Toshihiko Takamizawa Interview from the May 23 issue of Shukan Bunshun (Weekly Magazine Bunshun)

The sound of the sacred tree played by Toshihiko Takamizawa

  Toshihiko Takamizawa aka Prince (O.Z.Y.) is a member of THE ALFEE that marks the 45th anniversary of their debut this year. He has owned 546 guitars indeed. Recently two guitars were added to the collection, but to my surprise, they were made of the sacred trees of the Ground Shrine of Ise.

  The “sacred trees” are over 800-year-old trees grown on the premises of the Ground Shrine of Ise. The guitars were made of a secret cedar tree, which was uprooted by the Ise Bay Typhoon in 1959 (Showa 34). A person had kept it with great care since then, and gave it to Takamizawa this time.

“At first I felt like it was too presumptuous to use such a sacred tree. But the person kindly agreed to our request while saying ‘If the tree can offer prayers for peace through your playing music, [please use it].’ Tamo trees (Fraxinus mandshurica, a type of ash tree) cut in the forest of the Ground Shrine of Ise were used for the body, and the sacred cedar tree for decoration. This was the first time for me to use a Tamo tree for my guitar, but it generated surprisingly good sounds. So I thought probably it was a sign that the god had descended to the guitar, haha.”

  This spring Takamizawa was awarded the title of Knight Officer of Saint Agatha from the Republic of San Marino.

  “I like the country because it is the world’s oldest republic, but has never experienced a war... and it is a nation without an army. Since I read ‘Why Japan is admired by the world’ - a book written by Ambassador Cadelo of the Republic of San Marino to Japan - and became interested in it, I found opportunities and rooted for the country.”

  As a matter of fact, there is a Shinto shrine in the Republican of San Marino, which is a branch shrine of the Grand Shrine of Ise.

  “I feel fate with Ise Shrine. I turned 65 and now I am a full-fledged early elderly, but I have to keep working harder because I became a knight.”

  We might be able to hear the sound of the Ise Shrine guitar in the concert tour now underway (THE ALFEE 2019 spring)!?