|Birth||April 20, 1851|
|Death||August 8, 1916|
Yamaha Torakusu was the founder of Yamaha Corporation.
Yamaha was born as the third son of Takanosuke, a member of Kishū Domain. His father was an astronomer, but he was also capable to undertake cadastral surveys and engineering projects. When Torakusu was young, he wasn’t only good at crafting but also at Kendō (a Japanaese martial art). He moved to Osaka at the age of 21 because the family faced crisis after the Edo government was taken over by the Meiji government. He grew interested in pocket watches he encountered in the city. Hence, he walked to Nagasaki to study their mechanism for 2 years. Then, he returned to Osaka and became a well skilled repairer of medical appliances after two to three years working at a shop called Kawachi-ya.
The shop sent 32 year old Yamaha to Hamamatsu to repair devices in a hospital, Hamamatsu Byōin, which then stood in front of Gosha Shrine. He rented a small room in a hotel, Shimizu-ya, located in Itaya-machi, Nakaku. A public elementary school established then employed an organ for singing class. When the organ was broken, the school (present Motoshiro Elemtatry Sscool) asked Torakusu to repair it. He was 36 then. He determined to build an organ by himself with the blueprint of every parts of the instrument he sketched while he repaired it. Kawai Kisaburō, the owner of a hotel in Ike-machi called Komatsu-ya, helped him. He borrowed money to buy materials and tools for poor Yamaha. In addition, Fukushima Toyosaku, the director of the hospital, and Higuchi Rinjirō supported its development. An organ with 39 keys was created in two month. An owner of a fish shop in Sakana-machi, Ojima Yakichi whose hobby was playing the shamisen (a Japanese string), gave advice for its tuning. Yamaha carried the instrument on a pole to Tokyo to show it to the principal of Tokyo Music School (present Tokyo University of the Arts),Izawa Shūji. The principal didn't approve it due to its bad tuning. Hence, he studied tuning methods and built a well tuned organ.
In accordance with its good reputations, the instrument sold well. Three carpenters Kisaburō knew, such as Takamoto Kenjirō, joined with Yamaha. The workplace got crowded. Yamaha moved his production to a place behind Bodaiji Temple, which located in Naruko-cho. He well managed his ten employees to work according to time schedule and to practice Kendō during lunch break. After a year, the workplace moved to Hachiman-chi (present Asahi-cho) with more than fifty employees. Yamaha Fūkin Saizōjo (literally, Yamaha Organ Factory) established in 1887. The factory moved to the back of Hōonji Temple with more than 100 employee and stayed there for next 30 years. Same year, the organ it presented at the National Industrial Exhibition won a prize.
The shareholders' meeting in 1889 broke the company up. A stockholder from Osaka who also ran organ manufacturer himself schemed to put Yamaha out of business. Even though only Torakusu and Kisaburō stayed in the company, their organs kept growing in popularity. They undertook piano manufacturing and found Nippon Gakki Seizō (present Yamaha Corporation) in 1897. In 1899, the Ministry of Education sponsored Yamaha to visited US. In five months, he toured more than hundred piano factories studying knowledge, techniques, and facilities to manufacture the instrument. He returned to Japan with processing machines. Next year, 1990, the Japan's first piano was introduced. The organ and the piano the company displayed at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition won awards. Nippon Gakki became the largest manufacturer of pianos and organs in 1907. Around this period, Torakusu started apprenticeship programs, which contributed to the development of many well-skilled engineers. In 1911, he became the first vice president of city council of Hamamatsu.
He passed away at the age of 64 on August 8, 1916. Two months later, Kawai Kisaburō also died.
Even after the company grew big, he never became arrogant but always loved all his workers. When they were sick he used to visit them every day and add extra to their salary for medical expense.
“I don't play games on prices or try to make more profit than I should. I set the price according to the cost and will never look for excessive profits."
“Be responsible with the products' quality. If you sell assured products, people will trust you”
He was a compassionate and ingenuous man. Thus, he never forgot gratitude for Kisaburō. As he was rigorous, he hardly laugh with his family or talked anyone, even close friends, without manner.
"Enshū Ijinden Daiikkan" (Stories of Great Figures of Enshū vol.1)
"Hamamatsu Sangyōshi" (the History of Hamamatsu's Industry)
"Nihon no Piano 100 Nen/Piano Zukuri ni Kaketa Hitobito" (100 Years of Japanese Piano/People Who Dedicated to Piano Manufacture)
"Yamaha 100 Nen Shi” (100 Years History of Yamaha)
The company history book published by Nippon Gakki Seizō