JOURNEY TO JAPAN
From The 12th to the 18th of October 2013, my nephew José Enrique and I travelled to Japan. We were invited by my distributors, Arai Company. They have been representing our guitars for more than 55 years, led by Mr Shiro Arai. Due to the fact that a new team is replacing the management of the firm, we were invited to visit their country to reinforce our relationship. And we also wanted to introduce them to the fifth generation of Ramirez, José Enrique, although this time Cristina didn’t travel with us, as she was representing us in Shanghai.
It was certainly a really positive and promising experience, as we could see for ourselves the professionalism of the new team, as well as their enthusiasm and fidelity towards our guitars. It was also marvelous to relate to contact to guitar players, professionals and amateurs that appreciate our guitars and keep them with great care and respect.
We spent the first two days in Tokyo, where we visited several shops. Enrique and I gave a talk about the Ramírez family in Yamano Music Co., where Mr. Masahiro had prepared a space for us; there, Mr. Masahiro Masuda enjoyed us playing some pieces with his Ramírez guitar. Our visit to Aura was also memorable, we were received by Mr. Kiyohisha Motoyama, we had the pleasure to know him from long ago, and he had organized a really pleasant event. First, Mr. Takayuki Azuma – friend and disciple of Manuel Babiloni – played several pieces for the audience that had gathered in the hall to receive us, after that, we went to another room where José Enrique and I talked again about our family of guitar makers and we made a demonstration of how to make a handcraft mosaic. We were showed the Ramírez guitars that some of the assistants had brought in order to revise and check whether they needed some adjustment or not. And the surprise-present came in the hands of the owner of the guitar that my brother, José Ramírez IV, had constructed and that Andrés Segovia had played during the last days of his life. This is a long and beautiful story, and I have written a special and long article about that. The important thing here is the happiness we felt when we found that guitar, and the pride reflected in the eyes of Enrique when he held this historic guitar that his father had made. Finally, we ended the day having dinner in Shabu-Shabu and enjoying the company of great people.
We also went to Gendai Guitar, there, we greeted the president, Mr. Kazuhida Kurata, and Mr. Seiichi Nakazato, the editor-in-chief, he made us a long and interesting interview in which we talked about several topics.
During our stay in Tokyo we also visited other shops, Yamaha Ginza, Rock Inn Shinjyuku and Kurosawa, we met their managers and salesmen and we took pictures with them. Sadly, in Kurosawa we could only visit one of the shops, but we had to cancel our dinner with Mr. Kurosawa because we had to move forward the trip to Nagoya we had scheduled for the next morning, as the typhoon would go over Tokyo just when we were going to take the Bullet Train, so we took a train that night running away just in time from the typhoon, which was already announcing its arrival with a hard rain and dark skies even during the day.
The reencounter with Shiro Arai in Nagoya was really exciting, I know him for a lifetime and I really appreciate him. We went to Casa Ramírez, where we received the guests to the “Wine Party” they had organized; we had Jabugo ham, sheep cheese and Spanish wine, in an interesting gastronomic syncretism with Japanese starters. Miss. Kazzumi Yoshida made Shiro and me a lovely portrait, and during the celebration they played different guitars that they exhibit in Casa Ramírez, Mr. Mitsuo Yoshimoto played the Vino Guitar, and Mr. Yasuo Sakai, president of the Central Japan Guitar Association, played the guitar played by Segovia in 1967.
We also visited Muse, a lovely shop. Its owner, Mr. Takahiro Yamashita, has created a very professional space; it is exclusively dedicated to the guitar, with a concert hall with very good acoustics and a room to give lessons. We wish we could have something similar in our shop in Madrid, and we hope we can create it someday.
Due to an unexpected emergency that came up, we had to bring our come back to Madrid forward, so we had to cancel one of the visits we had scheduled for the last day, and move forward some other visits planned for Osaka and Kyoto. In Osaka, we visited Yamaha and MikkiGakki, and in Kyoto we were in Jeugia Apex. We were always guided by Mr. Yoshimura, Mr. Kawanchi and Mr. Kasai, from Arai Company; they were nice and excellent mates during our whole stay.
We finished our journey visiting an impressive Buddhist temple at dawn, an unforgettable experience that was a perfect ending to our journey with the best of energies and good memories.