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How It Started

In 1982, Masaro Miyajima, a music TV program director invited The Whiffenpoofs to Japan and ever since the project is being continued with numerous people all volunteered to welcome these amazing singers every year.  
​With belief of providing an opportunity to grow youngstars who will become strong bridge between the United States and Japan, this grassroots project has continued and Japan has become one of the most traditional stops during their world tour. 

It all begun on a day ​40 years ago

Graduated from Keio University with passionate days of singing instead of studying, I was directing a TV program of Yomiuri Japan Philharmonic Orchestra at Nippon Television Network which I joined in 1962. On an ordinal day in 1980, I received a call from my senior from highschool asking for inviting a male a cappella group of Yale Univesity which he was taking care of at the hotel he worked at to my TV show and later received a piece of vinyl record.  This is my first encounter to the Whiffenpoofs.

Listening to this vinyl record surprised me with such joyful and beautiful singing which was completely different from

Japanese collegiate male chorus. As I have never experienced such delightful chorus during my collage years,

I created 2 one hour special TV program in 1982 and invited them.

Dana Martin ('82) who was a tour manager of that year and has a Japanese grandmother lived in Japan is one of the very first Whiffs I continuously met in Japan and the U.S. afterwards. Ever since that year, 14 singers have passed by my sight every year which now counts up to more than 500 Whiffs by now.

During this long period of relationship with the Whiffenpoofs, I have been to Yale University twice.  

First time was when the project hit its quarter of a century, and second time to attend the Whiffenpoofs centennial ceremony both trips with host families who have been great help of the project. 

An unforgettable story to me was when I attended a main ceremony in Commons dining hall.

We were seated in a center of this giant hall with aligned long tables with over 750 Whiffenpoof alumni and their families attended.

The ceremony was led by Dennis Cross('65) who is full of humor and dressed himself with medieval taste robe along with laurel on his head, and started with recognition of special contributors through out its 100 years of history.

I was the only Japanese with numbers of Americans to be recognized and there were my portrait picture and introduction on a ceremony leaflet (thank you to Timothy Mansfield ('95) and Brian Byun ('96) for a great introduction!) .

As I stood up by my name being called, there was a big applause from both ends of the hall.  

They are all who passed by my sight in Japan and were sitting towards the end as being rather younger among all attendees.

I then responded to them by swinging a red napkin over my head to make sure that they see me which led the applause even louder.

This made elder alumni who don't know who I am with a surprising expression on their face. 













After the party, numbers of alumni including Dana Martin ('82) came to us and my wife was

also exchanging voices and smiles with all the familiar faces. 


There are countless memories over the 36 years of hosting them.

There was once a Whiff has taken off to a next country with a high graded camera which his host family lend him and

I received a claim from the family and contacted him and later on had it shipped back.

Another year with a tour manager mixed up the arrival date and the group never showed up on schedule.

The group cheerfully appeared on stage in casual outfit while my chorus was singing to wait for them at the concert.

Timothy Mansfield ('95) who returned to Japan and worked for my at my company still comes back every year to sing with us

at the concert. Same for David Code ('87) to add extra harmonies.

At the early years of the project, I arranged the group's accommodation at very cheap hotel but one morning when I went in to

wake them up, I saw long legs sticking out to the hallway from a tiny little room which made me regret for having them sleep in such environment. I then asked my sister to host them at home which is a start of our homestay tradition which now counts up to

more than 100 families cumulatively.  

I strongly believe that having elite youngstars from the U.S. staying in a Japanese rabbit cage (joke!) and getting close to

Japanese families will help growing even more friendly relationship between two countries.

Many host families continue to build stories with members by keeping in touch with them.

Lastly, let me share the latest story with you. 

July 27th is my birthday and in 2017, host families and the Whiffenpoofs cerebrated my birthday at the reception party.

A Whiff Benson May (2017) came to me with smile on his face and said "Miyajima san, my father Peter was also a Whiff".

The surprise made me pull out my smartphone from my pocket and I immediately sent an email to Peter May (1987) saying

"I am so happy to see your son. The Whiffs are cerebrating my birthday".

Then I received a prompt reply from Peter who said "Miyajima-san, I am so happy too. I remember singing Happy Birthday

for your 50th birthday 30 years ago!". 


This was a happy moment. 

These dreaming experience were possible all because of everyone who help this project including host families and sponsors. 

I promise that this project will continue on with my successor Jody Toda.

(UP) Masaro Miyajima swinging red napkin at the centennial ceremony
​(RIGHT) An Introduction page on ceremony leaflet

World tour and Japan

Whiffenpoofs plan their three months long world tour by themselves. Each group member has different role including musical director, business manager and country by country tour manager.
The tour is planned by using varieties of networks of Yale, Whiff alumni and active members in countries all over the world. Fund of the tour is normally generated from their earnings from concert during the first half of the year in the United States and also from profits during the world tour. It is a common scene that they are hosted by a five star hotel in Dubai in exchange of singing at their fine dining and next morning flying with a budget airline. 
The group's experience in Japan has been very unique for over 35 years with cozy stays at home away from home where all 14 members each have his own homestay. Every year the Whiffenpoofs blow a summer storm to Japan with the help of host families and all the other supporters, then head off to their next destination. 

Whiffs in Japan Committee

Masaro Miyajima

Invited Whiffs to the TV show he directed in 1982. Continuously invited the group every year for more than 35 years with his broad network in Japan to keep the project sustainable.

An honorary Whiffenpoof since 1988.

Jody Toda

First visited Whiffenpoofs concert in 2001 when she was still in middle school.  Started to involve in organizing in 2008 after returning to Japan from highschool in the US, 

An honorary Whiffenpoof since 2016

(Jody "Oh-a No-a My Car a got" Toda)

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