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7 Reasons to Visit the Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments

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A Japanophile who has survived 15 solo trips to Japan. Ced's visits focus on discovering the country’s lesser-known attractions.

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

No other attraction 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.

For musicians and music lovers alike, this is one attraction that should not be missed when in Japan.

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.

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 also sheltered, directly connected to the train station and museum, and next to a major shopping/dining district. A visit to this foremost Hamamatsu attraction could thus be easily coupled with meals and an hour or two of leisurely shopping.

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.

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 featured ethnic instruments 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 melodious heritages also continue to be deeply cherished today.

Kundu Drums from Papua New Guinea.

Kundu Drums from Papua New Guinea.

3. English Names Are Displayed

Though many displays do not have English descriptions, names and place-of-origin are clearly stated.

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.

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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.

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.

And if you play a Japan-made instrument, as I do, you will surely 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. It was displayed just steps away from the Electone Stagea, which I currently play.

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.

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, 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-players. Who knows? The stately aura of some of these elegant masterpieces might even inspire you to pick up piano lessons.

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.

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.

Piano-themed souvenirs at Gift Shop Andante.

Piano-themed souvenirs at Gift Shop Andante.

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.

And 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. Or Baroque-Style minuet dancing for adults.

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

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© 2019 Ced Yong

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