Kiwaya are a Japanese manufacturer founded in 1919 by Kiwaya Shokai. After the "Ukulele Craze" of the post war occupation in Japan they persevered with Ukuleles and are now arguably, Japan's foremost Ukulele manufacturer. They have a reputation for producing high quality Soprano, Concert and Tenor scale instruments and well as running a proper Ukulele museum. As well as producing Ukuleles under their own name the also appear to own a number of other brand names and they are a major distributor of other quality brands within Japan. To add to my difficulty in understanding the makeup of this business there is a website for the export market and another for the local market in Japanese that is much larger with a lot more product ranges but it looks like those Ukuleles branded Kiwaya are only for export as this site doesn't feature them?
Because, with some of the brands, I am unsure if they own/produce or just distribute? I will list them separately
This appears to be the main brand in Japan and there is part I can't translate that says Kiwaya started the brand in 1955. The current catalogue consists of Soprano and Concert models, (with their long neck options and some thin bodied "travel" options in the standard range), in standard or fine grade all made in Japan. In the past though, there have been Sopraninos, Tenors, extra fine limited editions and Taropatches with this branding and it is the case that some of the lesser models are made for Kiwaya by Mituba Gakki
This appears to be the main export brand and there are clearly some Ukuleles that are branded in both this and the Famous catalogue, however this is a bigger range and does include Tenors and an extra level of quality, (Kiwaya levels come as Eco, Artist and Master), it doesn't include long neck Concerts though. These again are all made in Japan.
In 2010 Kiwaya USA changed its company name to Takumi and from what I can find out I am unsure if Takumi owns Kiwaya, Kiwaya owns Takumi or they are completely separate companies with just Takumi being Kiwaya's US distributor? What I do know though is in 2011 Takumi launched a range of Concert Ukuleles in koa and mahogany that were apparently designed by Yusuke Kawakami, (and presumably made by Kiwaya). This range has been expanded to include Sopranos and Tenors, (oddly though it doesn't appear on its own website?)
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