Tomoko’s college life is deeply entrenched in time. The university itself, the cultural center, and the friends that Tomoko made all have passed the test of time.
The Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music was founded in 1887 as two separate schools: fine arts and music. The two schools were united in 1949. The university started admitting women in 1946, and Tomoko graduated from the university in 1961 with a BA with highest honors. Tomoko chose this university because it provided the best degree program in music. “Always strive for the best,” asserts Tomoko. Especially since her parents thought that whatever one pursued, it should be done well. The rigorous admissions audition process took a grueling four days, and invoolved performances, music dictation, academic exams, and an interview. The university had 500 applicants, and accepted only eighteen students; Tomoko was one of the worthy eighteen admitted.
At the university, Tomoko made several lifelong friends. In the morning they would take classes, and in the afternoon they would practice. At night they would study for the next day. They shared a common goal: high-quality musical knowledge and skill. Discipline was their key driver. They continually reflected on their work, and gave each other feedback, which strengthened both their performance and friendship over time.
Behind the university was a cultural center. One of the buildings was the Tokyo Cathedral, which was Dominican: the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception (Sekiguchi Church). Fr. Henri taught traditional Gregorian chant. Tomoko and other students would go to the church to hear and learn this millenium-old music genre. Tomoko played for the church. Close to the time that she graduated, Tomoko became a Catholic, formally joining a religious tradition of over two thousand years.
Tomoko’s university’s legacy lives on in her, and she continues that tradition with her students. Like classic music, Tomoko’s experiences are grounded in time and live on.