Accordion History in Japan
Accordion History

HISTORY OF THE ACCORDION IN JAPAN

It is widely thought that the accordion was probably introduced to Japan by Sensuke Asahi, who gifted one to the Miho Shinto Temple in the Simone region in 1850. Syokichi Mazkichimaru did the same in 1867.

In 1887, the Japanese imported German diatonic accordions for the women of high society to play. In 1905, Russian war prisoners returned home, without their accordions. The Tanabe firm began manufacturing them, and travelling medical salesmen used the accordion to advertise their wares.

In 1931, the French film 'Sous les foits de Paris' was a huge success in Japan, and caused a demand for the Parisian accordion as heard on the soundtrack. Tambo created an accordion model with a piano keyboard named "Paris", and other models were made with names such as "Bolero" and "Scala". These were later replaced by Japanese names such as "Chyasahima" (divine island) and "Daitoa" (great Asia). Many instrument workshops were converted into propeller factories during the war, and many pre-war instruments were destroyed by bombs.

In 1932, the Tambo firm began manufacturing diatonic accordions, followed three years later by Yamaha. Yamaha also produced chromatic accordions with piano keyboards, which were not widely imported.

The accordion became popular again after WWII and lasted until the mid 1950s. Cabarets, ballrooms and nightclubs flourished throughout the country, and numerous orchestras included the accordion. In Nagoya, there were many professional accordionists.

Today, Japanese are still fond of folk music, represented by the musette style and have arranged for French accordionists to tour their country.
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