Nobuyuki Tsujii and the"Hayashi rice"

Pianist Tsujii Nobuyuki
The power of his fingers comes from the encouragement of his mother's "Hayashi rice"

The article below appears in the Japanese publication yomiDr. トップページへ, dated March 7, 2011. The photos are from a 2010 Japan TV show. The Japanese text of the original article is shown at the bottom of this page.

Prologue: During the 2009 Cliburn Competition, the following paragraph, written by Barry Shlachter, appeared on May 30 in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (  It was written  about Nobuyuki Tsuji's semi-final performance with the Takacs Quartet --
... What also might set Tsujii apart is what he requested for breakfast Friday, nothing typically American, Texan or, for that matter, Japanese. He chowed down on his version of comfort food – beef curry and rice prepared by his mother.
The dish referred to by Shlachter is apparently the Hayashi Rice, which is NOT beef curry.
(Hashed beef rice or Hayashi rice (ハヤシライス) is a dish popular in Japan as a Western-style dish. It usually contains beef, onions, and button mushrooms, in a thick demi-glace sauce which often contains red wine and tomato sauce. -- wikipedia)

the fifth grade, Noubyuki participated in the largest national piano competition and advanced to the final round.  The night before the final performance, what he ate at home was the dish Hayashi rice.

In the practice session on the previous day, the piano teacher was strict and the tough repertoire was challenging.  On the way home, Nobuyuki was depressed and disappointed.  Upon returning home, he was served heaping plates of Hayashi rice by his mother.  His stomach full, Nobuyuki
was able to give a strong push at the final practice. "I will play my best at the competition," the young pianist resolved.

On the morning of the competition, Nobuyuki ate two more helpings of the dish for breakfast.  They tasted even more delicious after being left overnight. Then, he won the competition, and said "Thanks, Hayashi rice. I can't play well when hungry..."

Since then, Hayashi rice has been served to Nobuyuki the night before and on the morning of every big performance in Japan, for good luck.   It  worked.  This dish helped Nobuyuki to succeed in making his debut recital at Suntory Hall in Tokyo at age 12, then performing Chopin and Mozart concertos at a concert at age 14.

"My mother is good at cooking; her Hayashi rice is special and gives me power", said Nobuyuki.

Noubyuki Tsujii was born blind, but his extraordinary music talent was soon noticed by his mother.    At age two, he skillfully accompanied his mother's singing on a toy piano.  Slowly, the remarkable talent blossomed.

At the age of 20, Nobuyuki won a gold medal at
the "Van Cliburn International Piano Competition" held in the United States.  The first (native) Japanese to win that prestigious prize, Nobuyuki has since joined the ranks of the world's top pianists.

During the competition,  Nobuyuki's mother made Hayashi rice on the eve of the elimination round. However, there was no ingredient for the demi-glace sauce, and fresh and strong substitute ingredients were used.   "It was an unusual taste," recalled Nobuyuki.   But the outcome of the competition was successful just the same.

In addition to performing as a concert pianist, Nobuyuki Tsujii is a serious composer.  "I love to make music about my impression of whispering rivers, mountains and the wind that I experience while on hiking trips."

These days,  his mother no longer accompanies Nobuyuki when he tours abroad, and so there is less opportunity for the pianist to eat Hayashi rice for good luck.  "Growing up, you want to learn more and more, and to impress the audience as a pianist playing alone," said Nobuyuki.  Having proven his ability to perform on the piano as an independent adult, Nobuyuki will nevertheless always have fond memories of the Hayashi rice.

(<the original Japanese article was written by>
Ueda Noriko <according to google translation>)

Pianist Nobuyuki  Tsujii. Born in 1988. Professional debut at age 10. In 2009, won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. In February, a CD "Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1" (Yutaka Sado conductor) was  released. In June, he will perform with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra.

The text of the  original Japanese article is shown below --  my thanks to a Japanese Nobu fan for pointing me to it:
Source:  March 7, 2011
ピアニスト 辻井伸行さん

「ハヤシライス」 母の激励 指に「力」宿る







  このコンクールでも、本番前の食事を滞在先で母親が作ってくれた。1次予選の前夜は、やはりハヤシライス。ところが、いつものデミグラスソースがなく、他 のソースで代用したため、塩気が強く、「いつもと違う味でした」。それでも母親の思いを力に決勝へ進み、優勝を果たせた。


  国内外のツアーで慌ただしい日々が続いているが、以前のように母親が同行する機会は減った。縁起を担いでハヤシライスを食べる機会も少なくなった。「もっ と勉強し、成長して、一人のピアニストとして聴衆を感動させる演奏をしたい」。実力を付け、大人のピアニストとして自立した今、ハヤシライスの思い出が自 身を奮い立たせる。(上田詔子)

つじい・のぶゆき ピアニスト。1988年生まれ。10歳でプロデビュー。2009年、バン・クライバーン国際ピアノコンクールで優勝。2月にCD「チャイコフスキー ピアノ協奏曲第1番」(指揮・佐渡裕)を発売。6月には読売日本交響楽団と共演する。

(2011年3月7日 読売新聞)

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