last modified  December 28, 2004  

  addition to our postcard collection in Museum Page >>
Reed Organ Club Japan, founded in August 1996, is the unique club in Japan the members of which varie from professional organists, repairers, musicologists to music amateurs.
History of this instrument in Japan goes back to 1860s when nobody knew what the organ was. Japanese people accepted Reedorgan initially introduced by christian missionary, as Organ. This is the way Bach organ music arranged for reedorgan came trad there.
Thumming up its history, there is one hand reedorgan as an accompaniment of church service (the mission seems not satisfactory for their efforts), other hand reedorgan as a music companion in elementary school. "A symbol of modernization (samurai Nippon was metamorphosing into modern Japan) and of occidental culture" is guaranteed the golden age for reedorgan. 
It is worth mentioning Yamaha, known as a top builder of piano, founded as one of pioneers in Japan of reedorgan manufacture.  Elementary school education system started there in 1872.  Government of modern Japan chose reedorgan for the official instrument to accompany singing (music came obligatory), so a huge market came prepared for reedorgan manufacture including Yamaha, Nishikawa, Kawai and so on.  They were expected to lead Japanese industry so that they played actually an important role there.
Reedorgan there has initially been contented with accompaniment... Yes, it's true however one should remember that this instrument was the leading spirit of Japanese modern music called Shoka (Japanese <Lied>) prepared for the music education in elementary school.  Both pupils and teachers had to be familiar with western music supported by the harmony the notion of which no one had been known there.  American protestant church hymn servece (unison singing accompanied by an reedorgan) said to be the model of Japanese modern music.  A series of hymn melodies were chosen and given new words (to praise the Emperor, admire the splendor of nature, etc.) in Japanese.  New generation of Japanese composers like Rentaro TAKI, Kousaku YAMADA, etc. seems strongly influenced by Shoka and intimate with reedorgan so as to compose and enrich to the extreme the repertoire of Shoka.  Together with music, Japanese language met also the turning point of its style.  Leading poets gave willingly the words to Shoka melody.  Music of quality, Shoka seems to be one of the highest points of Japanese music repertoire from the first half of the 20th century.  Please note the special role of School in Japan: school had been diffusing new music over thousands of islands before the music media came popular there.
Everything has its end.  After more than 50 years of golden age, reedorgan saw the sign of its decline.  Radio, television and music record took the place of school as media.  They needed new music different from Shoka regarded that time as out-of-date one.  Economical developement created the market of piano and electronic organ both of which were sent out by the same manufactures of reedorgan on the other hand Japanese small houses cannot provide any space for the second keyboard instrument.  This results in a kind of expulsion of reedorgan by its own manufactures.  It desappeared day by day from schools, churchs and living rooms.  Yamaha, the last manufacture of this instrument in Japan closed in 2001 the line of its production.  Reedorgan thus came sublimed into a history.
Our club intends to tell Japanese people notably young people who don't know the golden age of reedorgan, a rich repertory of music deeply associated with this instrument and explain its contribution to modern Japanese music.  We intend also to repair dozens of historical instruments taken good care of by their proprietary.  We are ready to teach proper method of reedorgan playing, to organize concerts.
Our club does not intend to intermediate any international trade of reedorgan.  We're sorry not to reply to your e-mail proposing abovementioned trade.  Thank you in advance for your comprehension.

copyright 2004 Reed Organ Club, Japan