Violinist in Hiroshima by Hachimarukan

The young man in this small snapshot is wearing a military tunic with no insignia.  He may have been serving as a musician in the Imperial Japanese Army.  The photo is blank on the back, so it’s hard to say when it was taken, but I’d guess it was printed in the 1930s.

At the bottom right of the photo is an embossed stamp (blind stamp) with the words “Hiroshima” and “Hachimarukan.”  Presumably, Hachimarukan was the name of the photographer, but I haven’t found any information about him online.

Musician in Hiroshima by Hachimarukan 2


Further reading:

Margaret Mehl, “Going Native, Going Global: The Violin in Modern Japan,” The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol. 12, Issue 48, Number 3 (November 26, 2014)


32 thoughts on “Violinist in Hiroshima by Hachimarukan

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    1. That’s an excellent question, Isabelle. I don’t have much experience with Japanese photos, so it’s mostly just a guess. The photo could have been taken during the war, but I’ve looked at some Japanese wartime photos, and the uniforms differ from this one. Also, wartime photos were printed in large numbers, because of the large number of men serving, and I haven’t seen any photographers’ stamps on them, which leads me to think that the military used its own photographers in wartime, rather than hiring civilian photographers. This is just speculation on my part. Thank you for asking–it’s good to reexamine my assumptions. Enjoy the Norwegian summer!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks so much for taking time to give me such a detailed answer, Brad! There’s a kind of serenity and quiet on his face that makes wonder whether he was originally a musician. The violin gives a good indication. Have a good day and catch up soon!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you mentioned that, Morgaine. I bought the photo in this post from the same seller, so the two photos may have been taken at the same time. It’s the only other photo by Hachimarukan that I’ve seen. (I should have bought it!) Eventually eBay will take down the listing, so I may add the image to the comments here. One of the two men is wearing a tunic like the violinist is wearing. The other fellow is wearing a very different outfit, which is interesting in itself. (Why didn’t I buy it?! A collector’s eternal lament. 🙄)


  1. I always end up following an assortment of trails after seeing your photos. This one was especially evocative; I had no idea that violinists were so common in Japan. It’s an association I wouldn’t have made. The oddest detail I found is that violinists sometimes provided music at movie houses — that really surprised me. I don’t know what kind of music I expected, but that wasn’t it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The article was quite a rabbit hole, wasn’t it? The author wrote a whole book on the subject. When I was in elementary school, I took violin lessons for a while, and we used the Suzuki Method, so I have a longstanding association of violins with Japan. I knew very little about the history, though. I did know that good-quality, affordable Japanese violins have been imported into the United States since the 19th century, making the instrument accessible to more people here.


    1. Thanks, C.J.! The corner of the table creates an interesting abstract shape, which is repeated in the angle of the man’s elbow. Also, the neck of the violin runs parallel to the edge of the table, and the man’s eyes are on a plane parallel to both. It seems like a simple portrait but there’s a lot going on!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tragically, so many artists and musicians are also innocent casualties of war. Photos which survived like this must have been treasured by families in the aftermath. Thank you for preserving and sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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