“I came to Japan at the age of 14 and graduated from night junior high school in Fukuoka Prefecture.
He later graduated from Meiji University with a degree in English literature, but his path to becoming an English teacher did not materialize due to his Korean citizenship.
In the midst of his disappointment, he heard a lecture by Hideo Itokawa.
He was touched by the words, “It is impossible to reproduce the famous Stradivarius,” and has since aspired to make violins.”
– What keeps me going in life is my dream of making violins. –
“I’m not going home…” I can’t do my job if you keep me here.”
Please, please, please!”
I was desperate. I repeatedly bowed to him, asking him to take me on as an apprentice.
The violin maker, who was at first pleased to hear of my offer of an apprenticeship, changed his attitude as soon as he learned that I was from Korea.
I’ll show you the pattern, and then you can go home!
I hastily but delicately transcribed everything.
I began to make violins based on the paper molds I had copied.
Of course, it was not so easy to make a violin from scratch on my own.
Of course it was impossible.
This is not a violin at all.
Some dirty guy from Tokyo is here, and he’s making some kind of junk.
Everyone around laughed.
How could a small boy, much less a self-taught one, possibly make the complicated structure of a violin?
However, wherever I went, people refused to take me on as an apprentice, saying, “You are a Korean, right?
Not having been born in Japan, I had no job prospects and was too poor to make ends meet.
I had no home, had to sleep at the station at night, and earned my living by selling gravel from the bottom of the river.
Even with such hardships, I could not simply go back to Japan since I came to Japan alone at the age of 14 with my mother’s tears on my face.
I read every book on violin I could get my hands on.
I tried everything I could think of, from worm powder and cicada husks to human feces.
I even wandered the Amazon jungle in search of wood and dye.
The trials came again and again, and my life was like wandering through a maze with no end in sight.
Still, I pushed on.
Day after day, research after research. It was many, many years.
All in order to make the best violin.
After 33 years had passed, the efforts that had been made over the years, forgetting to eat or sleep, were rewarded with an unprecedented five out of six gold medals in the “American International Musical Instrument Makers’ Competition”.
This was the moment when Jin Chang Heryern’s violin was recognized as the best in the world.”
In 1976, his violin won gold in five out of six categories at the U.S. International Violin, Viola, and Cello Makers’ Competition.
In 1984, he was awarded the title of “Hors Concours” and “Master Maker” by the American Violin Manufacturers Association.
The History of Jin
1956 (Showa 31)
Graduated from Meiji University with a degree in English Literature and taught himself to make violins in Kiso-cho, Kiso-fukujima, Nagano Prefecture
1978 (Showa 51)
Awarded Gold Medal at the International Violin, Viola, and Cello Makers Competition in the U.S.A.
1984 (Showa 59)
Awarded special recognition as an uninspected maker and the title of Master Maker by the American Violin Makers Association. Called the Stradivarius of the Orient.
1998 (Heisei 10)
Awarded the International Art and Culture Award by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Culture
2001 (Heisei 13)
Received the Municipal Technical Achievement Award from Chofu City, Tokyo
2002 (Heisei 14)
Kaikyo o Wataru Violin” (autobiography), Kawade Shobo Shinsha
2005 (Heisei 17)
Honorary town citizen title awarded by the town of Kisofukushima
2007 (Heisei 19)
Kaikyo o Wataru Violin” (autobiography) published by Kawade Bunko
2008 (Heisei 20)
Autobiography published in COSMOS II, a textbook for second-year high school students published by Sanyusha Publishing Co.
2008 (Heisei 20)
Awarded the Mujokka Prize of the National Order of Korea by the Korean government
2012 (Heisei 24)