In being on the look out for nice Ukuleles I come across a few small, possibly part time luthiers from Japan who's Ukuleles I usually only see advertised for sale in music shops, and if they have any web presence it is in a language that is difficult for me to translate. Very often there is little information on them beyond a name and sometimes a brand name, however the instruments they make look very well made and worthy of note.
Hideho Kawakami - Majesty
He was a long time employee of K Yairi Guitars and worked on a number of famous international musicians Guitars before setting up a workshop in Kani, Gifu Prefecture and producing instruments including Soprano, Concert and Tenor Ukuleles under his own branding. He is also the father of Yusuke Kawakami and was his first luthiery teacher too. Father and son both worked on the Majesty brand until Yusuke went to Canada At some point after that he started branding some of his Ukuleles Kawakami as well as still making some Majesty Ukuleles too?
Kazuhisa Mori - Makani
He seems to call his Ukulele making company M's Craft as well and I believe he is the son of Takayuki Mori of M's Craft Kai and this might have something to do with it? He makes Soprano, Concert and Tenor scales, plus Guitars and is very fond of inlaid fret boards - and rightly so, in 2008 he was runner up in the Ukulele Guild of Hawaii best inlay section. This success seems to have been the spur for him to become a professional luthier.
As the website is in Japanese I may have some details wrong however from what I can work out he trained as a fashion designer and after 25 years working this this industry he gave it up, went to Hawaii and learned the art of Ukulele luthiery. He then returned to Japan and started his own brand. He seems to use a gecko picture along with the name in the branding and the branding is sometimes reduced to Kai. He makes Soprano, Concert and Tenor scale models plus Supersopranos and Superconcerts, and I have see Lili'u's made by him too. All of the models are custom but a couple of themes he has repeated is very large cutaways and lots of inlay - especially on the fretboard. He also makes custom Teddy bears and I believe he is the father of Kazuhisa Mori.
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