19 April 2015

Record Shopping in Tokyo - Part 2

Disc Union Shibuya

Last October I wrote a post about my experience of record shopping in Tokyo for the first time. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to to visit Japan at the end of March and in between some work appointments I managed to find a little bit of time to visit a couple of stores one afternoon.

I was in Shibuya on the afternoon that I was free and decided to stay in that area. The first store I visited was the large Recofan, a shop that I went to on my previous visit. I cannot stress enough how large this place is. It’s vast. With racks upon racks containing new and used vinyl, CDs and DVDs. The vinyl section probably accounts for a quarter of the store. I could spend all day going through the rows of records, and as appears to be the case in the record stores that I’ve visited before in Japan, it’s all very well organised. Although they don’t sort their records like they do in the West in an obvious A-Z fashion, once you have got your head around how they do it, it’s becomes pretty easy finding the sections you want.

Recofan, Shibuya

Recofan Shibuya
As in all of the Japanese record stores that I have been to even though language may be a barrier the staff are always friendly and very helpful. Staff members have gone out their way to try and find a particular record or artist for me, and this time around in Recofan the assistant behind the till even threw in some plastic record sleeve protectors free of charge with my purchases. The stores also ask you if you want to check the condition of the vinyl before you buy, which is a nice little touch. But as with all of the records I’ve bought in Japan the vinyl is always in very good condition if not almost mint if we are going to use record collector lingo. They appear to know how to look after their records. Recofan has quickly become one of my all-time favourite record stores. 

I headed straight to the Takeshi Terauchi section and picked up the following. Note another purchase of Let's Go - Eleki Bushi, which seems to have had about three separate releases. Thanks to my friend Stephen for assisting in translating the following album titles. 

Takeshi Terauchi & The Blue Jeans - The Appeal of Country Guitar
Takeshi Terauchi & The Blue Jeans - The Appeal of Country Guitar (1975)
Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans - Complete Collection of Electric Folk Songs
Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans - Complete Collection of Electric Folk Songs (1969)
Takeshi Terauchi & The Bunnys  - Golden Concert
Takeshi Terauchi & The Bunnys  - Golden Concert (1968)
Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans - Let's Go Eleki-Bushi
Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans - Let's Go Eleki-Bushi (re-release, 1978)
Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans - Live In Moscow
Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans - Live In Moscow (1977)
Disk Union, Shibuya
Disck Union Shibuya
Just down the road from Recofan in Shibuya is Disk Union. Disk Union is a large chain of record stores in Tokyo, possibly the largest, with various stores specialising in a particular style or genre of music; you get stores specialising in rock and pop, metal, jazz, classic, vinyl and so on.

The store in Shibuya was split over multiple floors with each floor focusing on a different style of music. I headed for the top floor which is where the rock and pop vinyl was stocked. Much like their store in Shinjuku that I visited previously, the selection here was much smaller than in Recofan and the majority of the stock appeared to be made up of Western music, both Japanese and US / European versions, rather than Japanese music, which Recofan had much more of. I didn’t see any new vinyl either, just second hand stuff, but that’s not to say that they don’t do new vinyl, I just didn’t come across any in the section of the store that I was in. Compared to their Shinjuku branch I much preferred this particular store.

After having a good rummage around and not really seeing much that caught my eye, I eventually stumbled across an amazing picture disc of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s recent album Pika Pika Fantajin. I’m a big fan of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and have written about her before on this blog. In fact, this visit to Japan was almost exactly a year to the day I visited in March 2014 when I was first introduced to her music. I liked that coincidence and took it as a sign that I should buy the album - even though I previously bought the CD version from Tower Records. I’m not a huge fan of picture discs but I enjoy the grotesque humour in this one and I think the image nicely sums of the oft-overlooked satirical nature in Kyary’s music. 

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - Pika Pika Fantajin Picture Disc
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - Pika Pika Fantajin Picture Disc (2014)
What always surprises me is how cheap the Takeshi Terauchi records are. They all ranged in price between £4 to £10 at the most. The Takeshi Terauchi records that I bought on this visit cost the the same price in total as just that one Kyary Pamyu Pamyu picture disc, roughly £18. It could be that no one knows who he is and there isn’t a demand for his records or perhaps in Japan there is just an abundance of them. The Takeshi Terauchi records that I am interested in buying are his 1960s to mid 70s records - from what I’ve heard the later one’s lack the excitement of those early records and suffer from rather ropey ‘period’ production like horrible synths. Despite there being numerous records of his, Rashomon still remains elusive.

It’s a shame that I didn’t have much time to visit other stores or to spend longer in the two that I did visit, but I am happy with my purchases. Also, if I had more time I probably would’ve bought more and my suitcase would have been dangerously overweight - it’s easy to forget how heavy vinyl records are. 

Tokyo really is a vinyl lovers paradise - the wealth of shops is overwhelming, not to mention the vast amount of records available. I would love to have had more time to really explore the city's multiple record stores.

Bonus Track:

Tower Records, Namba, Osaka
I also visited Osaka for the first time during this particular trip to Japan. I was only there for two very busy days and didn't have any free time at all. There was however a Tower Records very close to my hotel and even though I didn't have any intention of buying any records while in Osaka, I thought that it would have been rude to pass it without at least popping it. I had a wander around, and much like the one in Shibuya, Tokyo, it was huge, spread over multiple floors each dedicated to a particular style of music. Below is a photo I took of their Taylor Swift display on one of the aisles. 

Taylor Swift display in Tower Records Osaka
Taylor Swift display in Tower Records Osaka, March 2015
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post - planning a trip to Tokyo in a month and wanted to have a day of record shopping! Pointed me to a few good places with these two parts.