THE STORY BEHIND YAMAHA

Yamaha’s history began when its founder, Torakusu Yamaha, repaired a broken reed organ in 1887. Shortly thereafter, he successfully completed the first reed organ to be built in Japan.

The Yamaha brand trademark, YAMAHA, comes from the name of our founder Torakusu Yamaha who pioneered the production of Western musical instruments in Japan. Born to a family of a Kishu Tokugawa (today’s Wakayama Prefecture) clansman, Torakusu was captivated by Western science and technology from early on.

logo_yamaha_corp

Current logo – Yamaha Corporation

Fascinated by the watches that were gaining popularity in Osaka at the time, he took up watchmaking, studying business along the way. Over time, Torakusu began repairing medical equipment and was invited to visit a hospital in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture.

On one occasion, the principal of Hamamatsu’s Jinjo elementary school (currently Motoshiro Elementary school) asked him if he would try to repair a reed organ. He agreed and was able to repair it successfully, marking the first step toward the birth of the Yamaha brand. Recognising its business potential, while repairing the organ, Torakusu created a blueprint for the inside of the organ, later creating his own prototype organ. To deliver it to the then Music Institute (today’s Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music), Torakusu slung his creation over his shoulder on a carrying pole and crossed the mountains of Hakone. This historic trek was later immortalised as a bas-relief (see above – centre).

Reed Organ

Yamaha’s first reed organ

The organ, however, was criticised for its poor tuning. Undaunted, and restarting from zero, Torakusu began studying music theory and tuning. After four months of seemingly endless struggles from early morning to late at night, he was finally able to complete the organ. It is easy to see how he came up with the concept of the tuning fork mark, inspired by the difficult experience of studying tuning while holding a tuning fork in his hand.

History of Logo

Original Tuning Fork Logo - 1898

Original Tuning Fork Logo from 1898

In 1898, one year after the establishment of Nippon Gakki Co., Ltd., forerunner of today’s Yamaha Corporation, the Company decided to use a tuning fork as the corporate mark, and a design featuring a “Chinese phoenix holding a tuning fork in its mouth” as the trademark. After undergoing a variety of changes paralleling the growth of the Company, the tuning fork mark and the Yamaha Logo was finally standardised.

About the Tuning Fork Mark

The tuning fork was invented by John Shore (1662-1751). It is composed of a handle attached to the centre of a U-shaped steel rod. By striking the rod, sound is created, and the frequency of the resulting vibrations per second is used as a standard for tuning a musical instrument. The three tuning forks of the Yamaha Logo represent the cooperative relationship that links the three pillars of Yamaha’s business: technology, production, and sales. They also evoke the robust vitality that has forged the company’s reputation for sound and music the world over, a territory signified by the enclosing circle. The mark also symbolises the three essential musical elements: melody, harmony, and rhythm.