Chihiro Yamanaka is an internationally renowned, hard-swinging jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader, whose fluid, athletic technique has drawn rave reviews and very favorable comparisons to legends such as and . She is based in New York.
Yamanaka was born in Kiryū, in Japan's Gunma Prefecture, in 1976. At age four she began formal piano studies. While she began with classical music and still practices it, she shifted her focus to jazz studies in high school. After graduation she attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston as part of the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead residency program. She played with a wide range of musicians in Boston and in New York before heading back home to Japan after she graduated from Berklee in 2000 with honors -- and took first place in Down Beat's Outstanding Performance Award competition.