Party At 12,000 Feet!

Taking Gretsch’s 130th Anniversary Celebration To New Heights

After criss-crossing the United States to attend a series of events celebrating Gretsch’s 130th anniversary this year, Fred and Dinah Gretsch recently took the celebration international. Following an anniversary show at the Sam Ash store in Hollywood on July 20th, they left Los Angeles on the 22nd for a flight to Tokyo, Japan. Because they crossed the International Date Line they arrived on the 23rd—an auspicious date in itself, since it was Fred Gretsch’s birthday.

The Gretsches were actually in Japan to celebrate two anniversaries. The first is the Gretsch Company’s 130th. The second is the 25th anniversary of Gretsch’s distribution partnership with the Kanda Shokai Company. To make that celebration particularly special, the directors of Kanda Shokai arranged for Fred and Dinah to take part in a unique excursion: a journey to the top of Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji.

Fred Gretsch left at 4:30 a.m. for his ascent of Mt. Fuji. It takes twelve to fourteen hours to make the climb up and down.

And so it was that on July 26 at 4:30 a.m. Fred Gretsch left his hotel for a car trip to a point nearly 8,000 feet up on the mountain. (Dinah followed in a car a bit later to a station at 6,600 feet.) After spending an hour acclimating to the lower air pressure at that elevation, Fred embarked with a Kanda Shokai team and an experienced mountain guide on a six-hour climb to the summit. There—at an elevation of just over 12,000 feet—Fred proudly displayed Gretsch drum and guitar banners to commemorate his accomplishment and celebrate the double anniversary. Then it was another six-hour descent back to the 7,300-foot point and a welcome car ride back to the hotel.

Kanda Shokai has been the Japanese distributor for Gretsch guitars since 1989.  Says Fred Gretsch, “Kanda Shokai was recommended to the Gretsch Family by our long-time associate Duke Kramer. Dinah and I visited Japan several times in 1988 and 1989, and we agreed that Kanda had the product team and know-how to service the Gretsch market in Japan. They first offered Gretsch guitars for sale at the Tokyo show in the fall of 1989. And we’ve been going strong together ever since.”

Dinah Gretsch traveled by car to Mt. Fuji’s 4th station, at 2020 meters (6,300 feet). “It was a three-hour wait to go any higher,” says Dinah. “Beautiful ride.”

Fred Gretsch and Kanda Shokai director Mr. Sakurai at the 8th station, on their way towards the summit.

Fred Gretsch and mountain guide Mr. Watanabe, at the 9th station. “Mr. Watanabe had 100 climbs to his credit,” says Fred. “He was very helpful to the Gretsch/Kanda team in achieving our goal of a successful ascent to the summit.”

Kanda Shokai’s Mr. Asahi and Mr. Shigeta, Fred Gretsch, and guide Mr. Watanabe—proudly displaying Gretsch drum and guitar banners at the summit of Mt. Fuji. Fred is holding a “camp uke” that was signed by all the climbers and will be given away in a lottery by a Japanese guitar magazine.

Fred Gretsch with Kanda Shokai directors Mr. Yokoyama (at left) and Mr. Sakurai.

Fred Gretsch with Kanda Shokai directors Mr. Yokoyama (at left) and Mr. Sakurai.

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