Dear Mr. Fritz Kadiddlehopper,
Luthier Masaru MATANO is less known even in Japan. Though he is an old tmer, I had known him nearly 40 years ago.
In 1962 in Kyushu, Masaru MATANO started the production in order to make a Spanish model like Jose Ramirez type. He established his "MEIKO (superior artisan)" factory. He produced not only classical but also accoustic ones. He also advised and supervised "Arai Trading" now called "Aria" brand.
See this Aria 1973 advertisement. Maria Luisa Anido plays an Aria guitar produced by Msaru Matano..
http://www.geocities.jp/zan602/asturias ... ge010.html
In 1981 he stopped his work suddenly and left from the industry completely. The reason is not clear. His factory was handed down to the current "Astrias" brand. When I was young to buy a first fine guitar, I was torn between Matano and Chai brands. I bought a Chai one but still have an attachment for Matano.
I have found one in a net auction. Class 500 1977, Yen 16,000