Chronicle: Kazufumi Yamashita – Composer born in Hiroshima, Part 1

Kazufumi Yamashita, conductor living in Tokyo

On January 7 of this year, I conducted the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra, my hometown orchestra, at the 2023 Momiji New Year Concert. Each time I conduct my hometown orchestra, I am overcome with special feelings. This time was even more special for me as the concert was organized by Momiji Bank (the former Hiroshima Mutual Bank) where my father used to work.

Before the concert began, I went out to the lobby to hand out concert tickets to my relatives who came to see the concert. Then, I was approached by an elderly lady, “Are you Mr. Yamashita?” As I tried not to draw attention to myself by wearing a mask, I was unexpectedly surprised by her words. But what the lady said next surprised me even further. “You walk just like your father did.” The lady had worked at Momiji Bank at the same time as my father! It is already 13 years since my father passed away and more than 30 years since he retired. My soul was shaken by the fact that there was a person who remembers my father.

I turned 60 two years ago, and am approaching the age when my father retired. I left my hometown of Hiroshima alone when I was 14 years old, and from that time onward I never lived with my father under the same roof. So, this lady’s comment that the way I walk resembled how my father walked made me happy but at the same time somewhat embarrassed. This encounter suddenly took me back to my early youth in Hiroshima.

I received a request for this chronicle when I was interviewed by the Chugoku Shimbun in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra being reorganized as a professional orchestra in 2022. If I had not been the child of my father and mother and if I had not spent 14 years of my youth in Hiroshima, I do not think I would have ever been a conductor.

(Originally published on May 4, 2023)