Kiwaya Kiwaya Website

modern japanese kiwaya Luna ls4 soprano ukulele
2010's Luan Soprano
 1950 japan luna 350 soprano ukulele
1950's Luna Soprano
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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 certainly have a reputation for producing high quality Soprano, Concert and Tenor scale instruments and 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

Luna

Luna Gakki were founded in Okayama in 1936 and through the 1940's 50's and 60's were a major independent and separate Japanese manufacturer, probably the most popular in Japan, apparently doing enough local business to not be involved with the OEM manufacture that was being carried out Japan at the time; though there was a company called Rhythm Band Inc. of Fort Worth Texas that imported them under the Luna branding to the US.
Back in Japan the Okayama factory burned down in the second half of the 1960's, (I have read 1966?) but by this time they had expanded with offices in Tokyo and Yokohama as well, so they survived the fire, however this fire combined with the waning popularity of the Ukulele was the beginning of the end for Luna Gakki. Production of Luna Ukuleles was now carried out, I believe, by Mituba Gakki and at some point Luna Gakki stopped production altogether. Kiwaya took over the name, (presumably they brought it? but I don't know when?), and now produce a range of Ukuleles largely for the Japanese market using it.
Also it should be noted that in the 1960's Luna put "model by Kamaka" on the box for their Pineapple but this was a poor translation and they meant it was a copy of the Kamaka Pineapple idea, not that it was in any way meant to be a fake of an actual Kamaka).
This brand is nothing to do with Armadillo Enterprises Luna branded Ukuleles and other fretted Chordophones

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