Kushibuchi-san is cellist and one of the original members of Toranomon Symphony Orchestra.

When he started to play at Torakyo, he was still a young bachelor and working at Tokyo Gas Co.. What made him different from other members of Torakyo was his marriage. He got married with a daughter of the principal of a kindergarten in Numata, a city in Gumma Prefecture and not far from the snow rich Niigata Prefecture. From a "salary man" he suddenly became vice-principal and a resident more than two hours distant from Tokyo by train.

However, Kushibuchi-sensei (teacher Kushibuchi) didn't give up music. On the contrary, it was his condition to continue music after marriage. Ever since, he commutes once in a week either by train or by car to Tokyo to play music and drink with orchestra friends. He has been doing so already 30 years.

Kushibuchi-san's acquaintance with late Prof. Kofune Kojiro, the first permanent conductor of Torakyo, brought a precious property to his Kindergarten. Prof. Kofune composed the school song for Chigusa Kindergarten on the occasion of its 15th anniversary. It was 20 years ago when Kushibuchi-san organized a Torakyo concert in Numata, for the first public performance of the school song and the 15th anniversary of Chigusa Kindergarten.

Chigusa Kindergarten is an extremely well conceived, constructed and organized kindergarten. Even in Tokyo and its suburbs, I personally have never seen better kindergartens.

The facility is really super. With a little tower topped by a mushroom roof, the kindergarten is called "castle kindergarten" by neighbors. Inside the building, numerous ideas are adopted, such as hiding corners (each class room has small niche where children feel comfortable.), a spiral staircase with stained glass windows (children can feel as if they are in the world of fairly tales.) and stairs equipped with slides (children can slide down from second to first floor.), if I name only a few examples. The richness of music instruments is beyond my expectation, fancy computers are waiting for children, and many tiny animals such as hairs and hamsters are kept in classrooms as well as in special buildings.

No wonder that more than 300 including handicapped children are here, while ordinary kindergartens are complaining about the decrease of the number of children.

What impressed me was not limited to the facilities and equipment. The classrooms were so neatly kept and decorated with the works of children by their teachers.
Chigusa Kindergarten seen from the corner of its ground
Chigusa Kindergarten

Kushibuchi-sensei explained to us that the the objective of Chigusa Kindergarten is to bring up:
  1. children who are eager to do something
  2. children who are gentle to others
  3. children who have great sensibility
These mottoes do not appear to remain as mere words but to be practiced.

Later at a reception after the concert Kushibuchi-sensei gathered all young teachers for snap shots (see below !). All bachelor members of Torakyo were asked to stand in front and make short self-introduction. A cellist said "I am the second son, therefore, can move to anywhere !" and was enthusiastically welcomed :-) If young teachers are interested in one of them, they are to tell Kushibuchi-sensei.
The concert at Numata is held every five years. This year's concert was to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Chigusa Kindergarten and the fifth concert of this kind. Members of the orchestra had to pay about only US 150$, including a round trip by Shinkansen with reserved seat and a first class accommodation with a full course dinner in Minakami, a nearby spa resort of Numata. So much is subsidized by Chigusa Kindergarten! Therefore, why not participate in this occasion :-) As a result approximately 90 members of Torakyo participated. Together with family the total number exceeded 100 !!
It is very natural that we were attracted by this favorable condition for participation. However, we are glad to go to Numata also purely out of our friendship to Kushibuchi-san. The concert is in reality a big event for the kindergarten. It invited parents, neighbors and VIPs of the local board of education as well as municipal governments. Many congratulation telegrams were sent by VIPs such as MPs. So, this was a very prestigious occasion and Kushibuchi-sensei was the hero of the event. He not only made speech as host of the concert, but also attracted the attention of the audience as a solo cellist.
Children singing
Singing children (left) - An illustration from the concert program (right)
The last, but really not the least thing I should mention was our experience to play with children. 118 children from the senior classes joined us and sang the school song and "It's a small world".

Already when the children were waiting behind the stage, we could hear them chatting and felt a sort of irresistible delight. They were guided by teachers and stood on the stage. We were filled with joy and needed no baton of the conductor, no outside guidance to create music with children. The children's voice and their existence itself moved us to play spontaneously. I was nearly moved to tears by their vivid and fresh singing voice. I know that many of the members had similar feeling and our performance was distinctively different from our usual concerts.
On the way back home, a friend happened to recall Yamato-san, our old colleague of the orchestra and the man who discovered Wadaya.

She told me when they went to Numata last time five years ago ... I was not in Japan and could not join the concert ... Yamato-san told her after the performance that he could not help feeling special sentiment when he heard the voice of children. It was an unusual experience to play music together with so many children. He was moved to tears. She told me that she came to feel this sentiment even stronger and more vivid as she had reached certain age. I might be also approaching the same stage ;-(

Anyhow, it was the last experience for Yamato-san. He can not go to Numata with us any more.