31 October 2015

Record Shopping in Tokyo - Part 3

Record Shopping in Tokyo
Records bought on this trip by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Takeshi Terauchi
This month I was back in Japan on a business trip. I was fortunate enough again to visit both Tokyo and Osaka. As with previous work trips to Japan, I had a little bit of time between appointments to be able to visit a few record stores. 
My time in Tokyo was very limited this time meaning I didn't have the opportunity to hunt out any new stores out of the 400-plus record stores that are in Tokyo. I used my time to visit two that I have been too previously, one of which is probably one of the best records that I have ever been to. 

Recofan in Shibuya
Recofan in Shibuya
I managed to pay a couple of visits to Recofan in Shibuya. The first my time was very limited so after taking the lift up to the 4th floor of the Shibuya Beam building I immediately shot to the left and made my way where I remembered the Takeshi Terauchi records are. The selection was a bit more diverse than previously and I picked up an interesting looking record of his I hadn’t seen anywhere else before. It had a greying image of a married couple and Terry sitting on the steps below them with his guitar. My initial thought was that it was the elusive Rashomon LP, especially as the colours of the cover are very similar. It turns out the record is from a year later, 1974 and feels very much like it is part of a similar period. It has some seriously heavy jams on it and when I get a minute I will probably write a few words about it.   

As I usual when I visit Tokyo I was staying in Shinjuku. I hadn’t really had much success previously of visiting the many record stores in this area. Either due to time constraints, or due to iffy directions and Google Maps not being 100% accurate with Japanese address conventions, I have instead spent a lot of time walking up and down alleyways craning my neck with my eyes fixed upwards trying to find stores that apparently should have been there but just weren't. I did previously pop in to the Shinjuku branch of Disc Union which was just as impressive and well-stocked as its Shibuya counterpart.

This time I had read (I frustratingly can’t find the link now) that there was a record store on a road I was familiar with as I had stayed on a couple of hotels on it previously. So I marked on my paper map where the store was supposed to be according to the blog and Google Maps and took a stroll out to it. I ended up walking from Shinjuku to Yoyogi Station and back again along the road keeping my eyes out, but I was unable to find it. Tokyo has buildings on top of buildings and it’s easy to miss places especially if they’re small units and not well sign-posted. If you happen to be reading this post and know the store that I am on about, do let me know where it is

Disc Union in Shibuya
Disc Union in Shibuya
The following day was a Saturday and I had a couple of hours in the morning to myself after catching up with a few emails and so took the JR to Shibuya. In Shibuya, both Disc Union and Recofan are a couple of minutes’ walk from each other - very handy when time is limited.

I made my way up the stairs in Disc Union to the floor that has the second-hand vinyl. As with all of the record stores that I have visited in Japan they use their space well. Shelves and bins are stacked high and all usable space is utilised. The amount of stock is always impressive if a little overwhelming at times, and the lack of floorspace can make navigating around the shop floors a little cumbersome at times, especially when they are busy, as was this case on this Saturday morning. 

Popol Vuh records in Shibuya branch of Disc Union
Popol Vuh record in Shibuya branch of Disc Union
Disc Union had had a little shuffle around of their stock since my last visit, although as they label their sections in English as well as Japanese, it was soon easy enough to get my bearings. I didn’t really have anything in mind that I wanted to buy, I just went for a browse more than anything.

I know Japan is known as a collectors market, but the sheer wealth of stuff they had was ridiculous. Loads of ‘classic rock’ stuff including insane amounts of records by the like of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones. In fact, British rock from the 60s, 70s, and even the 80s, seems to be something a lot of the second hand record stores specialise in. As a Krautrock fan it was exciting to see first pressings of stuff by the likes of Can, Neu!, Kraftwerk, Amon Dull II, records that I had only ever seen listed on eBay or Discogs or in limited amounts in second-hand stores. 

If you are looking to pick up some Japanese artists on vinyl Disc Union probably isn’t the place. Or I should say, its selection is much smaller than in other record stores that I have visited. Although they did come good this time and they had all of the just issued Kyary Pamyu Pamyu albums on vinyl. Part of me wanted to pick them all up, but I went for Namba Collection in the end. They also had this interesting looking Moomins record that I now regret not picking up. 

Moomins record in Shibuya branch of Disc Union
Moomins record in Shibuya branch of Disc Union
After Disc Union I headed up to road to Recofan. The store is more like a warehouse with endless aisles of records and CD’s. I even found their LaserDisc stash this time around. They were all listed at 100 Yen each and even though I don’t have anything to play them on I do kind of regret not picking some up at that price. You never know, I could have used the opportunity to start up a LaserDisc film club in Nottingham. 

LazerDiscs in Recofan
LazerDiscs in Recofan
The store is sort of split in to two sections: As you go in, on the left is the Japanese-related stock, Classical, and bargain bins; while the much larger right-hand side houses the new releases, CDs, and various genres such as hip-hop, 60s/70s/80s, pop. And there’s loads with much of it very reasonably priced, and from what I could tell and from previous experience, most is in pretty decent condition too. I spent a bit more time looking around this section on the right hand side than I have done on previous visits and if I was up for a good old crate dig I would have had a field day. As it was, time was limited (as was money and space in my suitcase) so I just had a little stroll among the aisles having a flick through the racks every now and again. 

Recofan in Shibuya
Recofan in Shibuya
I did end up picking up a couple more Takeshi Terauchi records for my friend back home. I should also add that the store had a sale on and those bargain bins were busy with shoppers studiously going through every record in every bin. That’s dedication.

The staff have always appeared very friendly in Recofan (as well as all the other stores that I’ve visited in Japan I hasten to add) and even with my lack of Japanese and their lack of English I have been able to get by. At the till they always offer if you want to get the record out of the sleeve and take a look before handing over your money. They also always throw in those plastic record sleeve protectors too. I also spied a little section tucked away at the back where they had a couple of turntables set up with brushes attached to the arms instead of needles, and they were using these to clean the records. Impressive. 

Recofan in Shibuya
Recofan in Shibuya

Although I was able to pick up a few records and hit up a couple of decent stores, I’m still a bit gutted that I didn’t have time to hunt down a couple of record stores in Tokyo that I haven’t had chance to visit yet. 

I went to Osaka after Tokyo on this trip to Japan. I have written a post about visiting a handful of record stores in Osaka here

Read my previous posts about Record Store shopping in Japan below: 
Record Shopping in Tokyo - Part 1 
Record Shopping in Tokyo - Part 2

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1 comment:

snarnok said...

I wish More people in the UK/US knew about Takeshi Terauchi. As Don Wilson of The Ventures said: "What is big in Japan, stays in Japan".