Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 34

DISTINCTIVE
JAPANOCENTRICITY
The Teisco J-5
BY MICHAEL WRIGHT
THE DIFFERENT STRUMMER

F

or many who adore vintage solidbodies, the story of
Japanese guitars is understandably Amero-centric.
After all, the United States was the largest market and
the engine that drove the Japanese guitar-making
machine. The tale begins in the early '60s and follows an arc through the copy guitars of the '70s
to superstrats of the '80s before the torch was
passed to Korea. Turn the lens toward Japan,
though, and one will discover a wealth of characteristic guitar designs quite independent
of American expectations.
The U.S. introduced modern Western instruments
to Japan in the mid 19th century. Japan had been
closed off from virtually all Western influences since
the 1630s, when its rulers reacted to Christian missionaries brought to the islands by the Portuguese
and Father Francis Xavier beginning in 1549. After
an aggressive purge, Japan was put into "Seclusion"
during which no Japanese could leave the islands
without express government permission, and all
foreigners were restricted to a small island off the
port of Nagasaki, through which all trade passed.
Then, in 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry sailed
into Tokyo harbor with a fleet of steam-powered
gunboats and explained how Japan was suddenly
open for trade. Perry's fleet included a minstrel troupe
that played guitars and banjos. Subsequent involvement with sugar cultivation in Hawaii, plus Andrés
Segovia's tour of Japan in 1929 greatly enhanced the
Japanese musical taste for guitars. Japanese production
of acoustic guitars began in the 1930s.
Then came World War II, Hiroshima, Allied occupation
under General Douglas MacArthur, and reconstruction.
The presence of American and Allied soldiers combined
with natural inclinations abetted the creation of a guitar

VINTAGE GUITAR

34

March 2018


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 3
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