Tachibana Interview Part 5: Closing Remarks

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.

Separate article on Tachibana written by Rei’ichirō Fukuno has been published in July issue of GENROQ-magazine on May 26, 2018 (see more here and here).


Interview in progress at Kyoto Tachibana (photo by Masayuki Arakawa (GENROQ))

The Number of Events a Year:

Click picture to watch video

20 to 30 big events during a year. Only the ones that are open to the public, like a performance in the open air, are uploaded to YouTube, and there are many more performances given in other occasions. This year, they perform almost every Sunday at, for example, a festival invited by a musical instrument store (ROHM Music Festival), the opening ceremony for an international conference for doctors, nursery schools and elementary schools in the neighborhood, local music festivals, and so on. They can get used to performing, but they have less time to practice. Accompanying teachers also have to take turns taking Sunday off.

(see the band at ROHM Music Festival in the above video by st.taketo)

About Letters to Members etc.:

They never accept letters to students, presents, flowers, and so on. Even if those things are mailed to school, they can’t pass them on to the students.

About the Sale of T-shirts, Jackets, Flags etc.:

Click picture to watch video

They don’t do that. The small flags seen at the Blumen Hügel Farm were made by a fan.

(see the small flags of the audience at the stage show in Blumen Hügel Farm in the lower right corner in the video by yasuky mark3 above – if you want to make your own flag see the instructions here, in Japanese)

The Wind Music Club is an extracurricular activity of the school. The primary job for Mr. Kaneshiro (Band Director Yutaka Kaneshiro) and Ms. Hayami (Band Assistant Director Akemi Hayami), both in charge of the club, is to teach school subjects and also act as a homeroom teacher. They are instructing and leading the club members sacrificing their holidays. Mr. Yokoyama (Band Coach Hirofumi Yokoyama) can’t come to school every day because he has to rush about all over the country to instruct marching. The school clerks are busy with general affairs for all the school events of the Junior and Senior High School. Moreover, the school has recently been receiving numerous telephone inquiries for the club about event participation from anywhere in and out of Japan, and also there are such thoughtless phone calls as asking “How do you practice that?” from persons involved in marching at overseas school bands. They are simply overloaded. Because of that, the reality is that they can’t afford to make a club website or use social network services or the like to offer information.

About Instruction Policy:

Composition Designs (photo by Masayuki Arakawa (GENROQ))

Mr. Yokoyama: I am freelance, so I can’t come to instruct every day. As a result, voluntary practice is the basis in Kyoto Tachibana. Basically, students teach students at daily practice, be it musical performance, dance, or marching. Many wind music clubs ask outside experts to make composition designs for a fee, but in Tachibana it’s a tradition that they make them by themselves. Since they are deeply involved in the making of performance, they know the important points of practice, can give a right guidance to each other, and can modify or change the composition by themselves. Even when I am not there, they can go on their practice on their own. To be more specific, juniors and seniors teach freshmen, but since they were in the position of being taught only a year ago, they know quite clearly where is difficult, how it is difficult, what the problem is and how you can get over it. As they are fellow kids, they can sympathize with the freshmen. They can teach them really considerately. Another merit is that by teaching others, you can improve your skills as well. When they start to teach the freshmen, juniors and seniors not only improve their performance and dance skills, but also mature rapidly. I can notice that by watching them. We instructors watch over the whole band, and give them guidance when we find something to be improved or important points in our professional experience, but never say “Do this,” and “Do that.” This is because commands and orders alone never ever build a real, tight teamwork. Also, by all means, I myself always want to hear from the students what they are thinking like “I want to do this”, “I want to do that” too. Listening to their opinions broadens my horizons, too. We choose songs, and make choreography by exchanging hopes and opinions to each other: “I want to do this.” “We want to do this kind of things!”

Students Choose Students:

Click picture to watch video

Mr. Yokoyama: The yearly Marching Contest has a limit to the number of participants, so we need a selection. In Tachibana, the kids do the selection all by themselves. “The members who practice hard” are to be selected, rather than their grades or skills. This is because unserious members, however skillful they may be, will work against the band, and if you practice hard, you will surely be a good player. But we, the teachers, don’t necessarily grasp the real scenes of their practice, and how they really feel, so we can’t choose anyone. The Section Leaders carefully watch the members who practice really hard and come to recommend such members to us. The grades have nothing to do with the selection. Every year junior-dominating-senior kind of cases can happen, as in the case where a freshman is selected and the senior who taught her until yesterday is eliminated. For the solo performances as well, the kids in each section hold an audition and decide who to play. All I do is instruct the kids chosen by the students. They, of course, select Drum Majors by themselves.

(see collection of Tachibana solo performances in 1996-2006 in the video by ArromanchesYK above)

Dancing with Competition:

Click picture to watch video

Mr. Yokoyama: We want Gold in the All-Japan Marching Contest. The students also make superhuman efforts for it 7 days a week, 360 days a year. You may not know correctly, but playing the instrument while dancing is extremely difficult. If you play an instrument, I want you to try it. Yes, extremely difficult. Technically, there are knacks and points, to be sure, but once you go beyond them, it isn’t a matter of theories any more. The belief and power that “I will surely be able to do that because senpais can do it properly,” “No matter what, I have to carry it through,” have made the impossible possible year in and year out. If senpais flew with their wings spreading before their eyes, the freshmen would surely fly in the air acquiring their own wings after six months. But even if you did that much… as long as the main rating factors for the contest are musical performance and marching, your points will be deducted if you will dance there and that affects your musical performance even slightly. They know about it more than anyone. But we don’t want Gold by forcing ourselves to do the same things as others. The students and I never want to throw away our identity that expresses “This is what Tachibana is about.” I think the Wind Music Club of Tachibana is a pioneer of youthful, cheerful, and peaceful marching. I ever have some difficulty and the students are tough to treat, but it’s really worth challenging.

(see band Gold winning performance at the Finals of the 22nd All Japan Marching Contest in 2009 in the above video by Trumpet20121)

About Wind Music Band at Japan:

John William Fenton

In the beginning, Japan’s wind music started with the Satsuma military band (薩摩藩軍楽隊) under the guidance of John William Fenton (1828-90) of the British Army 10th Foot Regimental Band who came to Yokohama in the early Meiji Period after Japan opened the country to the world, and also with the Imperial Japanese Army Band (帝国陸軍軍楽隊) under the guidance of Gustave Charles Désiré Dagron (1845 – 1898) of the French Army. Military-style marching bands spread and developed mainly around Tokyo. That trend led to marching education at schools. After the Second World War, members of the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps that was stationing at the US Naval Base in Yokosuka taught American-style marching to the local schools, and in the meantime, “Japan Parade Band Association” (the predecessor of “Japan Marching Band Association (JMBA)) was established mainly by the members of Kanto Gakuin. As you can see, the marching sphere in Japan is divided into two groups: the “Tokyo-centered faction” that has inherited the tradition of military-style marching since the Meiji Period, and “the other faction” that was born after the Second World War. There are few personal exchanges between them. Kyoto Tachibana Senior High School Band is in the latter group. Due to the fact that the major media in Japan, as newspapers, magazines, and TV, are centering on Tokyo, if something or someone is little-known in Tokyo, they can’t receive national coverage, and as a result they will be virtually unknown in Japan. This is the reason why Kyoto Tachibana Senior High School Band is generally not well-known except in Kinki (=Kansai) Region. Incidentally, no major TV network stations, national newspapers, or magazines have reported on Kyoto Tachibana’s participation in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Tachibana’s Way:

Professor Hisashi Hiramatsu (photo by Masayuki Arakawa (GENROQ))

Mr. Hiramatsu (Founding Director Hisashi Hiramatsu): Marching in Tokyo is a high-toned military style. Naturally, there’s no smile. They don’t smile. But we are in Kansai. We are a girl-centered band. That’s why we want to march in a cute and merry way. We have been doing with this policy since we established the band in 1961. I have asked the incoming teachers to do so. I have always been thinking that one day, the world of marching should break away from the military style. The “unified beauty” is important, to be sure, but if it is the marching that expresses the “strength” of a nation, organization, thought, and education, I should say it is sad. I have always wished that marching should be the one that would give adults a dream in the youthfulness, and that would comfort you and make your life happy.

Interviewer’s Memo:

Kyoto Tachibana “sei-eis” in Rose Parade, Pasadena, California, US in 2018

The seventeen-year-old Drum Major answered my question matter-of-factly, “The daily morning practice is from 7am to 8:30am. The after-school practice is from 4pm to 7pm. The Saturday practice is from 1pm to 7pm. We practice from 9am to 7pm on Sundays. And we have three-day summer vacation!” It’s obvious to everyone that they just have to put in the single-minded effort to practice in order to acquire that surprising performance in only three years in high school. And unbelievably, it is an act that asks nothing in return. No pay. No personal glory that shines on them. No support from the state and the public administration. Their selfless efforts are devoted to the highest-dimensional humanity that far surpasses the races, languages, thoughts, and borders. That’s why even emotionally mature adults are deeply moved to see their dedicated figures. The 1,000-day effort of sweat and tears that expects nothing in return – We Japanese call such people who have finally attained it “sei-ei” (精鋭) with esteem and respect. About 100 “sei-eis”, when their strength gathers, a little miracle occurs in this world. If my dream were to come true, I would like them to travel around the world and show their performances. At that moment, the world would be a little peaceful. Glory to Kyoto Tachibana Wind Music Club. You are marvelous.

Jump to: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5

25 thoughts on “Tachibana Interview Part 5: Closing Remarks

  1. Will it be permitted to record and post the recording (YouTube) of the retirement ceremonies in December for this class as has been done in the past (see 2017 ceremony https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwiDhU6m278&list=PL_0zU-geEDZCtKXKw1sBAYsxTa3Uss-T0&index=52&t=0s)?

    I know it is a very emotional time for all but I found it showed the tremendous respect for not only the retiring Seniors but for the instructors, staff as well as the “Tachibana Tension” spirit of the next year’s band.

    Thanks for all the amazing performances. I have spent countless hours watching all the videos I can find about Tachibana SHS Band.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I included the wrong video in the above post and noticed that the retirement ceremonies are in January of the upcoming year. If someone has a post of the retirement ceremony, please post it below.

      Sorry for the mistake.


      • The retirement ceremony I am talking about is actually the December Lobby Concert where the retiring Seniors receive gifts and group pictures are taken, while next year’s band plays off to one side.. Here is a video link of one of the past – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1t1LhY08ko

        I hope this recognition can be recorded and posted for everyone to see!


        • Jim T

          Over the past years I also have enjoyed the numerous video’s of the last performance of the wind club and the departing 3rd year seniors in the lobby of the School Festival Hall… as the remaining two class’s play those songs we’ll never forget. However for the past 2 if not 3 years, that send off while it’s been recorded, was not offered for public release, but for the seniors graduation DVD that all graduating students get at the end of the school year in March. I know there has been mention that next months presentation might be released, and while would be a welcome change, don’t hold your breath, things can and do change in a heartbeat.


          • Thanks for your reply. Fingers crossed that the send-off for the Seniors will be allowed to be posted.

            I am a little bit late arriving as a fan of Tachibana’s fabulous musicians and, as many times as I have watched and re-watched many of their performances, still can not believe not only their ability to play music at a high level, but to expertly choreograph not only their competitions but their stage performances – even the ‘sit-down’ concerts are loaded with surprises. Simply AMAZING!!!

            i was looking forward to seeing their entire 116th Grade ’19 Tachibana Festival (outdoor performance) but so far have only been able to find the following recording and another short one.

            Do you or others know if their is a longer version of this performance? Others I’ve seen run from between 10 – 15 minutes.

            I would like to also express my sincere thanks to all of the Tachibana parents, supporters and fans who have taken the time to record and post the Band’s events. I can’t even begin to describe how much it means to the legion of Orange Devil followers who can’t experience their performances in person.

            The entire Tachibana SHS community should feel extremely proud of these young ladies and gentlemen.

            THANK YOU ALL

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Having seen your web pages, which were very interesting, I can say that the whole setup is very impressive. One question I have, who maintains the instruments?. Having carried out this work in the UK I know its a lot of work. Maybe the students own their instruments and are therefore self maintained. Finally well done to all concerned and who knows one day I may pay a visit to witness this wonderful band. Kind regards, Peter Border.


    • Berkshirelad
      Peter, Great question, and the simple answer is that the students have the responsibility to care and maintain the instruments they play, whether they are student owned or loaned by the school & wind club, for the students use. Believe me, it is an honor and an experience you’ll never forget, to witness in person the power of this group. I hope you have the opportunity in the future..


      • Thanks for your reply Paul. The hard work put in by students and staff alike is well worth it as these young people leave for the adult world. To this day even after retirement I meet many ex Cadets w3ho remember with affection their teenage years. Kind regards, Peter.


  3. KT Band schedule for November and December from school site:

    November 3 Date Fushimi Castle Festival Fushimi Castle around
    November 9, earth Kyoto High School Cultural Festival Band department Kyoto Concert Hall
    November 10, Date Gracia festival parade Nagaokakyo
    November 16, soil Kinki High School Cultural Festival Rohm Theater Kyoto
    November 23, soil Osaka Castle marching Osaka Castle Hall around
    December 23, a month 56th regular concert Rohm Theater Kyoto

    56th regular concert of guidance
    Date: December 23 (Monday) raising of the curtain time: Part 1: 14:30 to 2 parts: from 19:00 to location: Rohm Theater Kyoto admission ticket: A seat 1,000 yen B seat 700 circle November 17 (Sunday) from 10:00 to released from ticket Pia


  4. Any information as to the class grades of these students? Also, any information as to their accomplishments after high school? As much as they practice, they must be really dedicated and have a unique ability to schedule their time.


    • Terry, Bob and Yukio,
      Each of your questions and be grouped into one answer, and I apologize that no one has stepped forward to answer.
      Terry, I’m not sure what your question is regarding “class grades”? Are you asking for their grades, as we would ask, what did you get in math, and A or a B? OR what grade they are in?
      Tachibana is a 3 year private high school. The new 1st year students are referred to as Freshmen, 2nd year students are Juniors, and of course 3rd year students are Seniors. You’ll also see the reference used….1st or 3rd grader. I prefer the “year” rather than the ‘grade”. There are NO music classes in the school, the wind club is just that…a club. Its an extra curricular activity with no credit or grades given. So all practices are before or after school and on weekends. Starting as early as 7am, and ending about 7pm….every day, holidays and weekends included.
      Regarding your question about what happens after high school. We don’t know, and really it’s not our business.
      Our motto is; Admire from afar. We never, ever, use their real names, or even their ‘nick name’ here on the blog. It’s a request from the school and the guardians….(parents)

      Bob, while there are no specific qualifications, members of the wind club have to apply via any number of interviews and possibly ‘sight readings’ to be chosen for the club. One would think with the popularity of this group, that there probably is a wait list of students to apply. Most students that play instruments in Japan are A.) girls, as the boys usually go for sports. B.) they start in the 1st grade, where sometimes the instrument is bigger that the child. As they progress thru elementary and Jr. High school they become excellent musicians, most can play two instruments and some know music theory, so the term ‘novice’ just doesn’t apply.

      To get more information on the inner workings of the wind club, and how things happen, and who’s in charge, refer to the top title bar labeled “Interviews”….most of your question can be answered there.
      Sorry this was so long…..


  5. Hello everyone. I am Rei-ichiro Fukuno. Thank you for having read my interview of the Kyoto Tachibana Wind music club. I am very happy to have read your impressions of the article. I also wish to thank Nishi-san for having worked so hard to arrange the interview and Hatano-san for his helpful interpretation. My special thanks go to orangedevilsfan-san for having edited the original article to three times its original quality.

    However, I must say I suspect that the 3-hour interview failed to consider a possible existence of a genius-level choreographer. It is my intention to maintain contact with my new friends at Tachibana High School and when such time we can meet I will back on line.

    When our interview was over and as we were leaving the room a color guard in full uniform bowed and excused herself quite smartly with a twinkle in her eyes. The teachers and staff of Tachibana High School are quite puritanical and wonderful folks and the students angelic and while the school is non religious its atmosphere is almost like that of a monastery.
    I’m looking forward to seeing your blog.Thank you.

    Liked by 11 people

    • We are all thankful to you Fukuno-san for the large amount of new information you gathered during your interview. Your articles are groundbreaking work in the world of Japanese high school brass band scene and I’m honored to have been able to publish them.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Fukuno-san

      Yoroshiku onegaishimasu

      Thank you very much for your excellent interview. with her we were closer to our beloved band.
      please continue to give us more information about the band through your contacts.

      we are in need of an interview with Tanaka-sensei, we will be delighted with his words about Tachibana.

      Domo arigato gozaimasu
      Yoroshiku onegaishimasu

      Paulo Tadeu Tashima

      Liked by 2 people

    • Mr Fukuno, I just would like to express my deepest appreciation for this piece of yours and orangedevilsfan’s help to get it all published here. It’s simply stunning and revealing in what hard work and solid support system stands behind these performances. Kind of hard to imagine, actually as a parent that any adolescent would be willing to sacrifice so much to be part of this. Wow, that’s all I have, respect!


  6. What a great interview! Thanks for sharing the article. We now know how hard these students work to achieve the level of performance we see in Tachibana videos. And knowing it comes mostly from the students themselves, is amazing. They are not only talented musicians, they posses self taught leadership skills that will serve them well later in life.The work ethic that we’ve learned from the interviews is amazing, unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for this wonderful post. Many thanks to the ones who initiated this interview. Now that I’ve got to know their true stories and backgrounds, I love KT even more. Many school bands have full time teacher/coach to grind the students to win Golds. When I got to know that KT works differently by students train students and students choose students basis through this post, my heart sank. These amazing kids fight to win Gold in Nationals but not to lose their identities. But trust me, even without the state, media or whatsoever that shines or supports them, KT already won over many hearts from many other countries. I pray that these selfless children spread their wings even further and soar up higher than anyone does. Tachibana tension! All the way from Singapore!

    Liked by 6 people

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