Japan town offers tax donors a ‘fish box guitar’

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Stephen Faulk, right, with Akune Mayor Yoshimasa Nishihira, who is holding Faulk’s “fish box” guitar

By Kazuhiro Shiraishi / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterAKUNE, Kagoshima — The Akune city government added a guitar made out of a fish packing box to its list of gifts for those who donate money to the city under the furusato nozei local tax donation scheme.

The unusual instruments, in the style of cigar box guitars, are crafted by American guitar maker Stephen Faulk, 54, who lives in Akune on the island of Kyushu. He recycles boxes — known in Japanese as toro-bako — in which fish caught in the city are shipped. The items are expected to be desirable gifts to promote the fishing city.

Under the furusato nozei system, taxpayers may donate some of their local tax payments to a locality other than the one in which they live. Some local governments offer gifts to reward such donations.

Faulk met his wife in the United States and moved to her hometown of Akune about five years ago. He is a luthier who makes classical and flamenco guitars. Toro-bako caught his eye about two years ago, and he thought of making them into guitars to help revitalize the city.

The rectangular fish box guitar has three strings, like a shamisen. Fish that are significant catches in the city, such as blue sprat and sardines, are depicted on its front side.

The guitars became popular as interesting items that are unique to Akune. A city government official in charge of commerce and tourism asked Faulk to let the city list the guitars as gift items for furusato nozei payers and then included them in the list on July 23 along with his classic and flamenco guitars.

The tax to be donated for a fish box guitar is ¥135,000 or more, and ¥2 million or more for a classic or flamenco guitar. Production time may vary depending on the number or type of orders.

The city has offered gifts under the scheme since fiscal 2015, and it collected ¥48 million from 4,004 contributors in fiscal 2017. Faulk’s guitars bring the number of Akune’s gift items to 100.

For more information, call the city’s commerce and tourism department at (0996) 73-1114.Speech

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