7 Reasons to Visit the Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments

Updated on July 11, 2019
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.

The Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments is a must-visit for all music lovers in Japan.
The Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments is a must-visit for all music lovers in Japan.

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.

The overhead walkway from Hamamatsu Station leads directly to the second floor of the museum.
The overhead walkway from Hamamatsu Station leads directly to the second floor of the 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 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.

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 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.

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

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.

Japanese-made music keyboards, both old and new.
Japanese-made music keyboards, both old and new.

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.

The graceful piano and its predecessors.
The graceful piano and its predecessors.

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.

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 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.

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

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?

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 Kuan Leong Yong

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      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        2 weeks 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 

        2 weeks ago from Maryland, United States of America

        This looks fascinating.

      • CYong74 profile imageAUTHOR

        Kuan Leong Yong 

        2 weeks 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

        Kuan Leong Yong 

        2 weeks 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 

        2 weeks 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 

        2 weeks ago from UK

        This is a great guide to an interesting museum.

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