7 Reasons to Visit the Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments

Updated on March 2, 2020
CYong74 profile image

Yong is a Japanophile who has survived 15 solo trips to Japan. His visits now focus on discovering the country’s lesser-known attractions.

No other museum in Japan celebrates music as enthusiastically as the Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments.
No other museum in Japan celebrates music as enthusiastically as the Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments.

The Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments (浜松市楽器博物館) doesn’t feature often in travel articles about Japan, which is a pity because the museum houses a comprehensive and absolutely eclectic collection of musical instruments, on top of being just minutes away from a Shinkansen (bullet train) station. It is a must-visit attraction for all musicians and music lovers when in Japan.

1. The Museum Is Walking Distance From the Main Train Station of Hamamatsu

The Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments is approximately five minutes’ walk from Hamamatsu Station, the station itself serviced by the Hikari and Kodama services of the Tōkaidō Shinkansen Line. The overhead route is sheltered, directly connected to the train station and museum, and next to a major shopping/dining district. A visit to this Hamamatsu attraction could thus be easily coupled with meals and an hour or two of leisurely shopping.

The overhead walkway from Hamamatsu Station leads directly to the second floor of Hamamatsu’s most famous museum.
The overhead walkway from Hamamatsu Station leads directly to the second floor of Hamamatsu’s most famous museum.

2. Dazzling Collections of Musical Instruments From All Cultures

Vibrant splashes of color immediately greet visitors after the entrance to the exhibits, with several gorgeous and elaborate Indonesian Gamelans on centerpiece display. As you move through the thematic sections, you are sure to be dazzled by other ethnic instruments on feature too, some of which you might not even have heard of before. In fact, the most exotic displays do not even resemble musical instruments. And yet, all have entertained generations of people and tribes. Their musical heritages also continue to be cherished today.

Clockwise from top left: Ethnic musical instruments from Indonesia, Japan, Latin America, and Oceania.
Clockwise from top left: Ethnic musical instruments from Indonesia, Japan, Latin America, and Oceania.

3. English Names of Instruments Are Displayed

Regrettably, most instruments on display do not have English descriptions, although names and place-of-origin are stated in English for most. What is more useful is perhaps the gentle audio snippets playing at some exhibits. If you recognize what you see, or have at least read about the instruments, these snippets complete your knowledge by allowing you to hear what the instrument actually sounds like.

Kundu Drums from Papua New Guinea.
Kundu Drums from Papua New Guinea.

4. A Section Devoted to Made-in-Japan Musical Instruments

Today, Japanese manufacturers such as Yamaha, Korg, and Casio are giants in the music industry, particularly famous for manufacturing electronic keyboards. The Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments celebrates this heritage by having a section devoted to Japanese pianos, organs, and other instruments such as harmonicas. This section is right beside the Electronic Instruments section, in which several Japanese models are also prominently featured.

If you play a Japan-made instrument, as I do, you will be thrilled by the showcased heritage models. In my case, I was delighted to finally meet the Yamaha Electone D1 digital organ in person during my first visit to the museum. It was displayed just steps away from the Electone Stagea, which I currently play.

No other attraction or museum in Japan celebrates Japanese-made music keyboards so enthusiastically.
No other attraction or museum in Japan celebrates Japanese-made music keyboards so enthusiastically.

City of Music

Within Japan, Hamamatsu is renowned as a manufacturer of musical instruments. Yamaha, Roland, and Kawai are all currently headquartered in Hamamatsu.

5. A Stunning Collection of Pianos From All Ages

An entire hall at the European Instruments section is devoted to the piano and its relatives, relatives including piano predecessors such as the Harpsichord and the Clavichord. While none of these displays are available for playing, the ornate and graceful craftsmanship of each is still sure to delight even non-musicians. Who knows? The stately aura of some of these elegant masterpieces might even inspire you to pick up piano lessons.

The graceful piano and its predecessors fill an entire hall at Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments.
The graceful piano and its predecessors fill an entire hall at Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments.

6. The Hands-on Room Is Fun, Even for Adults

A sizable Hands-on Room, or playroom, is located next to the Electronic Instruments section. While it is intended for children, adults are more than welcome to try their hand at the different instruments available. If you happen to be an expert with any, this might just be your golden chance to deliver an exuberant impromptu performance.

A Japanese visitor experimenting with Nylon Guitar licks in the Hands-on Room.
A Japanese visitor experimenting with Nylon Guitar licks in the Hands-on Room.

7. Lecture Concerts and Workshops

The museum hosts several lecture concerts throughout the year. (Additional fee payable) Even if you don’t speak Japanese, you could still enjoy the associated concert performances.

Like other leading museums in Japan, the Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments also conducts multiple workshops each year. For example, Gamelan music making for kids, and Baroque-Style minuet dancing for adults.

Last but not least, the gift shop, aptly named “Andante,” offers various music-themed souvenirs. How about bringing home a miniature upright piano to celebrate your passion for music?

Piano-themed souvenirs at Gift Shop Andante.
Piano-themed souvenirs at Gift Shop Andante.

Access Information

A
Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments:
3 Chome-9-1 Central, Naka Ward, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka 430-0929, Japan

get directions

B
Hamamatsu Station:
HAMAMATSU STATION, 6-2 Sunayamacho, Naka Ward, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka 430-0926, Japan

get directions

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 ScribblingGeek

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      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        9 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This looks like a place that I would very much like to visit. I enjoy exploring the history of music and musical instruments, I love the fact that the museum is so close to the train station. I may never be able to visit Japan, but if I do, I'll make sure that I go to the museum.

      • Guckenberger profile image

        Alexander James Guckenberger 

        9 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

        This looks fascinating.

      • CYong74 profile imageAUTHOR

        ScribblingGeek 

        9 months ago from Singapore

        Hey Peggy, thanks for commenting. The audio samples are a very thoughtful feature. Those new to a band or music production would undoubtedly find them useful in learning how to identity the sounds of different instruments.

      • CYong74 profile imageAUTHOR

        ScribblingGeek 

        9 months ago from Singapore

        It's a pity, though, it's often skipped over by international tourists. Probably because Hamamatsu is an industrial city and sandwiched between many other famous tourist attractions.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        9 months ago from Houston, Texas

        That does look like a very interesting museum to visit. I particularly like the fact of audio tapes being available so that people can hear the sounds that the musical instruments make.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        9 months ago from UK

        This is a great guide to an interesting museum.

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