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|History for Yamato||Kyoto, Japan and Riverside, CA|
|Active Junior Corps (Open Class)||Did you march Yamato?|
Yamato was the brainchild of co-founder Bobby Ohtsuki and his friend, Mr. Woo Nakahara. For many years, Bobby and Woo would visit the United States to attend the DCI World Championships. Each time they would return thinking "how great it would be to give Japanese kids the opportunity to perform here." |
Bobby met Edward Martin in 1987; they became good friends and collaborated on several projects, including the participation of Bobby's All-Girls High School Band in the 1995 Tournament of Roses Parade. In the summer, they would meet at Championships, and the dream of creating a Japanese drum corps to compete only at DCI began to move toward reality.
In 1995, Bobby and Eddie rented an RV and toured with the Blue Devils to sample life on the road. During that trip, they began laying the foundation for a drum and bugle corps comprised of Japanese kids who would travel each summer to compete in DCI. It was called the "Kamikaze Project," "Kamikaze" meaning divine wind. The name drew mixed reactions from DCI because of its associations with suicide attacks from World War II, so the corps name became Yamato instead.
Ancient Japanese were known as the Yamato Minzoku or people of Yamato. A legend tells of a young prince named Yamato Takeru, appointed by the gods to fight for the Earth against legendary forces of evil. The Japanese characters used in writing Yamato have several meanings. The interpretation chosen for the drum corps is "dai wa" (big circle) to emphasize the oneness of a family's commitment to excel towards a common goal. Yamato is also synonymous with the phrase "yamato damashii" or spirit of Yamato, a rallying cry still used today to bind the people together in times of trouble. The Yamato Drum Corps’ 1997 show was based on a made-for-TV Japanese movie about Yamato Takeru.
Yamato has committed itself to return each year to North America to compete in DCI's Division III. Yamato's first competitive season was a complete success, as the corps placed 12th in the 1997 DCI Division III World Championships with a score of 83.9, making Yamato the highest scoring drum corps from Japan ever to compete in DCI. In 1998, Yamato placed third in DCI Division III competition, making it the highest finishing non-North American drum corps in DCI history and DCI’s first International Division Champion.
During the off-season, Yamato filed for non-profit status in the State of California making Riverside, California, its U.S. base of operations. In 1999, Yamato returned to North America and retained its finalist status by placing seventh in Division III Finals. Yamato began the new millennium by recruiting heavily in the U.S. and fielding its largest corps ever, 59 members. The corps' third consecutive finalist finish was fifth place in Division III.
2001 was a year of experimentation as Yamato moved up from Division III to Division II. Fielding the smallest Division II corps with 66 members, Yamato finished tenth in the 2001 DCI Division II Prelims. Their 2003 program put the corps in ninth place in Division II/III finals, a placement they equalled in 2004 with their show called 'Clockworks: The Evolution of Timekeeping.' That year the corps also finished second in Division III Finals.
Today Yamato continues to provide an opportunity for Japanese and American youths to experience the drum corps activity by traveling to and competing in North America, the mecca of drum corps. Members are recruited from all over Japan and the western United States.
U.S. and Japanese corps members communicate with each other through an exchange of videotapes, both of guard and of the individual sections. The videos inspire further transPacific communication such as emails and photo exchanges. Corps members rehearse in separate groups on boths sides of the Pacific, then put the show together in Ottawa, Illinois, in July.
Other Yamato accomplishments: 1999 All Japan Color Guard Festival Bronze Medallist 1997, 1998, 1999; U.S. Coast Guard Open Finalist 1998, 2000 North American Open Bronze Medallist; 1998 DCI Division III Bronze Medallist; 1998 DCI International Division Champion; 1998 All Japan Color Guard Festival Gold Medallist.
[Yamatodrumcorps.org; DCW, 6/21/02, p.13; DCW, 6/18/04, p.10]
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