Fujigen Music Instrument Exhibit in Nakamachi

Fujigen, the Japanese musical instrument maker, is holding its 17th annual music instrument exhibition from at Okinado Kura Branch, a Japanese confectionary on Nakamach Street. The exhibition runs from Friday, Aug. 25 to Sunday, Sep. 3 (10:30 am – 5:30 pm) and is located in the old kura-style storehouse in the back of Okinado’s shop. Just walk through the shop to get there (you can also pick up a tasty Japanese sweet while you’re there too!).

A selection of Fujgen's guitars

A selection of Fujgen’s guitars

The Okinado Kura Branch shop

The Okinado Kura Branch shop

Fujigen is based in Matsumoto and makes all kinds of wooden instruments including guitars, ukuleles, big Japanese taiko drums, wooden music boxes, and other instruments made from wood. Originally the company focused on guitars and violins, and at one point even worked with Fender. You can see examples of all of these instruments at the exhibition and even buy one if you feel inclined to (they even had several ukuleles on sale for affordable discount prices).

I visited the exhibition yesterday and for me, it was especially cool to see the huge taiko drums up close. They also had an interesting kind of “music box” that looks more like a small cabinet and uses a round metal disk to play the tunes instead of the revolving cylinder you normally see in smaller music boxes. If you’re a guitar or ukulele player, there were plenty of those on display too. Fujigen specializes in the wooden bodies and frames of these instruments, which can be quite beautiful, and each one has its own unique characteristic color and patterns.

The taiko drum display

The taiko drum display

For percussion fans, you might be especially interested in Fujigen’s newly developed “A-frame,” which is a kind of electronic percussion instrument developed in collaboration with the ATV company in Hamamatsu, Japan. The instrument is shaped like a flat diamond, with a wooden frame and electronic, plastic surface that you beat with your hand. The A-frame has hundreds of different percussion sounds stored in its memory which you can play around with and make your own compositions. If you’re interested in hearing or trying it out, on Saturday, Sep. 2 from 11 am to 4 pm, you’ll actually have a chance to hear and play the A-frame!

The new A-frame electronic percussion instrument

The new A-frame electronic percussion instrument

The exhibition is free, so if you have a chance, to check it out. I also highly recommend trying at least one of Okinado’s Japanese confections too. They have a good variety including mochi based sweets like walnut mochi, chestnut/walnut sweets, and sweet bean past confections. Map to Okinado is here.

You can check out some of Fujigen’s guitars on their website here too. It’s in Japanese but you can see some of the nice frames/bodies they make!

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