…Moheji being his professional stage name in Japan…here, we know him as Hirokatsu Takai, or to his friends, Hiro!

Hiro gave the 2nd artist’s demonstration on Saturday, Day 2 of our 10th anniversary Harp Guitar Gathering

Stephen suggested Hiro for our very first Foundation-sponsored guest for the 7th Harp Guitar Gathering in Williamsburg.  He stole the show then – and, 3 years later, he stole the show again!

Here he shows delighted surprise simply to be handed his instrument by Stephen.

There is no denying the force of nature that is Hiro. One simply sits back and basks in the glow of his music and his heart and soul, which he wears on his sleeve like no one else I have ever had the pleasure to know.

Here, I can hear him acknowledging “my beautiful producer, Gregg Miner,” which brought tears to my eyes.

He had meticulously prepared in advance all of his comments, thank-yous and announcements in English.  So much thought obviously went into this trip (I can’t even begin to describe his Mary Poppins-like suitcase full of gifts for all of us and our extended families, including even our dogs!).

I’d like to add another observation from having had the unique honor of producing a couple of Hiro’s best pieces: which is how much farther the naturally talented Hiro has come as a musician (he was already a performer!).

Since HGG7, Hiro has appeared on not one, but two of our Harp Guitar Music compilations.  It was not an easy task, with the technical issues of his custom instrument, the long-distance communication/translation challenges, and my well-known “tough love” producing methods.

He did it all with complete professional dedication to his craft, all the while expanding his composing and arranging skills and mastery of his one-of-a-kind instrument.  Did you note the low 5th sub-bass on the koto neck?  I heard that invention long before I saw it (great idea!).  How about his koto-bank string bends done with the same plucking hand?  I didn’t know he could do that! (koto players use two hands)  But especially, the now-constant and effortless interplay of plucked and strummed koto strings with the neck’s fretted strings, harmonics, tapping, you-name-it, to create intricate pieces far greater than the sum of their parts.  He’s really taken it to a whole new level in these last couple years.  From quiet beauty to hurricanes of passion, and completely unique.

And if we could only bottle that infectious joy!

Hiro the musician earned many new fans that weekend, I am certain.

But it always comes back to the man and his spirit.

To know Hiro is to love him.

Here are just a few of some of his old and new friends at HGG10:

with Andy and Kitty Wahlberg

Keith Medley

Don Alder

Carol and Bob Hartman

Muriel Anderson

Bets Swarts and Dan Pease

Nate Blaustein

my brother Mark

Stacy Hobbs

Tom Shinness

Jaci and I

my mom and dad (Viv and Bob)

I don’t know what my mom’s whispering, but I’m sure she’s up to no good.

with Stephen

More Hiro to come in the concerts…but first…

Next up: the one and only Keith Medley and his 27-string Harp Guitar!

HGG10 blog series starts here