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Bamboo Pipe Organ: Location?

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  • Bamboo Pipe Organ: Location?

    I'm trying to track down a specific pipe organ from the 1960s. There was a pipe organ where, instead of the normal wood or metal pipes, the pipes were actually made out of bamboo. No, this isn't the famous one in Las Piñas, which seems to be cited in most places as the only bamboo pipe organ in the world. However, according to this news article, people have cited that there are other bamboo organs in the world out there, including two in Japan. One of these holds sentimental value for my dad. Here's what he wrote about it on a Wikipedia talk page for The Sony Building:

    "This was one of my favorite buildings in the Ginza when it was first opened. The lobby had a bamboo pipe organ (bamboo pipes instead of the big wood pipes). When I went downtown, I would try to get to the Ginza at times when they did their organ "recitals". Then I could head upstairs to the isolated listening room -- a quiet island in the midst of a noisy city. If anyone can find any information on this organ, it would make a great addition to the article. It was gone by the time I went back to Japan in 1976."

    Here's what I've found out about the organ from my dad and from other Internet sources he cited in his original discussion post: the organ was built in 1966 for the Sony Building by Sony-Yamaha, but as my dad mentioned, it was moved by 1976 and The Sony Building itself was demolished in 2017, so I can't even get a hold of them to see what they know about it.

    I've since found additional information about the organ: an author named Peter Chueng wrote about it briefly in his book Pipe Organs, Electronic Organs, and Church Organists, which I've only been able to find a copy of in the Organ Historical Society in Pennsylvania. In an article in the South China Morning Post (February 24, 1975), he cited Mr. Yukio Tsuda as the builder of the original organ, commissioned by Nippon Gakki Co Ltd for construction. It took 20 months and 40 million yen to build the organ, so I'd be VERY surprised if the thing was demolished completely. The fact that he wrote about this organ in 1975, though, talking about it in the present tense suggests to me that it was STILL in the Sony building by 1975 and was moved out within a year of that article.

    I have not been able to find a single trace of the organ outside of this information. I've tried everything. I've called the Organ Historical Society, the National Archives, and the to see if they know anything, and I'll keep my eye out for a response from them. I've contacted The International Bamboo Organ Festival and The Pipe Organ in China Project, the latter of which had a picture of the organ on their website (in their August 2021 update post). I bought the book The Bamboo Organ of Las Piñas by Helen F. Samson in an attempt to find her citing of this organ. I've searched my university library for any trace of anything, which is how I stumbled across the South China Morning Post. I called seven organists across the country who were listed on this one website and got in contact with three of them, who all pointed me back to the Organ Historical Society. I've even contacted various organizations in Japan -- the National Archives of Japan, some music universities, the tourism board (who knew nothing, that was my mistake), the Hamamatsu Musical Instrument Museum, the Kyoto Concert Hall, and The Japan Times, among others, to see if any of them knew where to look. I've turned up nothing else. I wanted to try and post this to OrganForum because you guys seem like smart cookies who know a thing or two about organs, so I would love to know: is there any resource I can turn to that would know anything about where this organ has ended up?

  • #2
    I assume you are aware of the bamboo organ in Roeselare in Belgium. It was built by Prajwidya Instrumentalia in Jakarata, Indonesia in 1995. Might this provide you with a link to someone familiar with the history of the instrument you are looking for?

    I have the sample set created by Sygsoft, Holland in 2009.

    Although lacking a bit in tonal variety, it nonetheless is a delightful instrument.

    Good luck in your quest.


    • Coenraads
      Coenraads commented
      Editing a comment
      BTW, here is the company address:

      Company name
      Prajawidya Instrumentalia
      DKI Jakarta
      Business number

  • #3
    I'm afraid I don't know much about the subject, but I know a little about asian languages. For the builder, you can try their Japanese name:

    由紀夫 津田

    And for information about Japanese pipe organs, try the Japanese word:


    or the same word with bamboo:

    竹 (take) or

    You can input the URL of any websites you find into google translate, then it will translate them for you. I wish you all the best!

    Current: Allen 225 RTC, W. Bell reed organ, Lowrey TGS, Singer upright grand
    Former: Yamaha E3R


    • #4
      Alternately, you could search the Forum for "bamboo organ." The topic has been discussed here before, but I think it was a bit over 10 years ago. If there were links they might still work.

      Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
      • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
      • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
      • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos


      • #5
        There's a picture of it here:

        Apr. 25, 1966 - Pipe Organ made of Bamboos: The world's first bamboo pipe organ appeared recently at Sony building at Sukiya-bashi, Tokyo. Main pipes among 980 pipes of the organ are made of excellent bamboo sellected from all parts of japan to produce milder tone than metal pipe organs,. Nihen Gakki Co spent a year and a half and 40 million yen to make it.

        If Nihen Gakki should read Nippon Gakki, then it may refer to Yamaha:

        Nippon Gakki Co. Ltd. (currently Yamaha Corporation) was established in 1887 as a reed organ manufacturer by Torakusu Yamaha in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture and was incorporated on October 12, 1897.

        Hammond M-102 #21000.
        Leslie 147 #F7453.
        Hammond S-6 #72421


        • Coenraads
          Coenraads commented
          Editing a comment
          Judging from the photograph, the scaling of the pipes looks all wrong. What exactly is going on here?

        • Larason2
          Larason2 commented
          Editing a comment
          Bamboo pipes are often deceiving! I friend of mine gave me a pan flute once made of bamboo. It looked roughly like a pan flute should, but the notes were all over the map! I tried to work out how to modify them so they would result in a workable diatonic scale but I gave up. It's also possible that it was tuned to one of the asian scales that predate western temperaments.

        • Larason2
          Larason2 commented
          Editing a comment
          Also, the cavity inside the bamboo can be of variable thickness, which affects the pitch. So I'm thinking the scaling is a combination of both height, and how much the bamboo was carved out inside.

      • #6
        Update on the bamboo organ: I reached out to the Pipedreams podcast of Minnesota Public Radio, and one of their members confirmed to me that the organ was unfortunately dismantled in the 1970s.