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How Yamaha Started?

Yamaha Corporation is the world's largest digital and acoustic piano manufacturer.

Yamaha Corporation has been offering its customers several products and services for 131 years.

Some of the products offered by this corporation are as follows, musical instruments, audio equipment, and its subsidiary Yamaha Motors.

The Founder

The founder of Yamaha is Torakusu Yamaha, a Japanese businessman and entrepreneur.

In 1871, Torakusu went to Nagasaki and started studying watchmaking under the guidance of an English engineer.

After a few years of training, Torakusu became an expert in watchmaking and later became interested in medical equipment.

Torakusu then moved to Osaka to study medical equipment, where he lived behind a medical equipment store.

In March 1902, Torakusu received the Medal of Honor with Green Ribbon. Torakusu also served as a director of Hamamatsu Railway.

In 1911, Torakusu was elected to the Hamamatsu City Council and appointed as the Vice Chairman of the council.

How Yamaha Was Created

Nippon Gakki Co. Ltd. now known as Yamaha Corporation was established in 1887 as a reed organ manufacturer in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture and was incorporated on October 12, 1897. In 1900 the company started the production of pianos.

The inspiration for this is due to a local primary school, Jinjou Elementary School where Torakusu lived at and they asked him to fix their broken organ, as they did not have anyone who was qualified to fix one.

Accepting the offer, Torakusu soon discovered the cause of the problem, which was two broken springs, and studied the springs with the intent of producing them himself.

Torakusu also received financial help from Toyasaku Fukushima, the director of Hamamatsu Hospital. Torakusu then started the project in a one-room workshop with the help of a colleague from the medical equipment work

In 1887, two months after the project started, Torakusu and his colleague produced the first Japanese-made reed organ.

He then presented the instrument to a music university, professors at the university said the instrument was badly conceived. Torakusu was then allowed to attend lectures about different theories of music at the university for a month.

After that, Torakusu built the second organ in the remaining two months of the year. It was as good as those from overseas. Shortly after, he received an order for seven organs, including that for the governor of Shizuoka Prefecture.

First Piano

The first piano to be made in Japan was an upright built-in 1900 by Yamaha

Just two years later, the Nippon Gakki factory made its first grand piano. During this early period, the company focused on manufacturing instruments for the Japanese market, where interest in Western classical music was still quite new.

In 1904, Torakusu sent one of his pianos to the St. Louis World’s Fair, where it received an Honorary Grand Prize.

By the 1920s, Yamaha craftsmen were regularly traveling overseas to gain knowledge of the latest European piano production techniques.

In 1926, the company invited Ale Schlegel, an expert piano technician from Germany, to visit with the craftsmen at the Nippon Gakki facilities in Hamamatsu, Japan, and discuss piano making in deep detail.

Schlegel’s advice helped them make a much-improved product.

Yamaha In WW2

During World War 2, they manufactured aircraft propellers and other equipment, but halted production after Japan’s surrender.

The machining equipment was kept and maintained at the company’s evacuation center in Shizuoka Prefecture so they could resume use at any time.

In 1952, Japan’s sovereignty was restored. Company president Genichi Kawakami was searching for ways to put the company’s machining equipment to good use.

They decided that Nippon Gakki would enter the motorcycle business. The idea was that if the company could effectively utilize its existing facilities and equipment, it could surpass even European manufacturing quality.

The company’s engineers used one of the top-class motorcycles at the time from German manufacturer DKW as a reference for their research and prototype trials.

In August 1954, less than ten months after development began, the first 125cc prototype of the “YA-1” was complete.

The factory was renamed the “Hamana Factory” and became the company’s dedicated motorcycle manufacturing facility. Full-on motorcycle production began in earnest in December that same year.

The YA-1’s starting system was a type that allowed the user to kickstart the engine no matter what gear the transmission was in by disengaging the clutch.

The team also developed a 4-speed gearbox for the machine instead of using the original 3-speed.

In 1955, the success of the YA-1 resulted in the founding of Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd., splitting the motorcycle division from the company.

Yamaha’s Technical School

The Yamaha Technical School was established in March 1961. Its objective was to teach basic knowledge and technology to employees of Nippon Gakki and YMC over the course of two years.

Responding to the requirements of the times, the Yamaha Technical Training Institute and Yamaha Technical High School were established in 1963 and 1973, respectively, in order to train mid-level technical personnel at production facilities.

Although an adequate operating base had yet to be established when the company was first founded, efforts were devoted to developing a research system for quality assurance and technological innovation.


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