View Full Version : Japanese luthier ukuleles - discovering unique ukes

11-17-2010, 12:42 AM
It is my understanding that Japanese guitar making is some of the best in the world. I've heard this alot with nobody claiming differently.

I remember discovering T's, who make high end ukes, and wanting to try them out. Those are hard to find outside of Japan. I saw they won an award at a uke fest in Hawaii recently. I missed an opportunity to buy one from that shop in Tempe. oh well. A Japanese unicorn. Just another form of UAS.

Recently, a shop was showing me some ukes made by a mysterious young Japanese man who didn't speak much english but was showing his ukes to some local shops in the USA. The story is: The shop liked his ukes and took some off his hands. He, in turn asked the shop to sign a visa paper explaining his whereabouts and actions. So, he must have been visiting America for business purposes or market research. That's just my guess; but, it was a mystery.

I read the label in the ukes. I never heard of the uke maker before; but, the ukes look really good. I tried them the first day but did not think much of them as my father was pressing me to go to a casino. I actually fell in love with a Collings Curly Koa at the same shop.

Days later, I went back with plenty of free time on my hands to play a number of ukes at the shop without being pressed to leave.

I spent alot of time with that Japanese uke. I loved it. But, I had no fricken clue about what the real story behind that uke is. Is it a Chinese built copy? Is this some guy trying to make money off a cheap uke masquerading as a quality uke?

I scoured the internet. No data. At least, Nothing in english.

So, I remembered I knew a japanese woman who does translations for japanese to americanglish. I asked her to research the japanese name provided by the label inside the uke.

She found out all she could via the internet, including the man's shop in Japan.

The guy is bonafied. He spent 12 years in a guitar/ukulele luthier school before going out on his own. A japanese ukulele blog talks about his work. There is a website only of the school he went to. It appears I would have to commission somebody to talk to shop owner and translate my questions with his answers.

Pictures of the uke(s) to follow by tomorrow. I will go back now at ease with the knowledge that the uke is a genuine Japan made ukulele by a trained luthier.

The ukes are like nothing I've seen yet. It looks somewhat like an Ohana I bought; but, much much nicer than the Ohana. And the sound is bright, resonant, and big with the sustain that doesn't seem to want to quit. It just keeps ringing.

How do any of you others fare with Japanese ukes? How do you source them?

FYI, I am thinking of importing a 1973 classic Japanese car if I move back to the states. I'm turning japanese. But honestly, Some of the Japanese products are unique and rare in comparison to American products.

11-17-2010, 02:54 AM
I live in Japan and would love to get more info!