In 1894, Tokutaro Yanagisawa started repairing imported wind instruments for the military band. This quickly evolved into a fully-fledged woodwind instrument factory. In 1951, Tokutaro's son, Takanobu built his first prototype saxophone. Since then, Yanagisawa has remained a family company
Initially Yanagisawa exported saxophones under various distributor's names. However, in 1978, the 800 series models were introduced, which became the first Yanagisawa saxophones exported under Yanagisawa's own name.
The 500 series was introduced to the student/intermediate market. The Yanagisawa name soon became known for the impeccable workmanship, accurate intonation, and playability of its products. With the growth of Yanagisawa's reputation, interest in finding Yanagisawa instruments sold under other brands has become heightened in the used instrument market.