Harmonica Played in Japan

Last Update: 26 Sep. 1995

Harmonica came to Japan in about 1880-1890. (The Yokohama Festival is, in a part, the memorial event of 100th anniversary of harmonica in Japan.) Harmonica play was prosperous through '20s-'50s. And in addition, after World War II, harmonica was used in elementary education (age 6-12). But, after '60s-, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and keyboard have took place of harmonica, so harmonica play is not so prosperous now. But harmonica sounds is usually used in commercial message and popular music. Some says that, in the trend of looking-back of acoustic sounds, harmonica sales in Japan is obviously increasing again.
Harmonica lovers in Japan are divided into 2 types today, I think. One is of rather old people, learned before '50s, and his/her followers. They play mainly tremolo diatonic. The other is of rather young people who had learned harmonica directly from hearing foreign (US or Europe) music. They play mainly 10 holes (Blues Harp).
Total number of harmonica players in Japan I don't know. The number of people who have played harmonica may be great, for almost all people near my age have played harmonica in elementary school. There are also some harmonica clubs who gathers about 7-800 people in yearly concert of the club menbers.

In Japan 3 harmonica manufacturers exists. They are

Tombo Musical Instrument Manufacturing Company
2-37-22, Nishi-Nippori,
Tokyo 116, JAPAN Tel.+81-3-3802-2105

Suzuki Musical Instrument Company
25-12, Ryoke,
Shizuoka 430, JAPAN Tel.+81-53-461-2325

YAMAHA Corporation
---address not sure, sorry
For solo play of tremoro, Tombo & Suzuki is usually used. For 10 holes model, Tombo makes "Lee Oskar model" and "Major Boy", and Suzuki makes "Pro Master". For chromatic, Hohner is popular in Japan.

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Masaaki Shigehara / PFD00763@niftyserve.or.jp