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The earliest makers of violins in Japan were Sadajiro Matunaga and Masakichi Suzuki (b.1859–d.1944). Both were trained as shamisen makers and began making violins based on instruments brought to Japan toward the end of the 19th century from Western sources, using Japanese pine and maple and sometimes sycamore.
In 1880, proceeding with a Westernization policy, the Japanese government had instituted teacher training programs for lessons in piano, organ, and violin.