Momoyama, and constructed handsome school buildings. Just north of the school site is Fushimi Momoyama Ryo (伏見桃山陵), the burial ground of Emperor Meiji, managed by the Imperial Household Agency. Kihata-yama (木幡山) has long been known as a great sightseeing spot where Tachibana no Toshitsuna (橘俊綱), a writer of Japan’s oldest garden book Sakutei-ki (作庭記) and waka poet, built the grand Fushimi-so in the Heian Period. In the Genroku Period, a lot of cherry trees were planted there and the place came to be called as Momoyama (桃山). Toyotomi Hideyoshi built Kihata-yama Fushimi Castle there as his living place after retirement. It is one of the word origins of the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (安土桃山時代) (1573-1603) that came as the final phase of the Sengoku Period (戦国時代) (1467-1590). It is in a wonderful environment surrounded by abundant greenery.
On Establishment of Wind Music Club:
Professor Hiramatsu, who became a music teacher at Kyoto Tachibana Girls’ High School in 1961, established the Wind Music Club by making use of his experience in that field. The number of the first members was 16. There were very few girls’ schools in those days that had a wind music club. Once he started leading them, however, he was keenly aware of significant differences between boys and girls because the members had difficulty in diaphragmatic breathing and their breath didn’t last long enough. Taking a doctor’s advice into consideration, and thinking they could make up for it by building up basic physical strength, he took up marching as a practice. It was no surprising matter back then that there was no school whose female students engaged in marching. What’s worse, since marching gave an image of military forces, a lot of parents tried to make their daughters leave the club saying “That’s disgraceful, because they are girls.”
Taking Part in Japan World Exposition, Osaka 1970:
The opportunity to give the club credit came when they participated in the Japan World Exposition, Osaka 1970 (March 15 – September 13). Together with three prestigious bands as Hankyū Boys Music Band (阪急少年音楽隊), which was established by Ichizō Kobayashi (小林一三), the founder of Hankyū Railway, Tōhō, and Takarazuka Revue, and Tenri Senior High School Band (天理高校吹奏楽部), they performed marching in the Expo site and the Theme of Festival Plaza (Main Venue) to lead guest participants such as Policemen in the World. Though they had a hard time following the pace of other male bands with long steps, the successful performance at their first big stage led to their confidence in girls’ marching. In 1972, Japan Marching Band Association was founded and the present marching step size of “eight steps to five meters” was established, which opened up the possibility of female marching even more. On December 23, 1973, they took part in the 1st Marching Festival (now “Japan Marching-band Baton-twirling Contest“) held in Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium as a female marching band. The band attracted attention even in Tokyo, which had had a tradition of military-style marching since the Meiji Period.
UK Tour in 1975:
When he visited Europe for the first time for a short-term training program promoted by the Ministry of Education, he keenly felt that, as a teacher, he hadn’t told his students about the reality of overseas countries and people. He strongly hoped to let his students see the wonderful cultures that he had seen, which led to the band’s participation in Harrogate International Youth Bands Festival held in Harrogate, North Yorkshire in March 1975 (30 members* – from his memory). In the snowing cold weather, they played music at the public hall and performed a parade and drill in the city. They received a very warm welcome there. As they wore a green coverall and a tennis skirt, the local paper ran an article saying “Won’t they catch a cold in this clothing?” The students, however, were all fine without even catching cold. They also stayed with local host families for a week. The teary farewell with their host families on the platform of the railway station was so moving that he decided to let the band members do homestay every time they had an overseas trip.
* – In later recollection professor Hiramatsu clarified that the band was a joint band composed of 30 members of Tachibana, 19 members from St. Agnes’ School and one member from Kyoto Prefectural Yamashiro High School, and therefore the band in UK was called “Kyoto Girls’ High School Band”.
Harrogate, North Yorkshire is a beautiful city with historical landscape and views. It’s famous for good tea. The Old Swan Hotel, where Agatha Christie kept herself hidden for 11 days in her disappearance incident in December 1926, is also there.
See also this article on the band trip to UK.
History of Uniforms (from what professor Hiramatsu recalls):
Mazarine-colored uniforms at first. From 1966, white blouse and sash + mazarine skirt in summer, and green coverall and cream-colored skirt in winter (photos of the members wearing berets and shorts were the ones taken around 1970). In 1973, red coverall and white skirt. The color of coverall was changed to mazarine in 1977. And in 1981, they started to wear the present orange uniform. It’s not clear when the blue-gold uniform and happi first appeared. The happi, however, was made not for the Hawai’i tour, but for the Midōsuji parade in Osaka (held from 1973 to 2007) (see also Events in History, 2007).
The Orange Uniform:
In 1981, Ms. Yamashita, an alumna of the club and then a junior college student majoring in clothing, designed the uniform and offered it to professor Hiramatsu. They took it to a manufacturer and had them made it. The members were wearing this uniform when they made their first appearance in a national marching contest (unfortunately its year and details are unclear). Because of this, the orange uniform became a symbol of luck and they came to keep wearing it ever after.
Maui and Kaua’i Visit:
From the experience of the UK trip, professor Hiramatsu found a significant meaning in performing abroad and interacting with the local people. He sought the cooperation of a high school teacher in the Hawai’ian island Maui he had gotten to know through the exchange of wind music, and the band tour to Maui was put into practice in 1981. They interacted with the local high school students and citizens through the performances. From then on, the once-in-three-year trip to Maui became a tradition of the band, which made a club custom that every member has an opportunity to go on an overseas playing trip and stay with their host family while in high school. Sadly, the teacher in Maui passed away, and so they changed the place to Kaua’i in 1998 to keep this tradition. The students cover their travel expenses by themselves.
Ms. Hayami (Akemi Hayami, Assistant Band Director): In Kyoto Tachibana Senior High School, all the second year students are to go on a school trip in March by choosing the destination of either Hawai’i or Okinawa. In addition to this cost burden, since the band took part in the Rose Parade in January 2018, it hasn’t been decided at all now whether we are able to go to Kaua’i in 2019. To be honest, we can’t afford to think about it now because our schedule is full of events to come up this year only.
Tour to 1996 Atlanta Olympics:
During the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 (July 19 – August 4), the club was invited by the City of Atlanta, Georgia, USA for a playing tour. They performed for the Olympic related parades and ceremonies in the city and received great applause. They, however, didn’t participate in the opening and closing ceremonies. Also, one accident happened during a parade. They were wearing the orange uniforms then, but it was way hotter than expected there and a number of students collapsed due to heatstroke. A local doctor told them off saying “It’s absolutely unthinkable to make the students parade in such clothing (the orange uniform is thick and tight enough for the wearer to feel hot) in this mid summer.” After that, they made it a rule to wear T-shirts in summer.
Professor Hiramatsu: The cheers were so great that we wondered if we were really such good players. We woke up after returning to Japan.
(regarding the band tour to Atlanta see also this article)
In order to compete with Tokyo where military-style marching bands were in the mainstream, professor Hiramatsu tried to express femininity and traditional Kyoto touch in marching, and put a lot of thought into it from early on, such as playing the koto, Japanese harp, during the stage performance. One that came as a characteristic was the dance-like choreography, which was put into practice in as early as 1980s.
Education in the Wind Music Club:
Professor Hiramatsu: As Japan’s marching began with the military style in terms of forms, music, uniforms and the methods of instruction, when it was taken up in school education before the War, hazing, physical punishment, and bullying were rampant. Though the atmosphere changed after the War, it was not until 1970s that girls actively engaged in marching. Female marching started with such schools as Kyoto Tachibana High School, got over the tradition of military-style marching, and it is finally beginning to be acknowledged by society, which makes him full of emotion. What’s more, he is glad and grateful to hear this time that people around the world enjoy the Band.