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Toshiko Akiyoshi was born in Manchuria, China, and was considering a career in medicine when her family returned to live in Japan. "Japan was still heavily occupied then, and our resort city of Beppu was flooded with soldiers. One day I happened to pass one of the many dance halls that were set up for the occupation soldiers, and I noticed a sign: 'Pianist wanted'." Toshiko, who had some training as a classical pianist…

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