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.
Originally a musician he took up luthiery in 2009 to supplement his income, (I believe he teaches Ukulele too). He makes Concert, Tenor and Baritone scale Ukuleles plus a kind of Pineapple he calls the Rice Ukulele, (don't know why but I have also seen resonator versions of this), and some Banjoleles.
Based in Hakodate, Hokkaido he makes Soprano, Concert and Tenor scale Ukuleles starting in 2005. His Ukuleles come in a variety of woods, can have slot or flat heads, zero frets sometimes but always have bone saddles and a carbon fiber rod in the neck. I have seen a 5 string double G Tenor model but no other string options no pineapples and not other body shapes; I have see some imaginative sound holes though including a map of the Japanese islands in the same vein as some people do with the Hawaiian isles. In 2013 he started making a Tenor model with no top soundhole and a piezo pickup he called "Desire". I have seen suggestions of other model names too like Kaiser and J Storm but I'm not sure they are right there is no mention of them I can see on the website?
Yutaira Terasawa - Tsubame
He is based in Yokohama and from what I can gather of his history, he went to guitar making classes in the late 1990's while working as a Greengrocer then going on to make archtop Guitars under the brand name Yutaira. By his own admission these weren't very good and when a friend asked him to make a Ukulele in 2003 he switched production to Ukuleles I believe from the translators that at this time he branded his Ukuleles Swallow. I have seen Sopranos, including Pineapples and Tenors models from him but his main output appears to be Concerts and from what I have seen he only builds on spec and does not take orders(? there use to be a proper website around 2009 but it is gone now and I can see no method of contacting him directly to put in an order?) His Ukuleles have a very individual two part saddle and often feature a golpeador; he is also fond of cutouts on the headstock though there is no headstock logo and some harking back to the archtop days with some archtop features, like backs, on some of his models. He says he only builds a dozen or so instruments a year and he appears to be one of those luthiers that likes to name the individual instruments
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