diggin’ in NYC -update October 2015

things move fast in NYC. Faster than a devoted collector can handle sometimes. On my last safari in NYC I noticed that an update to  diggin’ in NYC -top 5 record shops-is necessary. Quite a walk!

 academy records 1

New location checked 12th October 2015

 

Academy Records Annex

85 Oak Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222

0718-218-8200

USA

A year ago my favourite recordshop re-located to Oak Street, a few blocks more up north. It’s quite a walk from the subway but the scenics of the river and the skyline of Manhattan on a clear sunny day are just mindblowing.

Change trains at Union Square Station for L Train, stop Bedford Avenue. Leave the subway, cross the street and go down to Berry Street, then continue along the waterfront.  Long walk but soothing after the huzz&buzz of Manhattan, quite unreal. It felt like stepping out in a different world onto a movie set.

academy records 2
academy records annex

The new Academy Annex is airy with high ceilings, nice wide spacing of bins, even a few listening posts. Second hand vinyl galore here…although not as huge in stock as in bygone days. The shop remains a well recommended address in NYC with daily fresh supply at reasonable prices. I dug the broad selection of vinyl in every genre.Rare vintage records abundant on display on the walls. A limited supply of new produced vinyl in the rock genre is available. The extra attraction are the ‘dollarbins’; -3 for $ 5 second hand vinyl. Many DJs search for house 12” and disco classics here.

 

rough trade NYC
rough trade NYC

Rough Trade NYC

64 North 9th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249

0718-388-4111

USA

 

Housed in a big old warehouse along the quays of the East River a new branch of the famed UK record label Rough Trade opened within walking distance of Academy Annex.  A big record shop on the main floor, and a concert hall as extra attraction. British indie bands and a wide variety of American artists find a shelter here at night. See the signs on the walls for a daily calendar.

The shop is huge and looks like a cocoon of hi- polished metal stands filled with the latest import and 180 grams vinyl reissues !! An exemplary stocked selection of all brand new published vinyl in all genres. Rough Trade rules the bins here for sure but what a highly surprising  selection of music can be found. There is even one tiny square meter of selected vintage vinyl, for serious cratediggers only.

Diggin’ in Japan; vol 6 Osaka Dec 2014 by MP Flapp

 

in addition to MP Flapp’s previous post on diggin’ in Japan here is his report on Osaka.

see also Diggin’ in Japan; vol 5 Tokyo Dec 2014 by MP Flapp

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Next stop Osaka.

Osaka is just over three hours from Tokyo by shinkansen. Unlike Tokyo Shin-Osaka where the shinkansen arrives is about 20 minutes from downtown Osaka by metro. Namba is a recommended spot to find a hotel as two large groupings of records stores exist in this area. The first is roughly between Shinsaibashi and Yotsubashi metro stations. The second is south-west of the main Namba railway station. Between the two there are in excess of twenty record stores. A third area with about five stores exists just south of Nakazakicho metro station.

Complementing the stores, from 26th December for four days, the Hanshin Department Store at Umeda plays host to a record fair. Recommended for the fact many stores not based in Osaka are represented at the fair. The stores from Osaka who sell at the fair tend to use it as a means to offload excess stock at sensible prices. It is still worth visiting the stores in person as many of the more obtuse or rare records remain in store and not at the fair. The fair is a bit different to European fairs in the organised loosely by genre/theme across a number of tables. None of the sellers are present, but their stock is tagged up according. You basically build up a pile of records from across all the sellers. Go to the inspection area where you can check the records, returning any that are not up to scratch. Then proceed to the check-out areas where you pay for and get your finds bagged. A bit odd the first time you do it, but I have to say it is fairly efficient.

Osaka  shop 1

Possibly the biggest difference between Tokyo and Osaka for record shopping is that there is less need for public transport. You can for the most part walk between stores and as such Osaka is a fairly laid back shopping experience. The shops are as equally well stocked as Tokyo, but there are just slightly less of them.

Some recommendations? Bamboo Music is closest to Nakazakicho metro station and a little out of the way, but is always worth a visit for the Jazz, soul and funk based selection. One of those stores with something for every pocket and quite a few titles you only ever see on-line. At the other end of town near Namba station you’ll find Naka Records. The store is a good starting point for the area as it often has a map for the other stores in the vicinity, and is a great source of lounge, easy and Japanese 45s. A short walk from Naka you’ll find Wild One Records. A delight of a store for Folk and Progressive rock music fans. The store is sensibly priced and has something for every pocket. Heading up to Shinsaibashi there is a great little club based music port of call called Rare Groove Records. Again the shop stocks a great range of LPs, 12s and 45s. They also have flyer map for the other stores in that area, a number of which are in the same building. A short walk from here and close to Yotsubashi metro station you’ll find Maru Ka Batsu. The store has existed for some years and has a great stock of 80s focused punk, alternative and industrial music. It’s well stocked in other areas too, but the aforementioned genres are always a distinct highlight. I often make this the last top of the day as at the end of the street the store is on you’ll find craft beer bar Kamikaze. It’s always a pleasure to drink there at the end of the day.

 

As short as this piece is you’ve probably guessed that with not too much effort and a bit of time it’s possible to discover a fantastic range of stores with an equally eclectic stock of records at a range of prices that makes record collecting available to every type of buyer. It’s not all about finding super rare records for three figure sums of money, but discovering new music that excites you and at a price you can afford. Saying that, if luck’s on your side you might just find that grail along the way by chance…

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Notes:

  1. The for the Japanese record map book is http://recordmap.com/
  2. List of Five Independent stores in Tokyo. All of the following stores can easily be found via Google. Flash Disc Ranch and Yellow Pop both in Shimo-Kitazawa. Record Sya in Jinbouchou. Sonota (aka Manual of Errors) and El Sur Records both in Shibuya.
  3. List of Five Independent stores in Osaka. All of the following stores can easily be found via Google. Bamboo Records, Naka Records, Wild One Records, Rare Groove Records and Maru Ka Batsu
  4. For Sound Cafe Dzumi check https://www.facebook.com/SoundCafedzumi or www.dzumi.jp
  5. Two recommend craft beer bars that do a fine range of food in Osaka are as follows: Craft Beer Works Kamikaze (see http://www.cbw-kamikaze.com/) and Lezzet Craft Beer & Food Experience Bar (see http://ameblo.jp/lezzetcraftbeer)
  6. The Record Sale. A good resource for finding information on occasional record sales is http://www.oneboxrecordfair.com/. As well as organising the One Box Record Fair the site highlights other similar events.
  7. One record sale well worth investigating if you are in Tokyo on 14th and 15th Feb. 2015 is organised by Enan formally of the Turntable store. The details of the record fair are at https://www.facebook.com/Turntable-Tokyo/. This one takes place in a rented space, so is a little bit bigger than a bar sale. A short clip of one of Enan’s previous events is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJQQZBjpUKo
  8. ??????????

Diggin’ in Japan; vol 5 Tokyo Dec 2014 by MP Flapp

today brings an exciting post by guest editor MP Flapp who recently came back fully loaded from a trip to Japan and who is so generous to share his experiences on this blog. Regard it as an additional update to the published previous posts of diggin’ in Japan. First up is his report on Tokyo, next post will cover Osaka.

see also diggin’ in Japan vol 1; Tokyo record shops 

see also diggin’ in Japan vol 2; Osaka finds 

see also diggin’ in Japan, vol 3; One Box Record Fair Tokyo 

see also diggin’ in Japan vol 4-El Sur Records Tokyo-interview with Takashi Harada (translation in Japanese)

MP Flapp in Tokyo Dec 14

Diggin’ for gold in Tokyo -December 2014

by guest editor MP Flapp

Sometimes the best trips to look for records happen more by chance than design. This is one of those. It’s December and the year is running out. I’ve still not taken a proper holiday. Where’s best place to go to score some vinyl, chill a little, eat well and tactically avoid the commercial excesses of the season? It might come as a surprise that Japan would be the answer.

It’s actually a good time to go. It’s out-with the regular tourist season, the flights tend to be a bit cheaper, the hotels tend not to be fully booked, the shinkansen trains not overly busy, the weather can have an autumnal air, the shops are open every day and many record stores have end of year sales combined with the fact they pull out their top stock for the lure of the salary man’s bonus.

I’ve been to Japan more than once to buy records, so have a collection of maps and notes put together over the years with some valuable local assistance as a starting point. Having someone locally to point you in the right direction helps a lot, like anywhere else shops open, close and move, so one year’s good spots don’t necessary hold true for the next.

Until a few years ago the best guide to finding stores was the “Record Map”, a Japanese text only book detailing the locations of record and CD stores in almost every city in the country. It was never fully comprehensive, but as a guide it was invaluable. It ceased to be published in 2013. However, a sign that interest in stores and buying used music may be picking up is that the book is back on the shelves as a new and updated edition as of December 2014. The publication date was a bit late for this expedition as I was already on the ground when the book hit the shops.

This trip I’ve decided to focus on two locations: Tokyo and Osaka. Fly in to Tokyo spend some days there, travel to Osaka for a few more days, then return to Tokyo for a couple of days, before flying home on New Year’s Eve.

In my opinion, even if you drive, the best way to get between and around these cities is with the aid of the JR Rail Pass. Once you have the pass (the voucher is bought in advance of travelling to Japan) you are free to travel on any JR train. There are some exceptions with travelling on the shinkansen. The pass isn’t valid for a small number of superfast trains. However, the majority of shinkansen you can travel on by just making a reservation prior to boarding.

One thing I did differently to previous trips was to take a cheap Wi-Fi enabled tablet device. Given the short notice of the trip all I had was a rough plan with nothing fixed. Unlike a number of other countries cafes and bars tend not to have free Wi-Fi. All the hotels I stayed in had free Wi-Fi. So with this in mind all I did was firm up a plan for the day the night before and make sure any maps and the like were in an off-line form for browsing on the hoof.

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Tokyo

For the first few days in Tokyo I usually focus on three main areas: Shibuya (with a side trip to Shimokitazawa), Shinjuku and Ochanomizu (with a side trip on foot to Jinbouchou). It’s a fairly easy circle of stores on the metro and in each of the areas there are enough shops dominated by the spread of Disk Unions to make finding your feet and common titles fairly easy. Disk Union is the dominant used music chain in Tokyo. However, in the vicinity of the stores in Shinjuku and Ochanomizu there are some other great independent stores well worth checking. Sadly a few of the regular spots in the Jinbouchou area (Turntable for example) have closed.

Although at least in Turntable’s case the entity still exists. Admittedly off the high street. Enan (the former proprietor of Turntable), having shut the physical store still operates privately and through the pop-up one day record sale. I made it to one such record sale in Jinbouchou. The record sales are usually held in a bar or small hall for one day with a few sellers offering a limited set of stock from boxes. The sale is usually wrapped in a very social setting with both sellers and buyers soundtracking the event by playing records for each other whilst discussing music. More of a house party style event in a bar than a formal record fair. The sales seem to be a welcome new trend, with the stock available and those selling varying from event-to-event.

There have been some changes in the records available and the prices since my last trip. As of 1st April 2014 sales tax went up to 8%. It’s often possible to see the price less tax and with tax on the price sticker on the record. Very few stores add the tax on unexpectedly, so what you see on the sticker is the price. One type of record I collect is the Japanese vinyl editions of what might be classed as well known releases (David Bowie, Brian Eno, Scott Walker etc). These are the LP versions wrapped by an OBI strip round the cover with an insert or booklet specifically made for the edition. Complete, these records would appear to have become much harder to find over the years and a bit more expensive than they used to be. There are a few that have eluded me for more than one trip now. A complete copy of Fripp and Eno’s “Evening Star” in theory should be relatively straightforward to score. It isn’t. There are plenty of clean copies of great titles at super cheap prices, but complete top copies are becoming a challenge.

That said there is no shortage of records from about every conceivable geographical location and genre available in almost every store. There are some highly specialist stores that focus on a specific range of music, but in general most stores are across the board. It’s the main reason I come. It’s not just the availability and price of records (which is usually very competitive), but the fact you can zip round town on public transport and without really trying visit anywhere between ten and fifteen stores in any one day and do the same again the next without covering the same ground twice.

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Some recommendations? It goes without saying any of the Disk Unions are worth visiting. The stock turns over frequently and there is always a good range of records for every pocket. Of the independent stores in Shibuya I would recommend a visit to both Sonota (aka Manual of Errors) and El Sur Records. The former is a haven for the most obtuse mondo style records you’ve ever seen whilst the later has a broad range of world music with a healthy selection of African recordings (more CDs and less vinyl these days). One stop on the Keio Line on the express train from Shibuya is Shimokitazawa. Two notable spots here are Flash Disc Ranch for the selection of US used records combined with the sensible pricing policy and Yellow Pop whist not big is always good for turning up 80s alternative titles in top condition. The best Disk Union for Jazz is at Ochanomizu. A short walk from there in Jinbouchou is Record Sya. The store has existed on three floors for many years and is a great source for Japanese releases across almost every genre.

After all the digging for records you probably want a music related break for a drink. Tokyo has a wealth of unique music related café/bars. It’s really just a matter of finding them that is often the problem. Very few of these are often at street level and hence noticeable is passing. One distinct highlight of this trip was a visit to Sound Cafe Dzumi in Kichijoji. An upper floor haven for improvised and free jazz stoked with music and literature from the proprietors (Izumi Hideki) own archive. In addition to the Free Music Archive making regular radio broadcasts from the café they host frequent live performances.

 

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Notes:

  1. The for the Japanese record map book is http://recordmap.com/
  2. List of Five Independent stores in Tokyo. All of the following stores can easily be found via Google. Flash Disc Ranch and Yellow Pop both in Shimo-Kitazawa. Record Sya in Jinbouchou. Sonota (aka Manual of Errors) and El Sur Records both in Shibuya.
  3. List of Five Independent stores in Osaka. All of the following stores can easily be found via Google. Bamboo Records, Naka Records, Wild One Records, Rare Groove Records and Maru Ka Batsu
  4. For Sound Cafe Dzumi check https://www.facebook.com/SoundCafedzumi or http://www.dzumi.jp
  5. Two recommend craft beer bars that do a fine range of food in Osaka are as follows: Craft Beer Works Kamikaze (see http://www.cbw-kamikaze.com/) and Lezzet Craft Beer & Food Experience Bar (see http://ameblo.jp/lezzetcraftbeer)
  6. The Record Sale. A good resource for finding information on occasional record sales is http://www.oneboxrecordfair.com/. As well as organising the One Box Record Fair the site highlights other similar events
  7. One record sale well worth investigating if you are in Tokyo on 14th and 15th Feb. 2015 is organised by Enan formally of the Turntable store. The details of the record fair are at https://www.facebook.com/Turntable-Tokyo/. This one takes place in a rented space, so is a little bit bigger than a bar sale. A short clip of one of Enan’s previous events is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJQQZBjpUKo

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the secret to happiness

at present time I am hunting for records throughout the USA; New York, Philadelphia, Boston and then some more. Expect a detailed post on my experiences and finds soon. In the meantime, a thought….

the secret to happiness...gecomp

diggin’ in Japan vol 4-El Sur Records Tokyo-interview with Takashi Harada

 the LP ‘Atakora Manu & His Sound Engineers’ was part of a small haul of  vintage African records found in the El Sur Records shop in Tokyo. Please note that they do not trade African music only. The selection is generally oriented in Latin/Carib/World music but the stock changes with the flow, always with a keen eye on quality and rare vinyl.  Next to the shop El Sur runs a small label to release some of their most favorite World music. Go see their selection and releases at www.elsurrecords.com

See also diggin’ in Japan vol 1; Tokyo record shops 

reporter Eddy De Clercq & Takashi Harada -May 2012-Tokyo Japan

As I was intrigued by the selection in the shop and the style and vision of owner Takashi Harada I decided to ask him the following questions. The original Japanese version of the text has been translated by Iain Lambert. See previous post diggin’ in Japan, vol 3; One Box Record Fair Tokyo

1. 簡単に自己紹介をお願いします。
Please introduce yourself in a few sentences.

ロウティーンのころから、毎日、音楽を聞き続けています。今53歳です。30年近く、レコード /CD屋をやっています(初めはレコード店勤務でした。自分の店を始めて15年になります)。ワールド・ミュージックについて、雑誌等に原稿を書いたり、ラジオで音楽を紹介することもあります。

I’ve listened to music every day since I was in my early teens. Now I’m 53, and for nearly 30 years I’ve been working in record/CD shops. At first I was a clerk in someone else’s store, and now I have my own shop that I opened 15 years ago. I sometimes write articles on “World Music” in magazines, and introduce people to music on the radio.

2. あなたは自分で自分のことを、DJ/コレクター/トレーダー/文化人類学者だと思いますか?
Do you see yourself as a dj/collector/trader or cultural anthropologist?

ただの音楽好きです。

I’m just someone who loves music.

3. アフリカの音楽だったら、伝統的な音楽と現代の音楽のどちらが好きですか?
Do you choose traditional tribal music or contemporary popular music from Africa?

どちらも好きですが、特に好きなのは、それぞれの時代に対応しようとした個々の工夫が加味された伝統的な音楽です。

I like both, but especially music that attempts to adapt traditional forms to the sounds and styles of its respective era.

4. あなたにとってリズムと言葉/歌詞のどちらがより大切ですか?もし言葉のほうが大切な場合、意味が理解できないことにある言葉でも大切なのはどうしてですか?

What is more important to you; the rhythms or the words/poetry? Words
that you may not understand, why do they speak to you?

リズムとメロディーとメリスマ(melisma) とあらゆるベント(bend)が大切です。言葉の意味は二の次です。

Rhythm and melody and melisma and all kinds of note-bending are important. Words and their meaning are secondary to that.

5. アフリカの音楽を集めはじめたとき、何が一番難しかったですか?
What was the biggest challenge for you to start collecting African music?

欧米からの輸入盤は入手できても、日本の場合、アフリカ現地制作盤の入手(輸入)が難しかったことです。

Even if we could get hold of records imported from Europe andAmerica, here in  Japan it was tough to find (or import) actual African pressings.

6. 日本人がアフリカ音楽をどれくらい熱心に聴いているか教えてください:いつ頃からアフリカ音楽が人気になりましたか?きっかけになったライブやコンサートはありますか?特に人気のあるDJ、クラブ、バンドは?

Please describe the Japanese fascination for African music. When did it start? Any live /shows? Favorites? DJ’s/Clubs/bands?

1984年にSUNNY ADEが日本でライヴをしました。多くの人が “JUJU” を中心としたナイジェリア音楽を好きになりました(が、それ以前の1970年代から、FELA KUTI、MANU DIBANGO の人気はありました。個人的にはASSAGAIが大好きでした)。1980年代末には PAPA WEMBAやZAIKO LANGA LANGA が来日し、コンゴ(旧ザイール)の音楽がブームを呼びました。そして1990年代になると、YOUSSOU NDOUR, SALIFKEITA, THOMASMAPFUMO, HUKWEZAWOSE, MAHLATHINI & MAHOTELLA QUEENS等が来日し、アフリカ全域の音楽を愛好するリスナーも増えました。
しかし、日本経済が低調になるにしたがい、アフリカのみならず、ワールド・ミュージックの愛好家は減り続け、現在に至っていると思います。現在、アフリカのアーティストが日本へ来ることは稀です。

In 1984 Sunny Ade played shows in Japan and this got a lot of people interested in Nigerian music, especially Juju. Even before that, in the 70s Fela Kuti and Manu Dibango were popular. Myself, I loved Assagai. From the late 80s Papa Wemba and Zaiko LangaLanga came to Japan and there was a boom in music from Congo (formerly Zaire).

Then in the 90’s Youssou N’Dour, SalifKeita, Thomas Mapfumo, Hukwe Zawose, Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens toured here and the audience for music from all over Africa increased.

But when the Japanese economy started to decline, so did the audience for not just African music, but all kinds of “World Music”, and that brought us to where we are today. It’s rare nowadays for African artists to visit Japan.

7. どうしてアフリカ音楽を世界のために守ることが重要ですか?
Why is it important to save African music for the world?

どのような音楽も、守られる必要はないと思っています。滅びる音楽は滅びるに任せるべきだと思っています。それでも、録音 / レコードがある限り、誰かがそれを聞き続けるでしょう。

I don’t really think it’s necessary to save any particular kind of music. When music perishes we should let it go. However, if there are recordings or records then I suppose someone could continue listening to them.

8. あなた自身が発見した中で一番大切なアフリカのレコードは何ですか?
What is your best African record find ever?

FRANCO & OK JAZZ の VERKYS 参加の一連のレコードです。

A bunch of records by Franco & OK Jazz that Verckys appears on.

9. 探しているアフリカ音楽でまだ見つからないものは何ですか?

What is still on your wishlist?

I’m not a collector. I just enjoy the CDs or records I come across day by day. That’s one of the reasons I keep my shop going: to listen to as much new music as possible. Having said that, I want to listen to more original Algerian Shaabi 78s. Also, as many 78s on the Opika label from Kinshasa as possible.

Opika 430A -Andre Watele

私はコレクターではありません。日々、出会うことができたCDやアナログ盤を楽しんでいるだけです。多くの音楽に出会うために、私はレコード / CD屋を続けています。
が、強いて言えば、 ALGERIAN SHAABI のSPレコード音源をもっと聞きたいと思っています。
また、キンシャサの OPIKA LABEL の SPレコード音源を多く聞いてみたいと思っています。

 

diggin’ in Japan vol 2; Osaka finds

after 4 days of serious diggin’ in Tokyo we boarded the train for another safari to Osaka.  My friend collector MP Flapp had been there before so again his guidance was invaluable.

The first thing that you need to remember when travelling in Japan by train is to buy a JR Rail Pass for unlimited travel by train, the pass is also valid for traveling on the JR line within the Tokyo subway. It’s easy and efficient and it saves a lot of money since travel by train in Japan can be quite expensive.

The city of Osaka was very pleasant after the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, it is a lot smaller compared to the metropolis and one can actually walk the city center. Which reminded me a lot of the old port of Amsterdam since it has canals, bridges and a funky red light district.

Namba is a good place to start hunting for records as there is a free map available detailing most stores in the district. Shinsaibashi is another era where some of the city’s more specialised shops like Timebomb and King Kong can be found. I avoided going into Timebomb since the shop is a real money-drain and  most of my wishlist can be found  in that shop but hey, sometimes one has to minimize.

Forever Records, Osaka

My favorite shops were the ones that sold African music like Vox and Bamboo and Forever Records, a store specialized in Krautrock (!) with a great selection of world and African music.

MP Flapp

MP FLAPP has published a more detailed post on diggin’ in Osaka here

some of the African finds so far

I will be reporting and listing the found records extensively here on Soul Safari the coming weeks with lots of pics and music to share.

The second volume of diggin’ in Japan  here today is about Osaka. Coming up is a special report on the Tokyo jazz scene with interviews with local collectors and friends. So do check out coming posts!

diggin’ in Japan vol 1; Tokyo record shops

metro Tokyo May 2012

Konnichiwa! The past few weeks my insatiable appetite for African music drove me to Tokyo and Osaka in Japan. Not the most obvious choice to find African music, I agree, but after a few serious digs my bags were filled with great finds, and some new discoveries too!

My guides collector MP Flapp and his friend Iain who lives and works in Tokyo, showed me around -thanks guys!

 Tokyo is without a doubt the biggest metropolis in the world and although the language is impenetrable for foreigners it was relatively easy to get around, especially if you have  a good street map.

Use the subway, it’s the best way to get around in this huge city, easy and handy once one understands the planning and structure of this excellent form of public transport.  And it’s economic too! All vending machines are operated in English and should you get lost then there’s always a helpful English speaking company employee coming to your rescue .

 Think of Tokyo as a collection of many cities and stations, each with it’s own centre/neighborhood where  most markets, shopping areas and record stores are concentrated.

Disk Union publishes an excellent catalog of Tokyo record stores and new releases.

A good map and list of places to go  makes hunting for the big five in Tokyo a lot easier…

Most shops are either ultra-specialised in one specific style or huge in terms of the selection of used -and new- vinyl on offer. Division and lay-out of the shops is quite well marked in English and the prices are relatively cheap, especially for the Japanese pressings.  There is always an interesting section of second-hand vinyl in excellent conditon. But don’t be fooled; it’s hard to find real bargains since most owners seem to know their merchandise -and the prices for rare vinyl- really well.

       The Goldmine grading system has been replaced for the Japanese version of it -using A, B, C as indication- but since the Japanese are keen on clean it is rare to find junk. Most of the staff working in the stores have a basic knowledge of English and are always helpful, a polite bow always works miracles as well.

Flash Disc Ranch

One of my favourite shops in Tokyo is  Flash Disc Ranch -at Shimokitazawa- Misuzu Bldg 2F, 2-12-16 Shimo-Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0031-  a big store one flight up the stairs under a manga-styled door, opened in 1982 with a great selection of R&B, soul, jazz. The specialty of the house is “cheapies”, lots of  it! Check the 45’s boxes, lots of great finds at Yen 100. The owner Masao Tsubaki speaks English and knows his trade very well.

Open 12-10 pm daily (Saturday 14.00h -21.00h). Sundays 14.00h -21.00h. Closed on Wednesday.

001.jpg
Otonomad

  Within walking distance from Flash Disc Ranch is a small shop called Otonomad  that stocks an excellent selection of soul, jazz, world and some rare African vinyl. The selection changes with whatever the owner puts in the racks daily so do check these out as there are some treasures hidden in those bins. Excellent selection of CD’s too and there is a listening post…

Otonomad -3 minutes walk, 1F along the main street shopping district Shimokitazawa Station North Exit from First Avenue. Monday to Saturday 13:00 to 20:00 -Sun, Holidays 12:00 to 19:00 -Closed on Thursday.

Then there is the wonderful El Sur -1OF -1006 Miyamasuzaka Bld, 2-19-15 Shibuya, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo (closed on wednesday) – not easy to find since it’s located on the 10th floor, we had to ask the postman-but well worth a visit for the best selection of African rarities and world music in general.

I asked the owner Takashi Harada  if he knew the Soul Safari compilation ‘Township Jive & Kwela Jazz’  and hey presto! -he pulled it out the rack in a flash!! Now Takashi deserves a cigar!!! The shop is also well  known for their own releases of selected rare  World music on the El Sur label.

EL SUR Records -directions -3 to 4 minutes from the East Exit of Shibuya Station. Go towards the direction Masuzaka Aoyama Palace, sequence right.Just after the bank, the Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation, Resona, Pronto, pharmacy Higuchi, Matsuya you will a see a big old building <Building Masuzaka Palace> El Sur shop is located on 10th floor, Room 1006.

The entrance is in front of the frame shop.There is a lift to the right immediately as you enter.

Business hours are 2:00 pm until around 10:00. Closed on Wednesdays

TEL 03 (5485) 9967 FAX 03 (5485) 9968

your reporter & Takashi Harada

Noah Lewis’ Records

2A Dentobiru Shimokitazawa 2-23-12 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 〒 155-0031. Open every day from 9:00 – 12:00 PM -Closed Wednesday. Phone 03-3418-0161. Take the Western exit when leaving the Shimokitazawa subway station, walk along the rail and turn over the crossing, turn left and you’ll find the streetsign.

Noah Lewis’ Records

It may be the smallest record store in Shimokitazawa area, opened in November 2001, but it is a lovely collector’s shop with lots of interesting 78’s, 45 and 33 rpm vinyl specialising in 50’s R&B, Rock ‘n Roll, Doo Wop, New Orleans jazz and odd/weird records. It’s definitely one of my favorite places in the area since the owner speaks English and he plays the picks and advises on whatever you are looking for, very personalized and professional service. Reasonable prices too…

Noah Lewis’ Records
Noah Lewis’ Records

They also do mail order. Great finds in the shop and daily updates on their website.

Disk Union is a chain found in the major shopping centres of  Tokyo, their stock and selection is excellent and huge in terms of the vinyl on offer -both new and used. Check out the cheap Japanese pressings and the used bins. You won’t leave this store empty handed!

Do check out Disk Union’s catalog of Tokyo record stores and new releases. Definitely a must as it contains all addresses and opening hours, descriptions   in English of some of the key stores in Tokyo. Newly updated issues appear regularly at Amazon.co.jp or buy the catalog available at Disk Union stores around Tokyo.

during the coming weeks I will be reporting on the record stores of Osaka in volume 2 of Diggin in Japan.