Listen to “Miraculous Piano” in Kakunodate

Listen to “Miraculous Piano” in Kakunodate
Japan-Akita-Kakunodate-the Miraculous Piano-poster
The poster of the Miraculous Piano concerts

[ May 2019 ] When we were walking in Kakunodate in Akita prefecture, Japan, in the evening, a poster caught my eyes.

It says “Miraculous Piano” in big letters and there was a calendar for the concerts.

We were attracted to this name, so looked at the details and found that there was a concert in the morning of the next day.

It was free.

So we went to listen to it at Hirafuku Memorial Gallery the next day.

According to our guidebook, this gallery was built for the memory of the father and son masters of modern Japanese painting, who were born in Kakunodate.

The father is Suian Hirafuku and the son is Hyakusui Hirafuku.

Their paintings are exhibited in this gallery, as well as other paintings related to Kakunodate.

It says that the building is in northern European style, but I’m sorry to say, but for me it reminded me of graves in Italy.

Anyway, when we entered, we found there was a brownish piano and chairs in the hall near the entrance.

A person in charge came up to the front and explained this Miraculous Piano.

Japan-Akita-Kakunodate-Hirafuku Memorial Gallery
Hirafuku Memorial Gallery

According to her, a primary school in Jindai-mura village near Kakunodate bought a ground piano, spending about 70% of their educational budget, in 1954.

54 years later in 2008, they found this piano, which had not been used for 5 years, in the storage of the auditorium.

The paint was already peeling and there were many scratches on the surface and it did not sound good at the time.

But when they started playing it, after they had decided to throw it away, gradually it started to sound fine.

The piano manufacturer, Yamaha, was just about to come and pick it up when they decided to keep it.

Japan-Akita-Kakunodate-the Miraculous Piano-cherry bark
The piano with cherry bark

The group of volunteers, called ‘Oto o Tanoshimu Kai (the association for enjoying sounds)’ thought of putting the cherry bark works, the traditional handicraft in Kakunodate, on the piano.

They talked with the artisan Masami Takahashi.

He happened to have had a huge cherry bark, which had been kept for about 30 years for him to make a large object, so this project was set to start.

A local tenor, Takehisa Honda, and a pianist, Toshiyuki Torii, repeated their concerts to raise money for this project and finally, in 2010, this piano with the cherry bark was done and revived.

Probably this is the only piano with cherry bark in the world.

Japan-Akita-Kakunodate-Miraculous Piano-Junko Taguchi
Junko Taguchi at the concert

It is an interesting story but I think the person who started calling it ‘Miraculous Piano’ was the cleverest one, because it attracts many people.

On the day, the pianist was Junko Taguchi, who graduated from Musashino Academia Musicae in Tokyo and now teaches within Akita prefecture.

She played 6 pieces of Chopin, Saint-Saens and Debussy.

I thought the latter ones were good, but my sister, who herself is a pianist, was critical.

Well, it was a free concert…

They were collecting donations for maintaining this piano, so I gave 200 yen.