Koichi Kawai | The Founder of Kawai Pianos
Over 100 years ago the son of a wagon builder set about to build his first piano. It was soon apparent that the young man had an inherent skill for advanced design and innovation. His name was Koichi Kawai and his research and development team became the ones to introduce the piano to the country of Japan. A struggling piano builder noticed a young Koichi Kawai riding by on a pedal cart the young boy had designed and built on his own. Impressed with his already apparent engineering prowess he offered an apprenticeship to him. It was there that the seed of the Kawai piano was planted.
Engineering Expertise | Continued Growth
Kawai’s yearning for knowledge and further growth led him to become the first person in Japan to plan and fully construct a complete piano action. This was a feat that led to numerous patents and national recognition. Before this, piano actions were imported to Japan from Germany and the United States at a high cost.
However, all was not well for the young Japanese piano industry. During the 1920s the Japanese piano industry as a whole began to falter. The company that Koichi worked with had come under new leadership. It was during this time of change and uncertainty that a young Koichi Kawai decided to start out on his own. In the year 1927, Koichi Kawai and seven of his colleagues founded the Kawai Musical Instrument Research Laboratory in Hamamatsu, Japan.
1927 | A New Company
As with all new ventures, it took work to get it off the ground. A shortage of fine craftsmen and quality piano components made it difficult to produce the level of instrument he had in mind. After the instruments were produced, there wasn’t a satisfactory network of dealers to reach potential clients. Yet he persevered, and the company began to flourish. By the mid 20th century Kawai employed over 500 employees and the factory shipped out over 1500 pianos per year.
Koichi Kawai’s hard work paid off. His company [by then known as Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing, Ltd.] continued to grow under his steady hand and leadership. His dedication to his craft resulted in him receiving the “Blue Ribbon Medal” from the Emperor of Japan making him the first person in the music industry to be awarded this high honor. His dedication to true innovation, high standards and perfection continue at Kawai. In a ‘never-ending quest for perfection’ Kawai instruments truly are the future of the piano.
The Kawai Family Legacy | Continued Family Leadership
Koichi Kawai continued as the president of the Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Company until his death in 1955. His son Shigeru Kawai was appointed as the new Kawai company president. Remaining committed to the founding ideals of the business, he began preparing the company for the rapid growth he felt the music industry was about to undergo. Under his leadership, Kawai opened the Ryuyo Grand Piano Factory in 1980. He later introduced the Shigeru Kawai Grand Piano line, a series of premium pianos described as ‘his personal legacy to the piano world.’ With Kawai firmly established in Japan, he launched Kawai America in 1963. This was soon followed by Kawai Europe, Kawai Canada, Kawai Australia, and Kawai Asia.
This careful growth and expansion continues under the leadership of current President & CEO Hirotaka Kawai who became president in 1989. Under his guidance, the company has invested tens of millions of dollars in advanced robotics and other manufacturing improvements. He began the production of pianos outside of Japan with the founding of Kawai America Manufacturing and oversaw the introduction of the widely acclaimed RX Series of grand pianos. [The new GX Series is built upon the design of the RX Series.]
The Kawai company has continued to introduce new innovations and new lines of pianos under the Kawai family leadership. Unlike many other companies, Kawai is still very much a family-run business and continues to expand around the world. Kawai acoustic and digital pianos are now distributed to over 80 countries across the globe, a testament to their lasting quality, beautiful sound, and dedication to true innovation.
We Touch the Heart Strings
“Music, the highest of fine arts, is the sound of the soul. Music comes from deep within us and excites the emotions. The universal language of music is shared by all people. Music transcends the ages and communicates to the heart.
We recognize that a fine musical instrument is essential to faithfully translate artistic impressions. It is through the musical instrument that the artist touches the heartstrings.
Koichi Kawai, our founder, dreamed of building the world’s finest piano. Now after a long history of technical innovations and quality craftsmanship, it is as though his dream has come true… today we bring the consumer a quality piano value.
The dream of Koichi Kawai does not stop any more than does the need to create and enjoy music. We are developing new products and new procedures, expanding into new fields, and bringing quality products to more and more people throughout the world.”
– Hirotaka Kawai, Kawai Company President & CEO
Chupp’s Piano Service | Northern Indiana/Southern Michigan Kawai Pianos