Inspiring Story of Determination
Kyoto Tachibana High School has the most active choreography of all Japanese
bands, and it is unlikely that among Japanese band students there are any who are
unfamiliar with the band name “Tachibana”.
Of course, they have the experience of winning many contests, and recently the
band has been the subject of television animation, as well as frequent appearances
on numerous television programs.
“Sing Sing Sing” might be considered their theme song, and when they dance with
bright smiles they seem like angels, with extremely active moves that are above
imagination, there is an image gap that has earned them the nickname of “Orange
Devils”, not angels.
This year is their second Rose Parade appearance, and with 200 band members it is
the largest Japanese band to march in the parade. To prepare for this event, they
have stacked practice on top of practice, with many of the band members dreaming
from their middle school years of joining the Tachibana band. Consider the case of
one high school senior girl in the band, born missing part of one leg but not
wanting to be treated differently from the others, who has put in extreme effort to
deliver perfect performances in spite of her artificial leg. We hope you will cheer
for her as she continues meeting the challenge of being a member of the most
extreme movement, active marching band in Japan, all with an artificial leg, but
don’t be surprised if it’s difficult picking her out of the group.
It has been determined that during one minute of a performance of it signature
piece, Sing Sing Sing, the Kyoto Tachibana High School Green Band does as
many as 244 dance steps, compared with between 140 and 160 steps for an
ordinary marching band. The more steps, the more time the dancer is in the air, and
the greater load is put on the feet when landing.
The name of the high school senior who performs this hard routine with a
prosthetic leg is Hitomi Kanamaru.
Ms. Kanamaru, who wore a plaster cast through her juvenile years due to her
missing left leg below the knee, is a very hard-working individual who has
persevered to overcome in spite of her handicap. When she was a second-year
middle school student, her student flute-player mentor was accepted in Kyoto
Tachibana and joined the band. This led to her introduction to marching, and it had
a strong impact on her. “I wanted to share this impressive marching experience”,
she thought to herself.
Hitomi’s parents were anxious to energetically support her new passion for
marching, and willingly accepted her desire to enter Kyoto Tachibana and join the
band. They joined the band boosters after she was accepted into the band, and
have continued to provide multi-faceted support.
After completion of an intensive training period, and around the time when her
fellow band members were beginning to look past her handicap, around May of her
sophomore year she began having leg pain. Even students without her physical
limitations could expect to have muscle and ligament pain following the intense
training regimen these students endure as they go through marching band “boot
camp”, so it shouldn’t be a surprise for someone with a prosthetic limb to have a
In order to better endure the practices, Hitomi decided to receive surgery on the leg
bone where her prosthetic leg connects. It was necessary for her to go through
extensive rehabilitation following the surgery, which forced her to miss that year’s
marching contest. This trial inspired her with a firm determination that she would
be fully ready to compete the following year. The band friends who surrounded her
provided constant encouragement, inspiring her by their expectations for her to
excel in the physically and mentally demanding practices without focusing on her
handicap, and treating her as an equal in every way. By the time she reached her
senior year, her passion for perfection has helped her reach the level of
performance where observers would never know she accomplished the feat with a
Her fellow marching band members, teacher advisers, and marching coach have
been greatly affected by her example. Marching coach Mr. Hirofumi Yokoyama,
who treats her no differently from the rest of the students, says of Hitomi, “Her
perseverance is infectious. Kurara (Hitomi’s nickname) doesn’t complain, and
says there is no reason to complain”, and the entire band achieves a sense of unity
through her positive attitude. When Mr. Yokoyama watches Hitomi, he feels
discouragement fade, and gets an increased sense of his own ability to persevere.
Furthermore, through Ms. Kanamaru, the entire band shares the strength to
continue performing many difficult marching steps, with no spared effort.
In this way, the Kyoto Tachibana marching band will put on a show like no other
in this year’s Rose Parade.