Berklee Associate Professor Toru Tiger Okoshi has observed dualities in his life over the years. With a grin, he tells me about how he was recently booked for two performances on the same night at the same hour in two different places. Remarkably enough, he showed up on time for both gigs. The fact that the two venues were on opposite sides of the international dateline helped the logistics considerably.
Tiger is a nickname given him by pianist Ted Lo '75, one of the first friends he met when he arrived at Berklee. Tiger is the part of Okoshi's personality that is the renowned jazz trumpeter who got his start in the U.S. Toru is his alter ego, who was born in Ashiya City, Japan, the son of a samurai warrior. It was Toru who earned a degree in commerce from Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan before coming to America on his honeymoon.
That trip to America in 1972 was a turning point and led to the emergence of Tiger. Okoshi and his new bride Akemi traversed the country on a Greyhound Bus and ended up in the lobby of Berklee's 1140 Boylston Street building. With no English language skills and very little money left, Okoshi and his wife relied on the hospitality of various Japanese students (including Ted Lo) for accommodations until they found their own apartment. Okoshi decided to cash in the airline tickets for the couple's return to Japan, paid his tuition, and began his studies at Berklee.