Hayashi Hiromori (林広守)

Hiromori HAYASHI (December 28, 1831 - April 5, 1896) was a gagaku (ancient Japanese court dance and music) musician from the end of the Edo period to the beginning of the Meiji period. His childhood name was Einosuke, and his first adult name was Hirokane.
He is known as the composer of Japan's national anthem 'Kimigayo.'

Biography and Personal Profile

He was born the third son to Hiromichi HAYASHI, who was the gakunin (player) at Tennoji, Osaka. Later, he was adopted by Hironaru HAYASHI, jigenin (a lower ranking member of the Japanese nobility in ancient times), of the same family. The Hayashi family were descendants of the third son of HATA no Kawakatsu, tracing its roots back to the Asuka period, and served at Shitenno-ji Temple as gagaku performers for generations. During the latter years of the Sengoku period (Period of Warring States), when Emperor Ogimachi sought to reestablish gagaku at the Imperial Court, a tradition that had been discontinued during the Onin War, Hiroyasu HAYASHI (died May 6, 1626, at the age of 73) made a major contribution, which led to Hiroyasu's family serving the Imperial court for generations. Seventh generations after Hiroyasu, Hirosumi HAYASHI was famous for his dance and was favored by Emperor Ninko, and in recognition, he was specially awarded the rank of Shoshiinojo (Senior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade). Hiromori's adoptive father, Hironaru was Hirosumi's son, and Hiromori learned gagaku from both Hirosumi and Hironaru.

In 1841, at the young age of 11, he began serving the Imperial Court in the Hyoe-fu (Imperial Guard Division), for which he was awarded Shorokuinoge (Senior Sixth Rank, Lower Grade). Three years later, he passed the chu gei (middle ranked skill) test that was a minimum requirement for gagaku performers in the Imperial Court, and with his promotion to Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade), he changed his name to Hiromori. Two years after that, he was appointed Kokushi (provincial governor) of Chikuzen Province. In 1865, after being promoted to Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade), he passed the jogei (top ranked skill) test, the highest test for Imperial Court gagaku, with a perfect score. He was the fifth person in the long history of Utaryo (Bureau of Music) to achieve such an outstanding score.

After the Meiji Restoration, in 1869, he was ordered to transfer his residence to Tokyo along with Emperor Meiji, and was assigned to the Kunaisho Gagakukyoku (Music Department of the Imperial Household Ministry). In 1875, the government ordered him to study western music, and thereafter, he aimed to fuse gagaku with western music theory. In 1880, he became a member of the national anthem committee, as a representative of gagaku musicians, and the committee submitting the score for the present day 'Kimigayo' in October of the same year and he played it for the first time on November 3 of the same year, on the Emperor's birthday. In recognition of his contribution, he was awarded with Shohachii (Senior Eighth Rank) after the restoration of the court rank system (When the former court rank system was abolished in 1871, previous ranks were all nullified, and the ranking standard was reviewed for the new ranking system, so this was not a demotion.).

In 1888, he was appointed vice chief of the Music Department, and he was promoted to Jushichii (Junior Seventh Rank) in 1892. After retiring from his position in the following year, he put his efforts into the training of junior members of gagaku. He was particularly noted for his contribution in the restoration of Sho (Japanese flute), which had been on the verge of being abolished. He was awarded Shoshichii (Senior Seventh Rank) upon his death in 1896. The majority of modern day gagaku belongs to his line; however, his eldest son, Hirosue HAYASHI, whom he had the highest hope for, died only two years after taking over his father's work.