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Thread: Buying Ukulele in Japan

  1. #1

    Question Buying Ukulele in Japan

    Specifically a Kiwaya brand. Is it cheaper in Japan than in USA?
    Will go there soon so want to know where I will be able to see one or purchase one in the Tokyo area. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Kiwaya is hard to find in the USA. Most of the cheaper Kiwaya's are not sold in the USA at all and the more expensive ones are just as expensive in Japan as in the USA. For your best selection, go to the Kiwaya store in Tokyo.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Puglele View Post
    Specifically a Kiwaya brand. Is it cheaper in Japan than in USA?
    Will go there soon so want to know where I will be able to see one or purchase one in the Tokyo area. Thanks!
    I've got friends in Japan and every time I've looked at the prices of kiwaya there versus here (and I've done it a lot!) the savings has not amounted to much, if any, more than the cost of checking the uke on the plane or shipping it via DHL. Then add in the hassle factor. But if I were in Tokyo, I would definitely look at them, and maybe buy one, too. I hope you find something you like.

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    Aren't sold under a different name in Japan? I've seen a lot of "Famous" branded ukuleles in my classes here on Oahu, all owned by Japanese ESL students. They said they were made in Japan by Kiwaya. I think the Kiwaya moniker is only used for export.

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    Yes, Famous is a Kiwaya imprint. They tend to have a lower price point than Kiwaya, which is weird, because the laminates of both are identical in design and build.
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    Rakuten sells some Famous ukuleles, but I'm not sure where you'd find their full line-up. There are some solid Koa models as well as the laminate ones, but none really look like rebadged Kiwayas. They seem to be a separate line. Mostly geared tuners and the ones I saw with friction tuners had tie-bar bridges.

    I forced Google to provide more Japanese results by changing my region to Japan in the settings. One site said the Kiwaya brand was just for the export market and only started selling in Japan in 2015.
    Last edited by glennerd; 01-16-2020 at 04:38 PM. Reason: Added info
    Glenn

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by glennerd View Post
    Rakuten sells some Famous ukuleles, but I'm not sure where you'd find their full line-up. There are some solid Koa models as well as the laminate ones, but none really look like rebadged Kiwayas. They seem to be a separate line. Mostly geared tuners and the ones I saw with friction tuners had tie-bar bridges.

    I forced Google to provide more Japanese results by changing my region to Japan in the settings. One site said the Kiwaya brand was just for the export market and only started selling in Japan in 2015.
    I think some of the laminate Kiwaya and Famous models are very similar. Famous FS-1 vs Kiwaya KS-1, etc.

  8. #8
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    I'm guessing in Japan a moniker like "famous" would market better than Kiwaya. Probably the opposite stateside.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by man0a View Post
    I think some of the laminate Kiwaya and Famous models are very similar. Famous FS-1 vs Kiwaya KS-1, etc.
    Similar, but the Kiwayas seem to hold more true to the Martin style - friction tuners and slotted bridge. Mind you, from what I can see online I think there are a lot of Famous models available, so maybe some are identical to Kiwaya models. I almost ordered an FLS-1 once - slotted bridge, but I didn't want the geared tuner look (which could be a selling point to those who dislike friction pegs).
    Glenn

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziret View Post
    I've got friends in Japan and every time I've looked at the prices of kiwaya there versus here (and I've done it a lot!) the savings has not amounted to much, if any, more than the cost of checking the uke on the plane or shipping it via DHL. Then add in the hassle factor. But if I were in Tokyo, I would definitely look at them, and maybe buy one, too. I hope you find something you like.
    Hmmm I always thought there will be a huge discounts
    My Ukes collection:
    Rebel Mango Sublime Soprano (Creme brϋlιe)
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    KoAloha Opio Acacia Soprano KSO-10
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    Pono MCD - Mahogany concert deluxe
    Mele Mahogany Concert

    Looking to sell: KoAloha Opio Acacia Soprano KSO-10 (let me know if you are interested)

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