A Japanophile who has survived 15 solo trips to Japan. Ced's visits focus on discovering the country’s lesser-known attractions.
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 this fascinating 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.
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.
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.
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 these instruments actually sound like.
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 their electronic music 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.
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And if you play a Japan-made instrument, as I do, you will surely be thrilled by the heritage models on display. 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.
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.
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.
7. Lecture Concerts and Workshops
The Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments hosts lecture concerts throughout the year. (Additional fee payable) Even if you don’t speak Japanese, you could still enjoy the associated concert performances.
As like other leading museums in Japan, the museum 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?
Appendix: Other Noteworthy Hamamatsu Attractions
Though a major stop on the Tokaido Shinkanesen Line, Hamamatsu is seldom on the itineraries of international visitors. This doesn’t mean there are few attractions to enjoy, though.
Hamamatsu Castle: Though a post-WWII concrete reconstruction, the hilltop location of Hamamatsu Castle, and its compact size, make for an enjoyable day trip.
Hamamatsu Flower Park: One of the most famous flower parks of Japan, this expansive attraction is home to some 3,000 plant species. It is also famous for its “Crystal Palace” greenhouse.
Hamamatsu Air Park: Are you a fan of Japanese military aircraft? This aviation museum and airpark, with its many life-size displays, will fascinate you.
Lake Hamana: Beautiful Lake Hamana has several attractions at its Northeastern shore, one of which is the above-mentioned Hamamatsu Flower Park. There’s also a sightseeing ropeway, and an amusement park.
© 2019 Ced Yong