My Japan Trip Escalated Quickly


Senior Member
Folks, sorry for starting a new thread but things became epic and I feel like some of you will appreciate what I have to share. Turns out Fender opened it's very first flagship store worldwide 2 weeks ago in Tokyo in a four-story building in Hajakuru (and there have been queues similar to Apple stores ever since).

What's even more crazy though - I always knew that my Japanese friend who I am staying with plays in a band with a great SRV-style guitar player named Shuhei. However, little did I know he's actually Japan's only official Fender guitar tech and on track to become Fender's first Asian Master Builder. So I got a personal invitation to Fender's backstage workshop for international Fender endorsers in Japan. So here's my story:

About 10 minutes from the flagship store in a random street, we arrived here:

And trust me, I did feel special lol

The first thing I see upon entering were body blanks signed by all of the most famous Japanese Fender/Jackson/Charvel/Gretsch guitar players out there.

But I did spot Scott Ian quickly (FYI - Pornograffitti was NOT Nuno as I was told haha). Btw - I did take a picture of a few guitars from famous people but I am not allowed to post them as per Shuhei's request. But one of them was a from a guy who recently had a reunion with his old band in Tokyo (you might know who ;-))

Then I took a quick photo with Shuhei - of course representing the big W (who he is a HUGE fan of btw)

Then we went to one of two rehearsal rooms which was filled with Acoustasonics (the other one was used for a meeting with a famous Youtuber unfortunately). Pretty much every famous Fender endorser who made it Japan has been here - we're talking John Mayer et al. For example, Cory Wong will be here next month.

I asked Shuhei about tone. He said 70% neck, 30% body. He refused to comment on pickups lol

and I got to play a prototype built by him for a famous Japanese endorser. Not my cup of tea kinda guitar but some of you might love it.

and then it was workshop time The Gretsch you see is from one of Japan's most famous guitar players.

Like a kid in Toys R Us
Interestingly (at least I didn't know that) - the neck blanks he gets from the Nagano factory are super rough. He uses a Yakuza-style knife to carve the wood for perfection.

All them necks...

Then of course fretting...

oh and before I forget. All the stars who go here, have a mirror to test the looks of the guitar for stage effect lol

then we went to the flagship store - a four-story monster of a guitar shop only dedicated to Fender. What's crazy and what I didn't like: they sell EVERYTHING there, including Jeans, button down shirts (for 300 USD), etc.

Now we're in the store. All of these guitars were prototyped by Shuhei. Disclaimer: I might have bought one lol

and finally just a random shot from the staircase.

What an amazing day!!! At the end, we went to Oshanimizu (the famous guitar street) but I have to say that globalization has taken over here. It's a crazy street given that it only has guitar stores but as a whole, it didn't offer much more than a big guitar store in Europe or the US. Here's a pic:

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Wonderful! PS Now, go out, drink a beer at a yakitori restaurant, go to an onsen, and see some temples and castles. Oh yeah, if you can go to a barber shop, I went to one in Okayama, nothing special, and got the best haircut and shave in my life, and no tip! I tried to give it and the barber refused. He took too much pride in his craft to accept more. PSS At least they have a street with Guitar stores, I really miss the old one in NYC. It's just a memory now.
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That's awesome! It's like how I remember, but back then there were a lot of things that you could get that were unheard of in Canada. I bought a Maxim OD pedal at one of those stores 30 years ago before anyone knew what it was ... wish I still had it :(
That's awesome! It's like how I remember, but back then there were a lot of things that you could get that were unheard of in Canada. I bought a Maxim OD pedal at one of those stores 30 years ago before anyone knew what it was ... wish I still had it :(
It's still very fascinating but you can definitely feel that things have become more homogeneous. The only big difference I found was the immense pride in the quality of MIJ which so far I can definitely attest to.
Fascinating....great look behind the scenes!

Regarding the mirror: I'm guilty.
Lol - in the privacy of our own room we're all guilty. But in a Fender showroom? 😂
I edited my post to include something about workers in Japan (in that case a barber) but workers particularly craftsmen indeed have an immense pride in their work. The product they make is not just another fish to be cleaned, it's a meal for a fellow human being.
Awsome posting, thanks! (y) (y) (y)

Tokyo has been on my 'places to go" list for quite some time, and its inching closer to the top now :)