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The Mandolin in Japan : with Masataka Hori

Masataka Hori:
mandolinist, composer, producer and conductor

Masataka studied mandolin, conducting and harmony under Takashi Kubota in Japan. He was selected to study in Saarbrücken, Germany as an overseas trainee for Heisei Cultural Agency New Artists in 2011, where he studied mandolin under Juan-Carlos Muñoz.
He also studied theory of Jazz and improvisation under Kiyomi Otaka.

He has won many prestigious awards such as first place at the Raffael Calace International Mandolin Solo Competition in Italy in 2014 and the Tokyo Governor Prize in 2002.
He launched his own mandolin ensemble called "EUPHORIA" and a jazz fusion band “Mandolicks”(electric mandolin, piano, bass guitar and drums). He also curates and produces the concert series "Il Mandolino Giapponese - another Italian culture".
Its success is generating further concert activities.

Masataka currently plays a mandolin custom built by Daigoro Ochiai.  Ochiai’s mandolins are renowned worldwide and cater for all of Masataka’s demands and ideas without any limitation.

Masataka writes regularly in a special mandolin magazine “Playing!  Mandolin” in an article about mandolin performance and practice.

He’s the mandolin club music director at Dokkyo University and an educator in KMA Meguro School, Ikegaku Mandolin and Iguchi Mandolin Music Schools in Tokyo and, since 2017 is an endorser for world renowned string maker OPTIMA.

Masataka has performed as a soloist at the festival “Rencontres Pince-Cordes” held in Milkur (France) in 2011,  the “Kobe International Music Festival” (Japan) in 2013,  and at the Suntory Foundation for Arts Summer Festival (Japan) in 2015.

Masataka made a debut in Australia in 2018 when he and mimi duo(Duncan
Gardiner(Gt.) and Setsu Masuda(Pf.) )  toured around Brisbane and Perth.
It was such a great success that the various media outlets such as newspapers/web
magazine/radio stations followed and hailed the concert tour.

Masataka released a CD "Preludio" in 2015, which is a classical solo mandolin album.  
The CD was highly acclaimed by Shin-ichiro Ikebe, one of the most respected composers in Japan : "Without doubt , this album will send fresh waves widely to the whole music world, not limited to the mandolin world ".


Masataka, can you told us what is your activity around the mandolin, please?

-Play/organize concerts (solo or ensembles with other instruments)
-Compose and arrange (for my own concert, or comissioned by someone)
-Teacher (individualy, group, club activity in school)

How many mandolin groups are in activity in your country?
(Can we have a list?)

Unfortunatly, I don’t have any lists, because there are too many groups in Tokyo.
I don’t know, how many groups. We can’t count it…! But one of famous researcher said that about 28,500 people play Mandolin in Japan.

How and when mandolin arrived in Japan?

Around 1890 or few years before.
Probably brought by traders or militaries who came by ship.
According to the official record, the first concert, where Mandolin was played, was 1894 by Totsuji-Shikama in Tokyo (Hibiya).

Where we can learn mandolin ?

-Individual lessons
-Lessons in mandolin shop
-Music Colleges as Hiroshima, Osaka, Tokyo, and Nagoya

Which kind of mandolins we can find in Japan ?
(neapoletan style, german, brazilian, new luthiers etc)

-Old Italian Mandolins : Calace, Vinaccia, Embergher, etc.
-Italian new Mandolins : Calace, Lippi, Gabrielli etc.
-and, of course, Japanese Mandolins : Ochiai, Noguchi, Miyano, Matsushima, Takusari, Kawada and for beginners Prestri (Ikegaku original) and Kanade...

You can see them on these Website.

Additionaly, this is my MODEL by one of the top luthier Ochiai.
There is no Artist Signature Model in Japan except this called “S-H Series”.

Here you’ve a list of most of the japanese luthiers :

Ochiai Mandolin

Noguchi Mandolin

Miyano Mandolin and Matsushima Mandolin

Takusari Mandolin (He is famous for Embergher model)

Kawada Mandolin

and These are for Beginners

Prestri (ikegaku original)




Many people say that Ochiai and Noguchi are top 2 luthier in Japan.

What is the most played repertoire/s ?

Classical Music.

If you had to choose a word that represents or defines the mandolin, which would it be ?

Language, Voice.