Tachibana Live: Attending Kyoto and Kansai Marching Contests

Videos, pictures and text by Frederik (frederik.noermann (at) gmail (dot) com)

As part of his trip to Japan the writer attended the 31st Kyoto Marching Contest on September 9, 2018 as well as 46th Kansai Marching Contest on September 23, 2018.

The 31st Kyoto Prefectural Marching Contest:

Click picture to watch video

Before the start of my journey, I tried to inform myself about the first stage of the Kyoto Marching Contest. As I couldn’t find any information about the contest, except for the information at this unofficial blog, I wrote an email to this blog. Luckily, they helped me with the schedule of the event.
(Editor’s comment: All official information on Kyoto Marching Contest is published at this site)

Since I’m a bit unorganized, I didn’t look for the train connections until I arrived in Osaka. With help of the “JapanOfficialTravelApp“, it was quite easy to find a traveling route to the “Yamashiro General Sport Park Athletic Field” in Kyoto. There were two options. For both options I had to take the train to Uji and then either walk or take a bus. I wanted to take the bus but the signs on the buses were only in Japanese. So I missed the bus and had to walk 2.5 km slightly uphill.
(My advice: Just go to the front door of the bus which is usually closed and ask the driver. If you name your desired destination, he will try to help you.)

¥1000 well spent!

When I arrived at the location of the contest, I saw a long line of people and so I queued up. I was lucky because some Japanese bought their tickets before lining up but you also can buy your ticket inside the building.
(If you are not sure, you can always ask a staff member. Don’t try to ask the guests as most of them can’t speak English.)

Inside the building, there were staff members who would guide you to free seats. Since I arrived only an hour before the event started, the only seats available were opposite the officials.
(So if you want to see the soloists from up front, you have to arrive much earlier, but I think it isn’t necessary.)
My seat was in the front row opposite the officials.

All bands gathered together

During the contest, the bands and their Drum Majors were announced. These announcements were solely in Japanese, so I could only understand the bands’ names and the names of the Drum Majors. The contest was split in two parts, first the middle schools and their award ceremony and then the high schools and their award ceremony.

The contest was really great. It’s a huge difference between watching videos online and seeing this contest live.

Bands outside

After the contest, the bands gathered outside and waited for their team leader to dismiss them. A great opportunity to get group photos of the bands. At that point a young Japanese man talked to me. He asked me if I was there to see the Tachibana band and then told me that he used to be a member of that band. He then showed me a YouTube video featuring him. He was inside a T-Rex costume there, so it was quite funny.
(Editor’s note: He must have been Rose Parade -veteran as the suit was first introduced in Bandfest late December 2017 and the last time graduating 3rd years’ were with the band was in the Return Concert January 2018, see more of these events here)

As you can see, it’s no problem for a foreigner without knowledge of Japanese to visit the Kyoto Marching Contest. Just go there, follow the other visitors’ example and have fun.

The 46th Kansai Marching Contest:

Thankfully the operator of this blog also informed me about the Kansai Marching Contest and also provided me with the schedule.
(Editor’s comment: All official information on Kansai Marching Contest is published at this site)

Tickets from Lawson

When I decided to go there, I looked up how to buy tickets in Japan. Luckily there are some websites and some videos which explain how you buy tickets at a Lawson store. If you have the code for the specific event (which you can look up on the internet), it’s quite easy to buy a ticket. Sadly there were only tickets with free seating, and all seats which were in front of the band were reserved seats. It’s important to mention that there were two different tickets: One for the high school bands and one for the middle school bands.

I arrived at the location of the contest at 9:30 am. You could also buy tickets on the spot. So if you want to try your luck you can buy your tickets there. As I already had my tickets, I queued up and went in. There were still some good seats available.

During the contest, all announcements were purely made in Japanese.

After the high school bands finished their performances, there was a short break and then the award ceremony. Tachibana won Gold, but wasn’t selected for the next round. Then all people had to leave the building and if you also wanted to see the middle school bands you had to line up again and re-enter.
(So if you want a good seat for the next part you should perhaps leave a little bit earlier.)

At the beginning of the middle school part, two students who were responsible for organizational tasks came to me and informed me that it wasn’t allowed to take photos or record the contest. Or rather, they tried to inform me by talking to me in Japanese and pointing at my camera. There were no signs about that but there was an announcement in the beginning which contained the word “camera”. So I assume it was prohibited during the whole contest.
(However, you can order a DVD or Blu-ray from the contest for about ¥8900, but I think it isn’t an option for foreigners.)

Of course there was a separate award ceremony for the middle school bands after they had finished their performances.

Taken all together, it was quite a long event, so I would recommend to bring something to eat and drink. Of course you also can buy food and drinks there, but it’s more expensive.

Tachibana was here!

14 thoughts on “Tachibana Live: Attending Kyoto and Kansai Marching Contests

  1. I don’t think you can lose the guy who has directed the band for so long and not have a drop in quality. In the marching routine itself, I didn’t like the use of “Tachibana Tension!” as I view that as a band-inspiring ‘war cry’ that shouldn’t be used to score points in a competition. The whole routine felt disjointed and contrived. And let the drum major lead her troops! I don’t care if Tachibana wins or loses, so long as they remain true to themselves and give their best effort. ‘Thank you’ to the poster of the article and footage


  2. For the first time, I watched the young band director conduct the beginning of KT’s routine. Later both the young band director and DM were conducting at the same time. That struck me as rather odd. I went back to earlier competitions and only the DM conducted the band during their routines.
    Check out the 2015 competition. That was the last time KT won National Gold or National Silver. Their lines were absolutely straight at all times. In the 2018 competition, KT’s lines were less straight even tho the music was fine. Don’t get me wrong. This is just my observation of their performance. Like everyone else in this blog, I simply love all the performances by KT. Sometimes, I feel as if I’m watching my extended granddaughters and grandsons at their best.


  3. I absolutely love Kyoto Tachibana Band, there are simply amazing. Their performances always entertain the audiences, and to get gold (Which I assume means they were the best) and not get selected makes absolutely no sense. Countries don’t pick their 4th or 5th best athletes to go to the Olympics, they send the best, why wouldn’t that be the same in any competition. I have watched videos of a lot of the other Japanese high school bands at other events like Brass Expo, and not to demean all their hard work, but they just don’t have that WOW factor that makes me want to scour YouTube for more videos of them, it was like I was watching a funeral procession rather than a musical group providing the audience with entertainment. It seems to me the judges are wanting Kyoto Tachibana to conform to the more traditional styles like the other schools, rather than be unique and forward thinking in their amazing performances, which is what all us fans of the band have grown to love and keeps us coming back for more. To all the lovely young ladies and gentlemen of the band I say keep doing what you do, entertaining your audiences with amazing performances, that’s what is important. Rankings in a competition is nothing but a number that will soon be forgotten, but the audiences memories of your outstanding performances will live on forever.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like and love KT-band much but, to be honest, their performance is not superb in terms of marching band competition point of view(rule…). If should you have watch the well known traditional high school’s performance who got 1st prize in All-Japan competition you would easily understand in which point the judges give them the higher score against other team… by sounds(overall quality of playing music with each of instrument), formation work, etc.
      Most of all, as far as I know, there should be also very high proficiency of overall music playing itself.
      Of course KT-band is the most entertaining band even in the world especially for marching parade(street) I think
      but still that’s not (always) enough for the marching band competition itself.
      Also in some sense, ‘Sing Sing Sing’ which is always the main and their final performance of KT-band can be regarded as something trite to judges because it’s been already more than 10years since KT-band introduced the performance to the competitions…
      But it’s true that, as you mentioned, we hope KT-band keep their own style and what they do … it’s great and unique obviously.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In my other comment, I was asking about videos from the preliminary qualification rounds before Kansai for the bands that qualified to National Finals from Kansai. Are those also prohibited?


  5. There are lot of links to videos on this site and it is impossible to confirm what circumstances they are all taken. Therefore I only decline to publish if the video could be harmful to the band members (i.e. taken when not related to their performance, taken from too low angle).


  6. After viewing this performance a number of times, It’s difficult to understand why they were not selected to move on. There is new music, quality musicians, and some new very difficult marching formations I had not seen before. Overall, I believe it was a performance that matches up with previous excellent Tachibana performances. Obviously, the judges know what they’re looking for, but for this year at least, they were not selected to move on. Never the less, I for one am never disappointed in their performances. We all know how hard and long they practice to perfect their music and moves and Love seeing their video’s!
    Like a Good High School Football Team, the players change with graduation, but the good ones just Reload!
    We will never be disappointed in the Kyoto Tachibana Angels of Music!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is the real pity about not being able to get any videos of the Kansai qualification round. We have no idea what the bands that qualified to the National Finals did during their performances. The only comments here from those who attended the event only mentioned what mistakes KT made but nothing about what the bands that qualified did. However, curiojapan seemed to have a pretty good idea of what the outcome what going to be. Maybe he can give an explanation or comparison.

      If anyone is aware of any accessible videos of Yodogawa koka(technical); Takigawa daini(second) or Mino jiyu (Golden Bears) preliminary qualification rounds, please post the links.


    • Again, at the level of performance, Minojiyu, Takigawa Dai 2, Yodogawakouka will not be worse.
      The formation is also so.
      KT was not bad, and other high schools were wonderful.

      I do not know how other countries with lower levels are, but in Japan KT is a lucky year lucky to put the best 20. Normally it is the best 30 to 50 best. Even if it is only dancing, it is not necessary to dance in the brass bandnal originally.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes I agree. whenever I see their performance of Minojiyu or Yodogawa-kouka it makes me WOW in terms of their rich sound and formation work during the performance and so on. It’s true that there is trade-off that as much as KT-band invest their huge effort and time to make perfectly unified dancing work while their movement, the other schools could rather focus on playing the music better and raise their marching formation work proficiency. As long as we love KT-band’s lovely smile and cute dancing while their parade there should be something we to renounce instead…. at least I think so.


  7. Thanks for contributing this article to the blog. I appreciate it very much for the insight and background information about the transportation and the event. Hope you had a good time in Japan and a pleasant trip back.


  8. Very nice. 😊 Tack så mycket Fredrik.
    You probably had a really good day there and I hope to see it myself some day when I go back to Japan.
    It must have been interesting to see all the activity around the contest.


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