Told he may never be able to perform again, Japanese pianist returns to stage one year after anti-Asian mob attack

Japanese pianist returns after attack

Japanese jazz pianist Tadataka Unno has returned to the stage after being attacked last year by a group of teens in a New York City subway.

Tragic incident: Tadataka, 41, was walking in Manhattan to the ticket gate of a subway station on Sept. 27, 2020, when he was approached and attacked by a group of teenage boys and girls after being mistaken as Chinese, NextShark previously reported.

  • There are people, many people just watching me,” Tadataka recounted to Inside Edition. “So I was screaming, ‘Help me.’ But most of the people just ignore me.”
  • A woman eventually helped Tadataka by calling the police. He was taken to a local hospital and suffered several injuries, including a broken collarbone and bruises to his head, body and hands.
  • He also needed an emergency surgery that had doctors place a metal plate on his collarbone. Not only would the operation affect Tadataka’s mobility, but the doctors also told him he might never play the piano again.
  • The heartbreaking news caused Tadataka to panic about his future. He said, “I didn’t know what to do if I cannot play the piano anymore. I should find another job or know how to make living. And also, I just got a newborn baby last year, June.”
  • Jerome Jennings, Tadataka’s musician friend, helped him by setting up a GoFundMe campaign that raised over $300,000 from its initial $25,000 goal.

No arrest: The New York Police Department has not arrested anyone in connection Tadataka’s case, and authorities have yet to classify the attack as an anti-Asian hate crime. The case was also transferred to the MTA’s transit robbery squad for investigation since the incident occurred in the subway system.

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  • According to Tadataka’s wife, the musician heard the attackers yell out racial slurs and the words “Chinese” and “Asians” during the incident, Jennings told CBS New York in October 2020.
  • Tadataka said about the incident, “At first, I was convinced that there was an Asian hate crime because when somebody was beating me up, calling me Chinese, this I’m sorry, we cannot really broadcast, but it’s ‘Chinese motherf*cker, just beat him up.’”

Return to New York City: Tadataka returned to New York City in May after his five-month rehab in Tokyo. Speaking to Inside Edition, the musician shared he was still afraid to ride the subway and to go out alone.

  • I cannot go to the subway. I can not get on subway,” he said. “It’s still hard for me, but little by little, get to use to walk around by myself, but it’s still hard.”
  • Tadataka, who has now moved out of Harlem with his family, played at Blue Note last month alongside John Pizzarelli and Mike Karn. 
  • He said about being able to play the piano again at the jazz club, “It was so amazing feeling…I have so many memories there and feel like finally came back home.” 
  • The pianist is scheduled for another surgery this fall to remove the metal plate on his shoulder.

(To view the post in full below, you must click on the Facebook post and look through the social media platform.)

Featured Image Jim Coleman (left), GoFundMe (right)

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