|Birth||January 5, 1886|
|Death||October 5, 1955|
The founder of Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Co.,Ltd.
He was called Hatsumei Koichi (literally, Inventor Koichi). Since age 12, he worked on building Japan’s first piano under Yamaha Torakusu, and he succeed on assembling a complex mechanism of piano, an action.
On January 5, 1886, he was born as the first son of Taniyoshi, a poor wagon maker who liked his drink, in Sugawara-cho.
Taniyoshi was the one invented the special spinning wheel to make threads used for Hamamatsu’s unique kites.
Koichi was a bratty kid. Although he wasn’t good at reading and writing, he was outstanding in math.
He built a model wagon in his father’s workplace after his father died at the age of 30.
His skills on crafting allowed him to work for Yamaha Torakusu from age 11. Yamaha supported him to develop his skill.
1903 The first piano with domestic made action was built.
1904 18 years old Kawai assembled a coupler, a mechanism of organ.
He also built toy pianos, an equipment to put valves in harmonicas, and an automated machine that produce black keys.
1905 The unique organ, which had eight ranks and eighteen stops, he presented at an exposition drew attention.
1916 Yamaha died, and 30 year old Kawai collapsed in tears.
1921 He visited abroad. When he came back, he started immediately to build a pipe organ.
1926 Kawai left Nihongakki Gaisha (Yamaha Corporation), as labor disputes caused Amano, the president of the company at the time, to resign. Many of the workers followed him.
1927 He found Kawai Gakki Kenkyūjō (Kawai Musical Instrument Research Laboratory) in his house at Terajima-cho. The company developed a cheap piano (five octaves) with basic functions, Showagata.
1928 The company released upright pianos and grand pianos.
Kawai received a patient for Jizai Action (literally, Universal Action).
1929 The company changed its name to Kawai Gakki Seisakujō (Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Co., Ltd.). They invented a new device for piano soundboards.
1930 He received patents from France.
1933 He received patents for a new piano action and a regulating apparatus of keyboards.
He presented a large piano to the Imperial House with honor.
1934 He received a patent for an invention on soundboard bridges.
1935 the company became a general partnership company.
He received a patent for a device to attach reeds to harmonicas.
1937 They began producing airplane parts for an airplane manufacturing company, Nakajima Hikōki Seisakujō.
1951 As he received Medal of Honor with Blue Ribbon, he reported this to Yamaha Torakusu’s grave. The governor of Shizuoka Prefecture also awarded him same year.
1955 Because the company was troubled by fires, it built a factory with reinforced concrete structure.
1955 He died at age of 70 on October 5. Kenkai Shrine, located in Higashi-iba, enshrines him.
1956 Employees and people related to him build his statue.
It stands at the entrance of the company.
He had a wife and three daughters.
He was a stout man with height of 1.57m.
He didn’t have hobbies.
He studied and examined the sounds an organ made. This is because he believed that one has to understand the mechanism of music to make a perfect musical instrument. He could sight-play the piano.
He played two traditional songs (Echigojisi and Sanjūsangendō) when Prince Fushimi made a visit to the factory of Nihon Gakki (Yamaha).
Once he decided to do something, he would never give until he fulfills it.
Cenotaphs of those died in war stand at the entrance of his company.
He told his employee to make the instruments to have sounds of spirits. Input souls to each instrument you make because the souls would be the life of the instruments and will always make sounds of spirits, he said.
“Enshū Ijinden Daiikkan” (Stories of Great Figures of Enshū vol.1)
“Nihon no Piano 100 Nen” (100 Years of Japanese Piano)
“Piano Zukuri ni Kaketa Hitobito” (People Who Dedicated to Piano Manufacture)
“Enshū Kikai Kinzoku Kōgyō Hattenshi” (History of Enshū’s Machinery and Metal Indusry)
Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
Grand Piano Ryūyō Factory