No. 1055



One of the world’s greatest engravers decided to try his hand at counterfeiting. He made up his mind that he would make a perfect copy of a $50 bill. He spent weeks on the plates. Every line, every dot was copied exactly. Then, he printed a million dollars’ worth. But, the first time he tried to cash one, he was arrested by a Secret Service agent. He said to the agent, “I am one of the world’s greatest engravers. I am sure nobody can tell the difference between the original and my copy. How could you tell that my bills were counterfeit”? “Well, it was very easy” the agent said. “You made a perfect copy of a counterfeit $50 bill.”
There is one thing for sure, when it comes to being an original, there is no one on earth like Shoji Tabuchi, the Japanese American fiddler and singer who currently performs in his theater, The Shoji Tabuchi Theatre, in Branson, Mo.
Shoji Tabuchi was born April 16, 1944, in Daishoji, Ishikawa, Japan. When he turned 7, his mother encouraged him to play the violin under the Suzuki Method. Tabuchi always loved American country music and vowed that one day he would make it to America. For him, this was a dream that would come true.
His big break came in the mid-1960s when he was a sophomore in college. He heard that Roy Acuff of the Grand Old Opry was coming to Osaka, Japan. Tabuchi went to this concert and met Acuff backstage. Acuff told Tabuchi that if he was ever in Nashville to look him up. Acuff’s music inspired him to pursue country/bluegrass music. Sometime later he decided to travel to America with only his violin and $500 to his name. He would live and work in several American cities, and he eventually moved to Nashville to meet Acuff. Acuff was true to his word and arranged an appearance for the young Japanese fiddler on the Grand Ole Opry, where he later made numerous appearances.
He would kick around the country for a while performing and working for other people. In about 1980 he moved to Branson, Mo., where he was still working for others. A little prior to 1990 he took a gamble and built one of Branson’s most elaborate theaters, where he has now been performing for more than 25 years.
If you did not already know, this is really one of those “Only in America” kind of stories shared by so many others who came from distant lands and made it big because of freedom, our unique form of government and American free enterprise that provides opportunities unlike anywhere else in the world.
In the early days, my wife Janis had a personal encounter with Shoji. About 1985 he was traveling through Conway, his truck broke down near Pickles Gap Village and he came to their place looking for help. Her late husband Ralph took him to Conway, where he bought some parts to repair his truck and got him back on the road. Later, when they were guests for his performance in Branson, he introduced them to this audience as Mr. and Mrs. Pickles Gap.
I first heard Shoji Tabuchi perform soon after he moved into his new theater when our Sunday school class went to Branson and took in his show. We were all impressed with his tremendous talent and showmanship, but what really impressed me was his patriotism. He truly loves America, and after the trip we could not stop talking about him. I am sure his personal magnetism and talent is what helped him succeed and reach the very top in his chosen profession. For me, what is even more exciting is that more than 200 people now have a job in Branson because of his success. That is very special and he is very special.
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