Fender debuts limited-run Sakuraburst MIJ Hybrid II Stratocaster – and this one’s actually available outside of Japan

Fender Made in Japan Hybrid II Stratocaster Limited Run Sakuraburst
(Image credit: Fender)

We’ve long maintained that Japan gets all the coolest Fender electric guitars. Unafraid to experiment with aesthetics and specs, The Big F’s Japanese division takes the kind of risks we just don’t see from Fender USA, and often with drool-worthy results.

Yet many of these instruments are limited solely to the Japanese market, meaning they rarely venture outside their country of origin. Which is why Fender Japan’s latest launch is so exciting.

This month, Fender unveiled an exclusive finish, Sakuraburst, for its latest Made in Japan Hybrid II Stratocaster Limited Run. The stunning ’burst design is inspired by Japanese cherry blossom (cherry trees are also known as sakura, dontcha know), but the most notable feature of this model is its availability: last April, it was a Japan-only online exclusive. A year later, it’s available in Europe.

For anyone lusting after Fender Japan’s exquisite instruments, that’s an exciting development. Particularly as it’s newly listed on Fender’s UK and Europe sites alongside the Hybrid II HSS Stratocaster (a Strat with a reverse Tele headstock, first made available in Japan back in May 2022).

Fender CEO Andy Mooney was candid about Fender Japan’s plans in our exclusive interview earlier this year, stating, “We’re going continue to develop MIJ guitars for outside of Japan,” but these latest developments point towards an increased likelihood of these guitars at the very least reaching Europe – hopefully the USA is next.

Anyway, back to the Strat at hand. Besides the can’t-look-away finish, the Sakuraburst is, on the surface, a pretty regular Stratocaster. You’ve got your alder body, modern C-shaped maple neck with satin finish and 9.5”-radius rosewood fingerboard with narrow tall frets.

The key differences lie in the Hybrid II Custom Voiced single coils, which promise higher-output tones to befit the modern appearance, while the two-point tremolo and vintage locking tuners are a premium touch. There’s adjustment of neck and bridge/middle pickup tones via the two tone controls, too.

It’s likely the Sakuraburst’s availability outside of Japan is something of a test bed for future releases, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed it sells well, because we’d sure love to see some of Fender Japan’s more daring creations make their way to these shores – we still daydream about the high-spec Elemental Series on a regular basis.

The Made in Japan Hybrid II Stratocaster Limited Run Sakuraburst is available now in the UK and Europe for £1,299 (approx $1,600) – see Fender.com for more info.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as more than 20 years performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.