Blind Japanese pianist's album races up charts


June 18, 2010 Updated Jun 10, 2009 at 9:11 AM EDT

Albums by a blind Japanese pianist have surged up the country's online charts since he won a prestigious US award at the weekend, online retailer Amazon Japan said Wednesday.

Nobuyuki Tsujii, who is 20 years old and has been blind since birth, on Sunday became the first Asian and the first blind pianist to win the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas.

Tsujii's 2007 "Debut" album, which includes five self-composed pieces, ranked second in Amazon Japan's music charts, pulling ahead of Japan's popular heart-throb singer Masaharu Fukuyama. Another of his albums is currently at number five.

"Before his award, his albums did not even rank in the top 50, but since then they have shot up to the top ranks. It is unbelievable how sales have surged in such a short time," an Amazon spokeswoman said.

Tsujii won his first prize when he was seven years old, and he joined the Osaka Century Symphony Orchestra at the age of 10. Since then, he has performed overseas including in Europe and the US.

"I've always loved the piano since I was small. The piano replaced toys -- it was a friend for me," he told reporters in Tokyo, a day after his return from the United States.

"Whenever I would go on a trip I would feel uncomfortable if I didn't play piano everyday," he said, adding that he first performed in public on a piano on display at a shopping centre in Saipan.

Tsujii, a music student at Ueno Gakuen in Tokyo, said that imagining colours helps him perform.

"I like blue, and orange, so I visualise those colours when I perform," he said. "I try to think which colour would go with which number."

Asked what he would like to see if he had sight, he replied, smiling: "Right now, I'm seeing things sufficiently through my heart, so I am satisfied."

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