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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

WJAAS - Hakata Blues & Miyajima-san/Otono Edison Labs.

After arriving quite late in the evening in Hakata-shin, Fukuoka-ken, having some troubles in finding a suitable nice, central, yet cheap hotel, I finally found what I was looking for and checked-in; after dressing more properly for a relaxed, late evening dinner, I found - using my "Nihon x-ray sight";-) - a SUPERB small traditional restaurant, where in perfect japanese, I ordered superb vegetables and shrimps tempura and Kirini's beers a go-go... had also great japlish chatting with two young salary men, actually two friends in their thirties who were laughing and eating and kampai-ing con gusto.
Virtuoso chops eating and drinking some beers without problems, with my status of motorbiker and being italian, as a plus... I almost finished to sign some autographs;-)))

Jokes apart, a very pleasant, amusing, light evening after a very long day which began early in Kyoto, had a brief stop in Hiroshima to arrive in Hakata, at last.

The day after... heavy rain!!!

The only rain I suffered in two weeks, yet HEAVY... I had to reach Miyajima-san at Otono Edison Labs., the makers of the fine Shilabe cartridges I own and appreciate and, as I discovered later that second day in Hakata, also of superb tube power amps and horns-based speakers.

I took my bus - instructions given at my request at the hotel counter before checking out - and let me flow in the so large city, after downtown, I was in the suburbs, almost at the bus terminal... here was my stop, at last.

Left my heavy luggage at a Nissan's garage and, lighter, I began my search for Otono's.

My Google Earth in Kanji paper made me to take a kilometer long walk... when, quite sad and wet under the heavy rain, I saw from a window some guitars hanging on a wall... Holy Strings!

Without hesitation, I entered the "shop", well happy to avoid rain drops and grey sky...

What I found was the Sun: after few words, I met Ki, his ukelele school and two young pupils learning hawaaian art;-)

A coffee was prepared in a moment, and I found myself seated with a Gibson ES-175 in my hands, playing with Ki, my host and ukelele master and owner of this unique place and the two kids a Blues in A, easier for the little students.

Thanks a lot, Ki... you made my day and I refound the sun and temper I was missing under the heavy Hakata rain... thus "Hakata Blues"!

We had great chatting, took pixes and swapped cards and e-mails.

A great meeting.


After half an hour, I was again on my way to Miyajima-san's place... entered an information point and after few minutes, Miyajima's son picked me up with the car and brought me at the nearby laboratory and house...

Like for Shindo Lab's doorbell, a classy, beautiful, old-timey WE tube - I trust an exhausted one - sign was signalling an audio shop.

There I met Miyajima-san and his beautiful, well sounding audio system, and... his daughter, an handsome and skilled young artisan whose little, good hands were the responsible for hand-assemblying of ALL the MC cartridges which I saw in a batch under her hands.

Beautiful and interesting.

As a plus, a true one, Miyajima-san choose a records from his collection to evaluate his system... and by chance, that VERY record was one of my most beloved vinyls ever: a Decca Wide Band of Britten's Simple Symphony masterfully recorded at The Malting Snape, directed by B. Britten himself, a record I love and own in this very first pressing since my boyhood and sonically a true winner.

I almost was in tears, for the music, the emotion and the quality of the sound coming from those unassuming speakers with Electrovoice's transducers.

Several Western Electric tubes based amps with Tango irons, lots of MC transformers and cartridges everywhere... also great visiting the laboratory, a tiny, narrow space where the whole Miyajima family was handmaking these great, little audio masterpieces.

Then, I was brought to a nearby - again under a nasty, heavy rain - workshop and, Holy Horn!!!

Please have a look to the SUPERB replica of WE 66A horns for WE 555 or similar top quality drivers.

More listenings - some jazz - and more pixes, empathy and good time, that's what was offered at Miyajima's.

I left this beautiful island of family quietness and love, while Miyajima-san's son kindly brought me to Nissan's to pick up my luggage... while still raining cats and dogs!

More bows and thanking, sincere thanks for the kindness and good time and... I was on my way back to the Hakata's station, ready for more, massive doses of Shinkansen's.

Thanks to Miyajima's and to Ki!


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