Asian Press Kit Bio

Tom Toyama's approach to music comes from his Asian cultural heritage and training in Asian cultural art forms.

Toyama was born in Okinawa, Japan and raised in childhood in Okinawa and later years in Hawaii.

Throughout its history, the Ryukyu Kingdom of Islands (of which Okinawa is a part of) had influences from the cultures of countries that would trade with it. This includes Japan, China, Korea, Malaysia, Phillipines, and other Southeast Asian countries. However, even with the influx of foreign influences, Okinawans still developed languages, music and cultural traditions that are distinctly their own.

From his childhood in Okinawa, Japan, Toyama received kempo martial arts training from his Okinawan father. He later studied and practiced the Chinese martial arts of kung fu and taichi.

His Japanese mother took her son to traditional Okinawan music and dance performances. She taught him Okinawan and Japanese folk songs and exposed him to Okinawan and Japanese cultural music programs on radio and television.

She also brought her son to her flower arranging lessons where he observed her doing ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. He would go to the Okinawa city of Naha with her to select and buy flowers. Upon returning home he would watch how his mother would, with care and focus, trim and place flowers within the space of the display.

From traditional Japanese music performances, he developed an interest in shakuhachi (Japanese vertical bamboo flute) and taiko Japanese drumming. Toyama later studied shakuhachi with Kyoto master Kurahashi Yoshio and taiko with Ishikura Takemasa. Toyama also plays Okinawan taiko.

Today, Toyama's Asian music experiences includes performing on vibraphone, taiko (drum), and shakuhachi with Japanese taiko master Takemasa Ishikura; on vibraphone with koto master Tamiko Asai, and in a live USA to Japan tele-conference on vibraphone with shakuhachi master Seizan Sakata.

Toyama's musical art form continues to be influenced by his Asian cultural heritage.

Asian Press Kit Photos

Asian Tunes Info.

Welcome Jon:
Thanks for taking the time to listen.

Here are the 3 tunes that I would like Pat Metheny to hear for his upcoming Asian themed jazz album.

Please send me a short email with your feedback (positive and negative too.)

Please tell me the type of songs your artists including Pat Metheny are searching for. Next time I want to be better prepared with potential hit singles that are written for your specific artists.

My email address is
Phone: 954-662-6194

Hope you enjoy the tunes.

Thanks again.
Tom Toyama
Water Mountains Music Publishing

Songs will play in the following order automatically.

1. Spiraling Flower by Tom Toyama
Spiraling Flower is about the martial arts spirit, it origination in China, and the Taoist and Buddhist monks that brought martial arts from China to Okinawa in the 7th century.
        features Tom Toyama on shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute)
        marimba, small Chinese percussion, taiko (Japanese drums)
        & vocal sounds

2. Mieko's Dream by Tom Toyama/Juan Zambrano
Mieko's dream is about the immigrant mother's dreams of living a normal life in a new land, raising their family of children and retaining their Japanese identity & cultural heritage and respecting and appreciating the trials and tribulations of their parents and grandparents to make a better life for their children and grandchildren. This is tune is dedicated to my mother Mieko Toyama and her mother Mrs. Mente.
        features Tom Toyama on vibes

3. Okinawa Hula by Tom Toyama
Okinawa Hula is about the migration of Okinawan and Japanese people to Hawaii in the early 1900s. This tune depicts the immigrants' new life in the islands of Hawaii, farming huge sugar cane plantations, hearing the beat of Hawaiian hula, and missing their families back home.

All rights reserved. Copyrights Tom Toyama/Water Mountains Music Publishing

Hiroshima Hula Dance Choreography Suggestions (Do not have to follow.)

Wow!! Thank you so very much to Ms. Tamura, Nihon Buyo sensei!! Grateful that she will choreograph and dance with one of her students "Hiroshima Hula"


I’m estimating because the room holds 280 chairs which are movable. So, it is a large room.

I think about 100 people at most, will attend. 


For Hiroshima Hula dancers: I think we can create about 18 to 20 square feet (maybe more) of dance area. Positioned in the front center, between the table (against the front wall) with the urn/ashes on it, and the rows of seating.


*** The new slower Hiroshima version is 75% of the original 100% tempo (speed). It is 25% slower.

It is now available for free download from my website:

This slower version will give the dancers more time to perform choreograph movements with out having to rush.


Is this the order he would like to have happen in the dance?  I will suggest/describe a story order but can be in any order sensei would like.


Any other elements he would like added? Yes, I have added some below. But don’t have to follow my suggestions or depictions. I also think less and simple is better. Too much could lead to a loss of direction and be less meaningful. The primary theme of Hiroshima Hula is to express the daily life struggles of the issei  Japanese women plantation workers in Hawaii.


Also, I do not want to hinder sensei’s creativity and the traditional art form of Nihon Buyo. My late mom Mieko always held in high respect and admiration all Japanese traditional art forms including dance. During my childhood in Okinawa with visits to Tokyo, she would take me to see Okinawan & Japanese dance performances and she would always be showing me it on TV there too.


Please take the following suggestions that may (or may not) help in the choreography as only as tiny suggestions, that do not have to be followed.


As a musician and composer that has worked with modern Western dancers, the following is just how I relate musical form to scenes of a theatrical dance performance. Dancers do not have to move their bodies to the beat of the song. But sometimes they can. My suggestions here should not hinder the Buyo artististry or creativity. Sensei Tamura, please do as you like.


I created “Hiroshima Hula” is an instrumental “hole hole bushi” dance to pay respect and honor all issei especially the picture bride (shashin kekkon) issei (and their oldest nisei daughters) who struggled thru the hardest and longest endless days to make a better life for their families and because of their contributions a better Hawaii community. In my humble opinion, it was the issei women that worked the hardest and longest, not only working 10 hour days in the sugarcane fields, but also at their plantation home (shacks), raising their families, preparing meals, washing and mending clothes. And to earn extra money, for single men workers, preparing meals, washing and mending their clothes. Non-stop endless working with little sleep was their daily experience. Issei plantation women were the true heroins, who need to be acknowledged and celebrated. My grandmother, was one of these issei picture brides. She like other picture brides were disappointed when they arrived, met their picture husbands who in reality were 10 plus years older than their picture. Then seeing the deplorably poor living conditions of the plantation life. After their 3 year contract ended, a lot of them returned to Japan with their husbands (now with their children). It’s fortunate for many of us nisei, sansei, yonsei, etc., that some stayed and created a better life for their children and the future generations.


Cast:  2 Japanese female dancers in order of appearance: 

1st Dancer: Misato age 24 (my grandmother, the newly arriving picture bride, from Hiroshima. Behaves like a naive optimistic young bride in a new world.) 

2nd dancer: Kiyo (Kiyoko, fictional character, one of the most common female names during the 1900s in Japan. She is a plantation experienced picture bride, behaves like an older sister and becomes a close and helpful friend of Misato)


Hiroshima Hula Suggested Script 



If the Nihon Buyo sensei wants, and if koto player Sandy agrees. 

Koto player will improvise koto sounds during the first 2 minutes of the Hiroshima Hula Buyo dance. Then fade out quickly when the Hiroshima song starts. Hiroshima Hula dance needs Japanese koto sounds to represent newly arriving by ship “picture bride Misato.” Is it ok? The cue to fade out koto will be after the Honolulu port marriage is completed and immediately after Misato bows to husband.


Dancer 1 (Misato): Misato’s Arrival

During the very beginning: Sandy Tsukiyama playing a 2 minute improvised solo koto sounds.

(If not, Tom Toyama will play this koto sound on keyboard):

“Picture bride” Misato sleeping below deck in a cabin with other brides, upon hearing their excited voices, awakens. It’s dawn. She stands, straightens her simple kimono, fixes her hair bun and grabs her traveling wicker case of traditional clothes. Opens the cabin door and smells the fresh sea breeze blowing in. Sea birds fly above her as she walks on the main deck and sees Oahu island in the distance. Birds fly overhead as she holds onto the railing to keep her balance standing as the swaying ship enters Honolulu port. Misato, filled with nervous excitement, looks at the little Honolulu town surrounded by lush green vegetation and mountains. She looks down. In her hand, her future husband’s picture. As the ship docks, her eyes search among the men waiting on the dock. Carefully disembarking, she sees a man approaching and recognizes him as the man in the picture. She is a little surprised because he looks 10+ years older than his picture. She remains optimistic, is relieved and happy to finally meet her husband. (Picture brides had already married their Hawaii husbands thru arranged matchmaker before leaving. But husband and wife must marry again at the port in Hawaii for it to be legal in this new US Territory.) Picture bride Misato stands by the side of her man. Then briefly listens to the pastor who marries them. To conclude the Hawaii marriage, Misato and her husband bow slowly to each other.




This will be the tempo/speed for the performance.


00:00 Recording of Hiroshima Hula Starts immediately after Misato bows to husband

Observing her new island surroundings, she follows him, walking Ewa, toward the slopes of vast sugarcane fields. She looks in amazement at the first sight of the plantation. 


00:23 (Bass instrument Enters) Misato’s eyes/face turns from optimistic smiling wonder to shocking disappointment as she sees the place where she will be living. It’s a wooden shack with leaves covering the roof and inside a dirt floor with only boards to sleep on. Not like the home she was accustomed to in Hiroshima. Her husband leaves and returns to work.


00:55 A section Koto melody: Kiyo: A Japanese woman approaches. She has her baby in ombu (piggybacked) wrapped in a holder around her back. She introduces herself as Kiyo, also a bride from Hiroshima who has been there  a year. The Misato expresses her dismay/disappointment in the poor living conditions (in movements) to Kiyo. This was not what was promised. Kiyo tries to comfort new comer Misato. They sit together. (Thru motion) Kiyo, tells “Misato you know there is severe depression in Japan. Your family in Japan are depending on you to send them money. Work hard, never give up, persevere, save up enough money. When the 3 year contract is finished leave plantation and return home to Japan or leave to Honolulu or mainland to make our and childrens’ lives better. “Gaman,” the Japanese way, “endure or bear.” Gambatte Kudasai!!” She helps Misato clean up and make a home in this poor rural shack and setting so very different and far away from their Hiroshima home. Tired from hours of work, Kiyo feeds her baby then puts her baby to sleep.


01:20 Tired from hours of work, they both lay down to sleep.


01:27 B section: Koto repetitive rhythm: Both Dancers First morning 4:00AM. It’s still dark outside. Kiyo runs in, awakens Misato and shows her how to quickly prepare breakfast & lunch meals for her husband and herself in tin metal bento boxes. Then what to wear to protect her from the hot sun, the centipedes, spiders and cane leaves sharp edges. Kiyo dresses Misato in long sleeve shirts, with a tied up dress over leggings and straw slippers with large hat and a cloth over it to hold it in place. (Don’t have to wear these clothes.) Kiyo grabs Misato’s hand to pull her as they quickly leave running to catch the train. Kiyo pointing to the horizon and beautiful mountains, they ride the open car train for an hour thru the cane fields and get off when it stops to join their “womens field gang.” 


02:00 A section: Koto melody “womens field gang!” 

(After the men have cut the cane, the womens field gang does the “hole hole” stripping dead leaves off the cane stalks.) 

Kiyo shows Misato how to strip the sharp edged dry leaves from the cane stalks, then carry heavy cane stalks on their shoulders and putting the stalks into the carts that once full, men will take it away to the sugar mill.


02:32 C section: Careful here comes the Luna!

Kiyo points and warns Misato to beware the cruel order barking, whip carrying Caucasian field supervisors on horseback. Both men and women workers fear him!


(Kiyo walks away, looking down searching for more cane stalks, and leaves the stage.)Misato keeps her head down to hide and avoid the luna’s watchful eyes. She grabs and uses the hoe to dig up and clear weeds away from the field that is about to be planted.


03:04 D section: Onryō mono (怨霊物, phantom plays)

Misato: (has already returned the field work and is sitting in her home shack) Working late night mending clothes, feeling the inescapable and futility of endless hours of women’s work, completely exhausted, Misato falls asleep and dreams. 


Dancer 2: (Kiyo) Henge mono with mask over face or white wig has transformed into Misato’s negative self (alter ego) in the form of an Obake (ghost or phantom): 


An obake appears, walks over to Misato. He tells (motions) the sleeping Misato that she is weak, cannot keep doing the endless hours of never ending the work, that she cannot survive here, and to leave, return home to Japan and live an easier life with her family & friends. The obake taunts and dances around her. Misato’s sleep is disturbed! Her face grimaces in anguish and turns her head from side to side in turmoil.  The obake scares her with his threatening movements! Misato’s body trembles in fear!


03:35 E Section Koto Solo, Log Drum Enters: The Obake reaches over with his finger and touches Misato on shoulder. Misato suddenly awakes and sees the Obake! Stands and backs away in fear! The obake continues to taunt and warn her! Misato experiences her internal conflict & struggle. It’s her test of will to persevere and overcome all obstacles.


03:51 E2 Section Koto Solo continues, Bass Enters: Misato & Obake fight! Her good self fights against her lower self represented by the evil Obake. With pure faith in heart, she struggles and fights, perseveres. With all her strength and power in a final strike, she stuns, defeats and chases the Obake away. The Obake flees!


04:24 B Section Koto Repetitive rhythm (at work in the cane field) Misato feels triumphant, smiles and beams with happiness. And works in the field stripping the dead leaves from stalks and carrying loads stalks to put in the cart. Misato notices that Kiyo’s slowing work pace. Kiyo coughs. Misato asks Kiyo if she is ok? Kiyo says yes I’m fine! They work together, in their daily routine happily talking socializing. When the luna boss on horseback is not looking, Misato mocks the luna on horseback giving commands. Misato is smiling and laughing joyously. But Kiyo movements slow way down. She coughs and then collapses.


04:56 A Section Koto Melody 

Misato runs to help Kiyo. Kiyo stands, but is weak Then Misato runs and tells the Luna that Kiyo is sick. Kiyo is sent home to rest. Misato takes Kiyo home. Kiyo lies in bed burning up with a fever. Misato wipes the forehead of Kiyo with a cloth. She tells Kiyo’s husband to get the plantation doctor. But many hours pass before the doctor arrives and Kiyo passes away!


05:27 C Section Misato has lost her best friend, confidant and helper. She is saddened and feels empty. 


(The Obake enters, taunts Misato, dances around her and says (motions) “this is what will happen to you if you stay!”)


But Misato remembers what Kiyo had told her on her first plantation day when they met. (””Kiyo, tells “Misato you know there is severe depression in Japan. Your family in Japan are depending on you to send them money. Work hard, never give up, persevere, save up enough money. When the 3 year contract is finished leave plantation and return home to Japan or leave to Honolulu or mainland to make our and childrens’ lives better. “Gaman,” the Japanese way, “endure or bear.” Gambatte Kudasai!!””)


05:59 Last Moments Misato standing in her home shack late night (only koto with wooden log drums): Misato reaches down to the bed and carefully picks up and holds gently in her arms Kiyo’s baby Nobuo. Misato walks slowly over to the open door. Stops, and gazes up at the stars, with sadness, wipes a tear rolling down her cheek, and says a silent prayer to her friend Kiyo in Heaven. Then Misato looks down lovingly at baby Nobuo, a nisei, who is carrying the hopes and dreams of the issei!!

06:30 Music Fades Misato freezes looking down at her baby.)

06:37 END Dancers bow to mom’s urn/ashes then to audience.

Asian Tunes-Audio