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The Most Advanced Music Technology Right in Hamamatsu City, Japan

Cool History from Japan’s Musical Heartland

Torakusu Yamaha was born just two years before Perry’s Black Ship anchored off the coast of Japan. After learning how to repair European clocks in Nagasaki and a stint doing medical device repair in Osaka, Mr. Yamaha started his Organ Manufacturing Corporation after successful repair of a broken organ at home in Hamamatsu City.

At the tender age of 10, and already known for his genius ability fiddling with machines, Koichi Kawai joined Mr. Yamaha as an apprentice in 1896 and at just 11 years old, became the closest thing to a “Research Department Head” that existed at the time.

Following Mr. Yamaha’s passing, Mr. Kawai was promoted to Technical Head but a verging on violent worker rebellion in 1926 demanded capital infusion from a deep pocketed and powerful “Zaibatsu” investor and the new direction towards efficiency and speed did not fit well with Kawai’s total focus on precision and technique. Kawai Instrument Corporation was started the following year with 7 like- minded technicians on the team. 87 years later, the Kawai brand appears on stages across the planet and the perfect sound resonates in the effort and dedication to quality envisioned by Mr. Kawai and his team over the years.

Unsurprisingly, my first impression of Hamamatsu Station is a beautiful, shining piano. Just below the platform, before the ticket gate, Kawai has constructed an immaculate grand piano display. The showroom features one snow-white and one ebony black grand piano. The white version gleams with transparent casing and gold embellishments while the deep, shining black version stands classic and pure under the soft lighting in the special, slightly elevated space. Absolutely not over the top in any way, shape or form, both pianos dripped of class and commanded attention and unbridled awe.

I could see Sir Elton John, Lady Gaga or even my neighbor’s seven-year-old daughter gently caressing those immaculate keys. Sir John with a brilliantly gaudy hat, the Lady in tight leather sitting half on, half off the bench and the little princess with frilly ankle socks and bright patent leather shoes just reaching the pedals for each neatly struck note.

When you come to Hamamatsu City, make sure to take a moment to admire these lovely examples of beautiful, melodious super high tech!

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Former Deep Japan Writer

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