7 Reasons to Visit 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. This 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-see for any musician or music lover visiting 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 latter 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 the museum could thus be easily coupled with meals and an hour or two of leisurely shopping.
2. Dazzling Collections of Musical Instruments From All Cultures
Vibrant splashes of color greet visitors immediately after the entrance to the exhibits, with several gorgeous Indonesian Gamelans on centerpiece display. As you move through the thematic sections, you are sure to be dazzled by other ethnic instruments featured too, some of which you probably would not have heard of before. In fact, the most exotic displays do not even resemble music instruments at all. And yet, they have entertained generations of people and tribes. Their musical heritages also continue to be cherished today.
3. English Names of Instruments Are Displayed
Regrettably, most instruments do not have English descriptions. However, 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 instrument, these snippets complete your knowledge by allowing you to hear what the instrument actually sounds like.
4. A Section Devoted to Made-in-Japan Instruments
Today, Japanese manufacturers such as Yamaha, Korg, and Casio are giants in the music industry. 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 in person during my first visit to the museum. It was displayed just steps away from the Electone Stagea, which I currently play.
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
Part of the European Instruments section, an entire hall is devoted to the piano and its relatives, including piano predecessors such as the Harpsichord and Clavichord. While none of these displays are available for playing, the ornate and elegant craftsmanship of each is still sure to delight even non-musicians. Who knows? The stately aura of some of these masterpieces might even inspire you to pick up piano lessons.
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 targeted at 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.
7. Lecture Concerts and Workshops
The Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments hosts several lecture concerts throughout the year. (additional fee payable) Even if you don’t speak Japanese, you could still enjoy the associated performances.
The museum also conducts various workshops yearly, such as 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?
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© 2019 Kuan Leong Yong