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Notebook on Cities and Culture S3E5: A Decent Banger with Josh Parkin

Colin Marshall sits down in Nakatsu, Osaka, Japan with guitarmaker Josh Parkin proprietor of Josh Parkin Guitars. They discuss how the intensity of Japanese enthusiasm extends to guitar-playing; how Japanese friends in London urged him not to set up shop in Tokyo, but in Osaka; his early life in Yorkshire, “the English Kansai,” where he made his first attempts to build and modify guitars; the importance of finding the best handmade pickups and of learning to see the difference between .2 and .3 millimeters; the excellence of Japanese manufacturing, and its somewhat less impressive mastery of anthropometrics; his working life on Denmark Street, the center of London guitarmaking, and why he decided not to open his own business there; his travels through Asia before moving to Japan, which began in India and eventually found him homeless in Beijing; what it takes for a foreigner to open a business in Osaka (besides a few years off that foreigner’s life); the impossibility of finding a decent banger in Japan; his dissatisfaction with the usual foreigner’s job of teaching English, because it wasn’t making guitars; his work with Tim Olive and experience of the Japanese noise scene, which seems to spring from within the culture rather than interpreting traditions outside it; the way everything in Japan gets easier after six months, except perhaps dealing with the ward office; Japanese-style obsessive drive as a necessity of guitarmaking, no matter where you do it; and his dream job of building a guitar according only to the player’s musical style.

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