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Fudaiji was a komusō temple in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture. Among the honkyoku transmitted there were Hon Shirabe (or Chōshi), and Kyorei. After the Fuke sect was abolished in 1871, the temple was used as an elementary school.


Around the 18th year of Meiji (1885), an organ was installed by the school, purchased from America for the grand sum of 45 yen (equivalent to nearly $500,000 AUD nowadays). It broke after about six months, and remained so until a watchmaker was called in to repair it. After inspecting the organ, he found that the problem originated from several malfunctioning springs. While he went about the task of repairing the organ, he also surmised that he could build an organ for only 3 yen (equivalent to nearly $35000 AUD). 


The watchmaker enlisted the help of a local hotelier, who supplied materials and tools. They also received assistance from several other people; in particular, a fishmonger, whose hobby was shamisen, advised them on tuning. An atelier in the school was set aside, and the watchmaker built an organ based on blueprints he had drawn up from the organ that he had repaired. When the organ was completed and presented to the teachers at the school in 1887, they were told it sounded a bit strange. One might say the tuning was fishy.


So, with the components of the disassembled organ carried on poles over their shoulders, the watchmaker and the hotelier made the 270km haul up to Tokyo, and, unannounced and without an appointment, dropped in to a music school (which would later become the music department at Tokyo Geidai). The principal confirmed that the tuning was faulty, and offered to teach the two men music theory for a month so that they could understand why their instrument was out of tune and correct the problem themselves. It took four months of hard work to retune the organ.


Nowadays, the organ is on display at Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments. The watchmaker, Torakusu Yamaha, went on to found Nippon Gakki Kaisha which later became known as Yamaha. The original Yamaha brand was a phoenix with a tuning fork in its mouth; these days, it features three crossed tuning forks. The hotelier, Kisaburo Kawai, had a cousin, Koichi, who founded Kawai Musical Instruments in 1927. 


The elementary school was still an elementary school up until 2017. Nothing remains of Fudaiji.

©2020 L. Dugan

Lindsay Dugan



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