Important Guitar Discovery

After spending a lot of time researching and purchasing several different types of costly finger picks and thumb picks, and after spending several short sessions trying to play a few simple notes as best I could figure out from a beginning fingerstyle book, I have made a very important discovery.

I was interrupted recently during a practice session here in Japan. I tried to continue the fingerstyle exercises in the book while we spoke, even though I wasn’t sure if I was really doing what was intended by the author.

Stunned Satisfaction!
On a whim because of my distraction, I decided to pop off the finger picks and thumb pick I was wearing and I made an attempt to play the same exercises with my finger tips. The result was stunningly satisfying.

It was not a ‘quality of play’ stunned satisfaction I felt; It was just a much more pleasurable and emotionally gratifying experience.

I instantly realized how much more I love being able to touch the strings with my right hand instead of touching them through plastic finger picks.

Of course, it makes it easier as a beginner to find the strings if I can feel them, but this felt so good I knew I could not let this sensation go anytime soon. I have not put the finger picks back on since that day.

Perhaps in the future I will try finger picks again when I have some guitar dexterity. With some modification and trimming, Alaska Piks (no ‘c’), which I didn’t like the fit of as much as the Freedom Picks I was attempting to use, have the potential to provide a finger pad contact point while still simulating the effect of having longer nails.

Fingerstyle is for Fingers
But for now, I HAVE to play fingerstyle with my fingers. It feels so much better and I feel so much more connected to the guitar.

I had been avoiding starting my fingerstyle study efforts with bare fingers because I thought it would involve maintaining unpleasantly long and manicured nails.

Now that I realized I wanted to play with no picks, I was left with uncertainty about how I would proceed. Could I just use the pads of my fingers or would I really need to grow out super long nails?

Perfect Timing
Already on my calendar for a day just a few days after my ‘touching the strings is good’ epiphany, I was scheduled to meet for the first time and have a lesson with internationally renowned champion fingerstyle player Shohei Toyada who has taken up residence in Kyoto.

In my next post, I will write more about my first meetings with Shohei, but what I wanted to add here is how perfect the timing of this first meeting was. I discovered that though Shohei has long nails, they are not super long like I have seen on some other guitarists. He says he plays using the nail as an accent to his fingers’ contact with the guitar strings and not as the primary plucking surface.

It turns out that it may indeed be possible to be an accomplished fingerstyle guitarist without freakishly long, ‘burdensome to all other aspects of life’ fingernails. Eureka!


New friends I met at a dinner party a week ago in Kyoto invited me to their home for an introduction to guitar and dinner this evening.

Hands on with a Real Guitar
The soon to be groom of this couple is an accomplished guitar player and has been playing for 10 years. He allowed me to play his Martin Acoustic and G&L Electric before his fiancee got home from work and joined us for dinner. We had a tasty meal in their home after the painful guitar session.

My First Chords
I was shown 4 chords: E, A, B7, and B, all of which I am likely to forget soon without a guitar to practice them on. The main thing I took away from this ‘introduction to guitar’ evening is that guitar playing is a physical challenge.

Guitar Athlete
As much as playing the guitar is a musical and skill challenge, it is indeed clearly an athletic challenge. To achieve my goals, I now understand that in many respects learning to play guitar is going to be like learning any other physically challenging activity.

I must embrace the physical nature of this pursuit and think of it as a mountain to climb not only for the summit, but more for the simple pleasures and satisfaction that come from the journey.

The Good Stuff
I suspect that as much as I may want to become a capable and highly proficient guitar player, many years from now, some of my fondest memories of my guitar journey are still going to be these times now when I was struggling to play just a few chords.

I am sure the best guitarists in the world still consider learning and progressing to be the best part of being a guitar player. They are athlete musicians always trying to improve and it is why they are so good.

There may never be a more concentrated period of learning and knowledge absorption in my guitar journey than this very moment.

Right now as an absolute beginner, my guitar journey is likely as good as it is ever going to get.

I really like that thought, because I can identify the same truth from other challenging activities I have pursued in life. Upon reaching the initially imagined goals, I found it was the journey I cherished, not the act of standing on the target.

Japanese Word of the Day
Itai (いたい) – pronounced ‘ee’ as in eek and ‘tie’ as in necktie. 
It means ‘ouch’ or ‘it hurts’.

I will confess I wailed, “Itai!” more than a couple of times tonight as I attempted to maneuver and hold my fingers in position for painful and often unsuccessful attempts to create chords.

I even felt a new song titled Itai trying to flow from within. My left hand fingertips are unnaturally pink and unpleasantly tender as I type this entry.

At first I regretted that I did not record my first weak efforts to play some chords this evening with my little portable audio recorder I carry around with me at all times. I was caught up in the moment, enjoying my visit and to be honest, I completely forgot about this little website and my guitar ‘goals’ for a while. But that is not such a bad thing.

I will record a few of my early unskilled efforts soon enough.

Thank you Koichi for this great start on my guitar playing journey!


Strap Graphics Custom Guitar Straps
After just writing about what might be the ultimate ‘cool’ (visually) guitar straps, Revo’s Wood Guitar Straps, I have now found another interesting and very different option that also provides customization.

The Strap Graphics’ website offers custom 4 color printing on typical 2″ wide plastic guitar straps. Their low-end straps are not very appealing and a little pricey at $54 US.

For anywhere between $64 and $129 depending on options selected, Strap Graphics offers leather straps in 2.5″ and 3.5″ widths that look nicer and should be more comfortable. The 3.5″ strap looks too wide for me to consider, but perhaps it is noticeably more comfortable. The premium suede-backed version of their 2.5″ leather guitar strap would probably be my choice if I try one of these.

Online Guitar Strap Design
Strap Graphics’ interactive site allows you to view a simulation of how your strap may turn out after you design and upload your graphic.

It is definitely an interesting and fun idea. The finish of the straps looks good in the photos, though I’m curious about how durable the final printed result is.

The sample images I viewed in Strap Graphics’ gallery show original website preview files as well as photographs of finished products. In some you can see what appears to be a fair representation of what to expect with especially vivid RGB colors that don’t translate accurately with this printing technique.

I haven’t found a reference to CMYK color submissions for the site. I will write to the company before submitting an order to see if it is possible to achieve a higher degree of color accuracy than their standard web interface seems to support.

From the photos, I think the color results can be good with their method. The color accuracy concern is probably not a critical issue for most customers. Just keep in mind that super bright and neon-like colors are not going to look the same printed on your guitar strap as they do on a computer screen.

Revo vs. Strap Graphics
The Revo wooden guitar straps I’m considering would probably come across visually as a more sophisticated option. If sophistication and elegance is part the desired objective with your visual presentation, Revo’s guitar straps may be the way to go. The wood itself is the main aspect of the design and what creates the strong effect.

Revo offers customization options including etching, inlaid materials, and graphics, but if a bold billboard style presentation on your strap is more appealing, then the customization options of Strap Graphics’ products would be more appropriate.

I am interested in both companies’ products. Comfort would be the issue that would likely determine which one I used primarily. Perhaps Revo’s weight distributing, small wooden pieces could beat a traditional strap in comfort as Revo’s marketing hints at, but I have no experience with either product. I will add comfort notes to the site in the future if I get the chance to use these guitar straps.

I should add that I have come across one comment online mentioning discontent with the ‘less grippy’ nature of the wooden pieces of the Revo guitar straps when on the shoulder. Also, there are some complaints or concerns about the hard wood banging against one’s guitar in a case. Removing and replacing the strap might be a more common part of your routine with a Revo. Generally, the comments I have found have been very positive in support of the Revo products.

Another Consideration
Though I’m not totally against the use of dead animal skin in our day to day lives, I do like that Revo’s straps are made of wood instead of long suffering, grain depleting and atmosphere damaging livestock. However, if we are eating mass produced, assembly line beef anyway, it could be viewed as inappropriate to waste the byproducts. Hopefully Revo’s wood is coming from an easily replenished source, but I don’t know.

I am not sure which of these I will end up trying first, but after finding the Revo and Strap Graphics options, I definitely don’t want a regular cheap plastic guitar strap.


Revo Hardwood Guitar Straps
While browsing for info on guitar straps today, I came across a collection of interesting wooden guitar straps marketed as the Revo Exotic Wood Guitar Straps collection.

At 75 bucks a pop Revo straps are not cheap, but they are visually distinctive and reported by many to be very comfortable. I especially like their designs when finished in black.

revo exotic hardwood guitar straps

A few of Revo’s wooden guitar strap design and color options.

Custom Guitar Straps
For an additional fee, you can have larger wood segments used on part of a Revo strap for custom inlay designs or custom laser etching.

I still haven’t found a Japanese themed guitar strap design to reflect my connection to Kyoto when I’m away. Many of the straps I am continuing to find on the shelves in Japan are American branded guitar straps with low quality designs and made with uncomfortable low quality materials. I’m sure they are much the same as what can be found in most any guitar shop in the US.

I really like the idea of a custom guitar strap with my own design on part of it, but some of the Revo guitar straps look so nice and clean without additional markings or design interruptions, I might prefer no personalization.

My Favorites
If I got a Revo strap now, I would be leaning towards a black Solano strap or the wider Gordo strap, also in black, as my top choices. I think one of the Revo straps might be an especially ideal companion for a limited edition Takamine LTD 2011, if I should ever obtain that guitar.

Revo Links
Here is a link to the main Revo Wood Guitar Strap website if you want to have a look at all their designs and different wood finishes.
Revo Exotic Wood Guitar Straps

This second link is for the Revo Guitar Straps original site, when they were being promoted as Heartwoodes wooden guitar straps.
Heartwoodes Exotic Wood Guitar Straps

If you become serious about placing an order for a Revo Strap, you might like digging around on the old Heartwoodes site where you can view some alternate images of their products to help you with the decision making process.


I don’t have enough experience with guitars (as in practically none) to know how much difference a solid wood top could make compared to a top assembled from laminated wood (plywood).

There is a fair amount of discussion online about solid wood tops being better, but I get the impression that the ‘solid wood is better’ mantra is accepted as fact by many people who may have never really compared the sounds of multiple instruments critically.

It does certainly seem to be a plausible assertion that sound may resonate more robustly through a single piece of wood on a guitar’s top than it would through several slivers of wood bonded together with gobs of glue.

The guitars I have been sampling so far do all seem to have solid wood tops according to the specs. I wish I could compare 2 nearly identical guitars where one had a solid top and the other had a plywood top.

Conned by a Big Guitar Store
I later found out through a personal purchase experience with a large guitar store in the US that the specs you are given for a guitar are not always truthful when it comes to whether or not a guitar has a solid wood top. Interestingly, my lack of experience with guitars caused it to take a little while after buying the guitar to figure out I had been defrauded. More on that story will be added soon.

Tone quality is important to me and on the chance that the generally pervasive observations online about solid wood tops being much better are accurate, I’m presently leaning towards purchasing a guitar with a solid wood top.

Takamine Guitars (It’s ‘tah kah mee nay’, not ‘tah kah mee nee’.)
By the way, my preoccupation with Takamine guitars that you may have noticed from previous posts is mostly due to my need to simplify my search and due to the small personal intrigue I feel regarding the prospect of buying a Japanese designed, if not Japanese manufactured, guitar. Due to this website’s obvious connection to my life in Japan, it seems not inappropriate that my first guitar purchase might be a Japanese model.

Finding an appealing Takamine by chance early in my search, and because it is impractical to analyze all of the hundreds of guitar models in the world that might be options, has caused me to decide to focus on the guitars from this one manufacturer for now.

My reading online suggests that Takamine has a reputation for making quality guitars at competitive prices and that helps me to feel comfortable with my current focus on their products.

I’m not closed off to other guitar brands; but my focus is definitely on Takamine at the moment.


Japan Tourism Tip
Higashi (East) Honganji mentioned in this post is one of two Buddhist sister temples near Kyoto Station, with the other being Nishi (West) Honganji. The eastern temple site is a very easy location to visit on foot for people who might hop off the shinkansen for lunch or one night in Kyoto, and then hop back on the train to continue along their way. However, I should tell you that most people with significant knowledge of Japan will encourage you to make Kyoto your main destination and not a secondary one if you want to maximize your Japan experience.

Smoke-Free Restaurant in Japan!
Last night I met a friend who led me to the Mikoan vegetarian restaurant somewhat hidden down a long dark alley here in Kyoto. Another friend had once led me to the same restaurant, but we arrived after closing time that visit. I was happy to have this chance to finally venture inside.

I am not vegetarian, but I can certainly enjoy vegetarian meals on occasion, especially when they are provided in a non-smoking environment, which Mikoan is. Non-smoking restaurants are no longer exceptionally rare in Japan, but they are unfortunately still in the minority.

Musical Restaurant
There were several guitars, some Japanese stringed instruments, including a very simple homemade shamisen (three-string plucked instrument), as well as an upright piano in this old restaurant near Shijo street.

When I took an interest in the guitars, the woman who owns and runs this small restaurant by herself gestured for me to play. Oh how I wanted to accept her offer, but at this point I don’t know how to play guitar… at all.

The Suzuki guitar seen in the photo above has a handwritten Buddhist prayer chant in kanji covering its front which creates a cool visual effect I think. It turns out that the owner is affiliated with the Higashi Honganji Buddhist temple just north of the main Kyoto train station.

Are You Comfortable Dining With Cats?
If you do visit Mikoan, be aware that at least one cat may join you on the bar where you eat. Apparently this does not bother too many Japanese customers, but I feel I would be out of line not to warn you. I have to admit I was a bit surprised and concerned by the cat’s permission to freely roam everywhere in the restaurant (even though I’m cool with cats in other settings).

Deep in the Alley
Mikoan’s long and narrow alley approach is right off of Teramachi Dori, a street known for its covered pedestrian shopping arcade in Kyoto. The restaurant is not too far south of Shijo Dori on Teramachi’s right hand side as you walk south.

If you visit Kyoto and are trying to find this restaurant, keep a look out for the tight narrow alley about 4 feet wide, shortly past the Family Mart convenience store on your right as you walk down Teramachi from Shijo. To help with your bearings, keep in mind that Teramachi on the south side of Shijo is not covered and is open to cars.

Someday if I return to Mikoan after learning how to play, I hope I am offered another chance with the white kanji prayer guitar.


‘Geisha’ Header Design
The white background in the first header for the site is from a photo I took of the back and neck of a maiko with her deep plunging traditional red kimono collar. Maiko are young apprentice entertainers incorrectly called geisha by westerners (and many Japanese).

[Oops, I have changed the header graphic already. Later I will add that photo or similar ones to this post so there are visual references for the text.]

This maiko was entering Japan’s most historically significant Kabuki theater in Kyoto’s Gion entertainment district during a 5 day event held each year at the beginning of December. The maiko wear small wooden decorations in their hair on the day their particular Hanamachi visits the theater. After the performances, the maiko have their wooden ornaments signed by their favorite kabuki actors.

Four of Kyoto’s five Hanamachi (flower towns) are located in or around Gion and close enough to my residence that I often end up cycling through their neighborhoods at night on my way home. The entertainers in these old Kyoto communities are considered the ‘hana’ (flowers) of these ‘machi’ (towns).

If you make the correct turns as you move through the chessboard streets and alleys of Kyoto at night, it is quite easy to see maiko (apprentices) and geiko (fully trained entertainers) coming and going along the idyllic neighborhoods of Miyagawacho, Gion Kobu, Pontocho and Gion Higashi. Kamishichiken, the 5th hanamachi, is not clustered together with the other 4 ‘flower towns’ and is a little outside of my regular routes in Kyoto.

The most visually intriguing area to me on a maiko in full wardrobe is the back of her neck just below the hairline. The white ‘paint’ is applied in a manner that creates alluring two-tone graphic effects that purposely leave a small portion of the neck completely bare. I’m sure I will later find excuses to share more maiko and geiko photos on the site along with the other images of Japan.

She’s Not a Geisha
The girl in the photo is not a geisha. Geisha is a misnomer in Kyoto. There actually are no geisha here. They are all maiko and geiko.

There are a few women correctly called geisha in other parts of Japan, but they are not quite the same thing as the more thoroughly trained and prestigious maiko and geiko of Kyoto.

Many seemingly authoritative sources online and in print incorrectly describe the difference between geisha and maiko/geiko as nearly irrelevant semantics, as if it is a local dialect that determines the use of one word over the other. However, the differences are much greater than that.

I am not an expert on this subject, but I have learned a little from a few Japanese persons whose main hobby is photographing and documenting this aspect of Japanese culture.

By chance I also once interviewed a maiko when my date and I were unexpectedly invited by strangers to join a private party with a maiko performer. One of my Japanese housemates in Kyoto a few years ago was even dating a maiko, though I got the impression that was a particularly delicate and necessarily secretive activity for the maiko.

You will see promotions in English connected to events with ‘geisha’ when you visit Kyoto, but that is only because they are marketing to tourists who all know the word geisha and likely don’t know the words geiko or maiko.

Interestingly, many Japanese people not from Kyoto, or those who are not so interested in this aspect of their country’s culture, don’t really know the difference between geisha and geiko either.

It is not such a terrible faux pas to use the incorrect word geisha when you are in Kyoto, but many people will appreciate it if you make an effort and show interest in the culture by using proper Japanese vocabulary when you try to say something in Japanese.

I should tell you that once during a much earlier visit to Kyoto, I used the term geisha inappropriately at a maiko/geiko photo exhibition. Multiple voices all chimed in to strongly correct me. That was the last time I mistakenly referred to maiko or geiko as geisha. :-)


Kyoto Guitarist Japanese Word(s) of the Day

Geisha (げいしゃ) – Traditional Japanese female entertainers, sometimes wearing white makeup, not found in Kyoto.

Geiko (げいこ) – Traditional Japanese female entertainers, sometimes wearing white makeup, only found in Kyoto, and connected to 1 of 5 Hanamachi (flower towns) within the city.

While the training is said to be more extensive and elaborate and the protocol more strict, perhaps the most notable differences between the geisha in other regions and the geiko/maiko of Kyoto are the more elaborate neighborhood rituals and the many culturally significant events that are carried out throughout the year by each Hanamachi in Kyoto.

Maiko (まいこ) – Traditional Japanese apprentice female entertainers, sometimes wearing white makeup, only found in Kyoto.

There are several notable differences between a geiko and a maiko in appearance when in full makeup and wardrobe. The most noticeable one to me is the hair.

A young maiko-san’s hairstyle is a mandatory design made with their own hair. Geiko wear traditional wigs that are very different and easy to detect, even at a distance, with their unnaturally perfect shape and symmetry.

takamine ltd 2011 nex acoustic electric guitar

Takamine LTD2011 NEX body Acoustic Electric Guitar

Takamine LTD2011 Limited Edition Guitar (271 Made)
I never thought I would be attracted to a blue (or indigo) guitar, but the distinctive Japanese details on this Takamine LTD2011 NEX body guitar are appealing to me. It is an instrument with an obvious connection to Japan, even beyond the Japanese maker’s name on the headstock. I also really like its size and shape.

The Goldfish Guitar
This guitar would make my search for a Japanese themed guitar strap quite redundant. The Takamine limited edition LTD2011 has inlaid shell goldfish embedded in its deep blue indigo burst solid spruce top and in the ebony fretboard. The goldfish designs at the guitar’s waist include kimono fabric and a Japanese ceremonial gold braided string as part of the inlay. It is certainly ornate, but I think it is tasteful and from the photos and videos I’ve seen, the deep blue body appears black or nearly black in some lighting conditions. I think the guitar’s overall visual mood is serious and elegant enough, though too fanciful for some I’m sure.

Guitar Prop
In addition to liking the size, shape and distinctive appearance of this guitar, one other reason I am drawn to the LTD2011 is because I am working on a creative project that will one day require an unusual and very distinctive guitar as a prop. It is fun to have discovered a guitar that might be appropriate.

Size and Shape
This guitar is smaller than the Takamine jumbo guitar I first picked up in one of the Kyoto music stores I have been visiting. This NEX body style is referred to as a small jumbo. The LTD2011 has the same basic dimensions as a standard dreadnought, but with a more rounded shape similar to that of a jumbo body. The NEX body shape is said to be unique to Takamine, though I have seen similarly shaped guitars from other makers.

Tube Preamp
The LTD2011 is an acoustic electric guitar with a tube preamp and tuner built in. Apparently Takamine has patented the tube preamp and is the only guitar maker offering them. I am not sure if there is a discernible difference between a tube preamp and a ‘non-tube’ preamp, but it adds an interesting marketing detail for the perceived desirability of Takamine’s guitars.

I Know What I Want (sort of)
I have been trying out less expensive Takamine NEX body guitars (called 500 series bodies in Japan) to see how they feel and sound to me and I think I may have settled on the brand and guitar body type for my first guitar purchase, even if I have not selected the actual model I will buy yet. The LTD2011 may be pretty far out of my first guitar budget range, but Takamine makes many more affordable guitars with NEX/500 series bodies.

If you are enjoying this site so far and would like to buy me a Takamine LTD2011 Limited Edition guitar in appreciation for the half dozen blog posts I have already written, I will happily accept your donation. Contact me if you would like to know where to have it shipped. :-)

Update: If you have read the ‘About the Guitar‘ page from the link at the top of this site or noticed the guitar I photographed for the current header design, you may already know that I have indeed acquired this particular guitar through a series of unexpected events. More on that later.


Along with some thoughts on guitar pricing, below you’ll find out why I think there is such an incredible abundance of positive reviews about almost every guitar I’ve researched online.

Amateur Guitar Reviews
In my short history of guitar purchase research, I have come to believe that most amateur guitar reviews are so positive because often the person writing about the guitar, without realizing it, is actually writing about themselves. This is their guitar, the one they play, the one they chose, the one that makes the sounds that their fingers are inducing. It is a part of their identity and they want/need to feel good about their guitar purchase, so…
they do feel good about it. There is nothing really sinister about this behavior, but it is something I try to keep in mind when looking for information or thoughts about any guitar I might be interested in.

Or it could just be that all guitars made now can be safely categorized somewhere between ‘great’ and ‘magnificent’. :-)

Guitar Prices
The price of a guitar can certainly be one indicator of potential quality, but it seems to me in my early searching that price alone absolutely does not determine the quality of an instrument’s sound or it’s playability. I imagine that in modern guitar factories, newer and more consistent production techniques are making it easier to manufacture low cost guitars that sound and play as good or even better than more expensive guitars in some cases.

I get the impression that supply and demand, and careful image management with some guitar brands, are substantial components in the determination of price. Brands known for outputting high quality guitars may indeed be outputting high quality guitars, but it seems obvious that the prices are not merely based on the expense of materials, labor, manufacturing and development costs. I know some woods cost more than others, but we are not talking about bars of gold here.

The Guitar Search Continues
But what do I know?
I don’t even own a guitar as I write this, and I am admittedly leaning towards buying my first guitar online based on price and the greater selection options.

In an ideal world, as most serious guitarists suggest, I am sure we should all be playing extensively with the guitars we are considering buying before we buy them. Though our brains would still be subject to the influence of perceived value according to price and the reputation of the name on the headstock, we would still have a better chance of picking a guitar that has a tone that suits us.

I intend to continue reading and absorbing what I can from other people’s perceptions as I continue my search, but as I’ve mentioned before, I soon hope to become accomplished enough that I would not even consider buying a guitar that I have not yet played.


planet waves humidipak

Planet Waves Humidipak

I knew there had to be some ‘less fun’ things to learn about regarding my upcoming guitar purchase. A guitar’s need for humidity is one of them.

Apparently a certain amount of humidity is a good thing for preserving guitars and keeping them from cracking and falling apart.

On the other hand, too much moisture in the air can cause the wood in a guitar to expand, which is also not good.

When in the US, I live in a very dry, high alpine environment. I might be someone who really needs a humidifying device for any guitars kept there. However, in Kyoto, the opposite problem exists; Kyoto is known for being very hot and humid during the summer.

planet waves guitar humidifier

Planet Waves Guitar Humidifier

The Planet Waves Humidipak product (above) looks like a great solution at first glance, with its promise to provide long term and nearly carefree optimal moisture levels within a guitar case in ‘too dry’ and ‘too moist’ conditions, but there are a few reports online claiming leakage problems and discoloring issues with Humidipaks.

That same company’s guitar humidifier (right) seems to be a safer solution, at least for the dry climate end of the problem, but there is a constant need to continually replenish the water in the sponge within the humidifier’s plastic case. And we are still left with what to do about the ‘wet air’ in Kyoto.

It seems that owning a guitar may provide more maintenance challenges than simply changing broken strings from time to time.

Japanese Guitar Straps
I’m presently more excited about searching for a guitar strap than I am about researching the topic of guitar humidifying devices. For my first guitar I would like to buy a guitar strap reminiscent of the time I spend living in Kyoto each year. I am not having much luck finding anything reflective of the culture here. Many Japanese guitarists really love things that come from America, and many of the guitar straps here are very ordinary or ‘too weird’ looking American products. It is not so easy to find accessories in a Japanese guitar store that look Japanese or that were made in Japan.

Regarding My Ongoing Guitar Search
From my research so far and from what I am drawn to presently, there is a chance the first guitar I end up buying could end up being a Japanese brand guitar that must be purchased in the US, because…
…after being designed in Japan and apparently built in yet a third country, amusingly, the specific Japanese guitar I am considering now is not offered for sale in Japan.

For Those Keeping Score At Home
Guitar search – Fun,
Guitar strap search – Fun,
Guitar humidity balancing device research – Not Fun.