Hatsune “Rin” Matsudaira is the grandchild of NVC Lifetime Member Martin “Mitch” Matsudaira, and the child of Mark and Yuka Matsudaira. Rin is a graduating senior at Franklin High School in Seattle and is currently the Associated Student Body (ASB) senior class secretary and viola section leader / orchestra representative. Since 4th grade, Rin has been a part of Koto no WA, a performing koto group in the greater Seattle area, where they are also a group leader. In the fall, Rin plans to attend Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle to major in Music.
Compared to many, my upbringing is very unique. I grew up in a bilingual family, as my mother immigrated from Japan and my father was born and raised in Seattle. The family was unique in that my grandfather lived with us and helped raise me from my birth.
My grandfather was many things. He was a storyteller, a teacher, and a caregiver. Papa Mich, as I called him, was always there to support my childhood attention needs.
When I was in kindergarten and first grade, my father fell extremely ill. Later, this illness was diagnosed as stage four cancer. While my mother was constantly in and out of the house to care for my father in the hospital, Papa Mich became my primary caregiver. Whenever I was lonely, he would always turn his attention from the television to play games with me or entertain with stories. Many stories were told about his life and the various people he had met. One thing that had a deep impact on me was his stories of Minidoka. Although a difficult topic, he was determined to teach me about Japanese American history. He related many stories about his memories of being in the internment camp — both good and bad — from playing baseball to being behind barbed wire with armed guards. At first, I often found his stories confusing. My age at the time with little to no knowledge about the world around me made me struggle to comprehend. Through his persistence, my grandfather always managed to explain his thoughts despite my limited vocabulary.
Papa Mich also encouraged me to participate in local Japanese American community events. The earliest community event I remember him always taking me to are the chow mein dinners at Nisei Vets Hall and introducing me to all of his friends there. Over the years, I learned how important the Japanese American community was to him, and that made me want to find a way to give back to community. This evolved into frequent volunteer work for local Japanese American organizations and events, such as Japan Fair, Aki Matsuri, and the Seattle Japanese Garden.
I miss Papa Mich dearly and losing him has left an irreplaceable entity in my life. He was my mentor for everything. His lessons ranged from how to hold chopsticks to times tables in first grade and much more. He taught me kindness, diligence, and to love, not hate. He has also taught me to love music.
My interest in music was greatly influenced by my grandfather. Music was always present in our home. Though he was not a musician himself, he had a beautiful singing voice and loved to jam on the piano. Through him, I was able to discover jazz and blues. He was my biggest fan and always supported me, never missing a recital.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned from him was to follow my dreams. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that working with music was my dream. Thinking about life after high school made me come to the conclusion that I would like to pursue music as a career. Through music, I want find success and pave the way for future musicians to follow their dreams. Being successful to me means being able to produce music which touches peoples’ hearts and raises their spirits.
I’ve experienced happiness from this through my volunteer work at a nursing home here in Seattle and in Japan. The residents’ smiles and participation as they clapped and sang touched my heart. One of my favorite examples is when a resident told me that she has heard a few of the songs I have played in her childhood, and she felt nostalgic, and it brought tears to her eyes. While speaking with the audiences of my performances and the fans of my koto group, it struck me how music is able to connect people from different communities and backgrounds. No matter the language or cultural barrier, music seems to be a universal language spoken by all.
My first-choice college would help propel me further towards my dreams. Cornish College of the Arts has a very diverse culture of artists of many different mediums, providing a rich environment for collaboration between creative minds. This multiplies the possibilities of exposing my music to the public and reaching my goals. It excites me to work towards creating my own original music and discovering new ideas on how to express myself from the feedback of other artists.
I am sure my music loving grandfather would be proud of how far I have come. From my remaining years of school to my future goals, I can just image how he would have a wide smile and pat me on the head saying that I’ve done well, his pride being evident. The thought of this warms my heart.
I will forever be grateful that I was fortunate to have him by my side ever since I was born — even after his passing. To my second father, my mentor, and my dear friend Papa Mich…
“Okagesama de ima no jibun ga arimasu — Because of you, I am who I am now today.”