Post wwii Asian Ukuleles click for more

In rebuilding Japanese industry after WWII but for peaceful purposes, one avenue that was exploited was the manufacture of musical instruments (Gakki apparently means musical Instrument in Japanese?). Pre-War there had been a few well respected makers like Suzuki, so there was some skill available and it must have seemed like a safe idea - Until it killed Chicago (and a lot of other US) manufacturing!

Once in business, distributors found that giving the Ukuleles they produced Western Brand names was a better way to sell them, (somewhat similar to Chinese brands of today). Sometimes, with the older, long standing ones like T&D or B&J, they used old brand names they had used on Chicago made Ukuleles before the war. I have read that there were 80 firms started in Japan in the late 50's and early 60's to service the fretted chordophone boom but by 1970 50 of them had gone bankrupt! As far as I can see the same brand name may have been given to Ukuleles from a number of factories and each factory may have produced a number of brands, including some branded with their own Japanese name. This post war production was primarily Sopranos and Baritones, (I've only seen a couple of Concerts and Tenors), and mainly from Japan, with a few examples coming from other countries in the region. The Ukuleles themselves vary in quality from very low end to fairly high quality and some of these brands are now well respected internationally as makers.

Maruha (Gakki)

This is a firm where information is scarce. What I can find is it was located in the city of Kurume, Fukuoka, and starting in 1948 made primarily acoustic Guitars, but also made Mandolins and Ukuleles too. There is a second branding F. Hashimoto in Japan that is associated with it and In the US I have seen them branded Domino, however I have only seen this on Guitars not other instruments. What I have heard but been unable to verify is it was founded by Mr Fumio Hashimoto and continued in business until the 1980's, (certainly past 1978, the Guitars were all dated and I have seen one with this date). They apparently built some acoustic Guitar bodies for Teisco and Guyatone as well as their own products.

Shiro Musical Instruments

They produced instruments branded Shiro, St. George and may have produce instruments branded Pleasant This may not be all the brands they made, I haven't seen all of these names on Ukuleles and they may not have been the only firm producing them?

Tokyo Trading Co

From the name I would guess they were a distributor rather than a manufacturer? However they used the Romance brand name and on the sound hole label it say "manufactured by Tokyo Trading Co" I could stick my neck out with a guess that they were based in Tokyo too?

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