TOKAI FACTORY VISIT - September 2002
Hello, my name is Luis and I live in Spain.
Well over a month ago I was lucky enough to have been invited by Mr. Adachi, President of the musical instrument Companies of Tokai Gakki, to visit the assembly plant to which I have resolved to publicly thank him. The assembly plant is situated in the outskirts of the city of Hamamatsu, a very industrial city of around 250,000 inhabitants and approx. 400km south of Tokyo.
On the way to the plant I observed the factory for Kawai
pianos and it was commented to me that the Yamaha factory was also nearby.
It seems Hamamatsu is a city with a grand musical tradition. Itís no easy
task getting to the Tokai factory, there are no existing signs but thanks
to the graciousness of the locals I arrived there without problems. In
reality Tokai Gakki Co. Ltd are two buildings - one for the design &
final assembly and the other for the process of cuts from Master-copy,
guitar constructions, painting and shop distribution.
It was in the first building that Mr. Adachi
was to receive me. Upon my arrival, I was reunited with his Associates in
an area titled "Tokai Research." I really started from the end
because I witnessed the final assembly & the finishing first and how
they mounted the tablets & the electronics. There were not more than
15 people working there.
From there we traveled about 5 min by car to the second building where the Companies offices are. Its curious, but the only certainty that you have arrived at the Tokai plant is a small plaque with a green background with the "TOKAI" logo, but itís a distinct logo, different to the actual ones on the instruments and obviously nothing to do with the first logos. Here is where you find the real heart of the Company & the center of all its operations. When you open the door and walk into the wide room you see two CNC machines that cut and shape the bodies & necks, exactly as it is on the webpage for Guitar Universe, Japan.
Despite these two machines, I have to say that majority of the work is still hand made by real people. This again drew my attention to how few employees are working here. Now I understood why Tokai produces so few instruments (I believe I heard Mr. Adachi mention around 450 a week.) compared to other companies. This, combined with their motto "QUALITY BEFORE QUANTITY" makes everything perfectly comprehensible. I estimate a staff of no more than 100 employees between the two buildings give or take a few. And speaking of the personnel that work for Tokai Gakki, what surprised me most was that they have lots of youths working along side the elder workers. Thus supporting the old saying: "The wise & the strong together make for the Company to march masterfully."
The woods used by Tokai for making its instruments are imported from Canada and India & they are stock piled for use in the second Stage. Mr. Adachi presented me to the Master Luthier, who at that moment was constructing a beautiful ES-335 which had a stupendous aspect. Mr. Adachi told me he is the most veteran member of the Company & he is the person who constructs the instruments of greatest prestige. Indubitably the antique Tokai instruments that some lucky few own, may well have been fabricated by this Man. Itís a shame I donít remember his name, I hope you can forgive my forgetfulness ( Japanese names are not too familiar to me).
From there we traveled to Stage 2 where we found the
gallery, this is where the painting & drying is done. There were
several painted bodies waiting to dry presumably to be sent to the final
assembly area. I saw a row of precious Celeste Blue guitars
There finished my visit to the plant. Itís a shame I could not see the construction of the acoustic guitars. That will have to wait till the next visit.
I would like to thank my friend Peter Mac for the English translation of this report, to Ned for having created this internet site which has taught us a lot more about Tokai & especially to Mr.Shoei Adachi, President of Tokai Gakki Co Ltd for his hospitality and the patience shown to me at every moment .