Best Record stores in Japan?

Discussion in 'Music, Movie and Hardware Store Guide' started by Thermionic Vinyl, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. Thermionic Vinyl

    Thermionic Vinyl Analogue Guru Thread Starter

    We are heading to Japan in about a week and I wanted to know if anybody here has experience with record stores there? I’m visiting Osaka and Tokyo, so if you had to pick the best store to go to in each, what would it be? I say one because my family not really keen on the whole audiophile thing, so visiting a bunch isn’t an option...
    Mr. LP Collector likes this.
  2. jmpatrick

    jmpatrick Forum Resident

    Detroit, MI
    Sounds like my trip to London with the family in '14.
  3. cjefferys

    cjefferys Forum Resident

    There's a chain of nice used record stores in Japan called Disk Union that has good selection and prices. I don't know where they are in Osaka, but I've been to some of them in Tokyo and Yokohama. The one in Shibuya (suburb of Tokyo) is a pretty good store.
  4. LoveYourLife

    LoveYourLife Forum Resident

    London, UK
    Disc Union - Shinjuku - amazing 2nd hand store across multiple floors. This is no ordinary used record shop, all the items are expertly protected in good quality covers and meticulously catalogued
    Tower Records - Shibuya - humongous in size (also another fairly big one in Shinjuku too)

    Both of these have other branches but I bought the most at these and that is the biggest of all the Tower Records in Tokyo. I believe a couple of the old HMV stores still exist but have been rebranded (not sure as what), I heard there's one in Shibuya not far from the Tower; might be worth googling it.
  5. Orthogonian Blues

    Orthogonian Blues Forum Resident

    London, UK
    Good for you! I too will be experiencing Japan's many delights from next week. And not just the record shops.:goodie:

    If you have time, there's a nice long thread on Japan's record shops in the off topic forum:

    Vinyl Shops in Tokyo, Japan and Japan in General
  6. Summer of Malcontent

    Summer of Malcontent Forum Resident

    There are a bunch of really good second hand stores in Shinjuku, including multiple Disc Unions. Stock ranges from extreme international rarities at collector's prices (you want a Mint butcher cover? If you have enough cash it's yours!) to weird and wonderful bargain bins of all stripes.

    I spent a lot of time and money picking up Japanese CDs of favourite albums for their exclusive bonus tracks (for instance, just about every Brian Eno album of the last twenty years has one or two exclusive tracks on the Japanese CD). Japanese CDs are famously pricy, but that's the price for new, sealed copies. As soon as they're opened and played once, the price plummets, and Japanese owners seem to be so fastidious everything's kept in immaculate condition. Thus discs that are basically mint (and out of print, with bonus tracks never released anywhere else) go for the equivalent of a couple of bucks. If you're interested in this kind of thing, I'd recommend doing some thorough Discogs research before you leave and avoiding buying any new CDs until you've had a good look through the second hand stores.

    Also be aware that the big stores like Tower often have free giveaways with new releases. It's kind of a lucky dip. I ended up with various mini-posters and L-shaped plastic pockets in various sizes, and had to wait for ages in the Shibuya Tower while various staff tried to track down the "special bonus item" that was supposed to accompany Deerhoof's The Magic. Eventually they found it and it was. . . a tiny little sticker. Though when I got home I discovered that the tiny little sticker had a link to a download of an otherwise unreleased live track.

    Tokyo is by far the best place in the world I know for record shopping. The only other Japanese city I can speak to is Kyoto, which was nowhere near as good.
  7. cjefferys

    cjefferys Forum Resident

    Yeah, I forgot about the Disk Union in Shinjuku, that's a good one too (and there are tons of other good used shops there too). And yes, Tower Records in Shibuya is awesome as well (and easy to find, you can practically see the store when you leave the Shibuya station (Hachiko exit)) and the Disk Union isn't too far from that. Between Shinjuku and Shibuya you should be all set, and they are only three train stops away from each other, very convenient!

    There are probably tons of record stores that I've missed, but much of my shopping time over there is spent on looking for vintage toys, I just don't have enough time for everything, wish I did!
  8. nosliw

    nosliw Azunyan! にゃーーー!

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    I agree with @cjefferys and @LoveYourLife with Disk Union - Shinjuku wholeheartedly. I went to the metal and punk shops around that area and have gotten some really nice gems, including the original GISM - Militaly Affairs Neurotic LP.

    There's also HMV in Shinjuku that opened recently with a tonne of new and used records. For audio equipment, the Akihabara region has plenty of shops with high-end and used audio equipment, like Yodobashi Camera.

    To get yourself some feel of Japanese record shops, watch HiViNyws videos on his multiple trips: Vinyl Hunting TRIPS in Japan :-) - YouTube

    And here's his trip to various audio shops: Vinyl HIFI crazy stores, Tokyo, Japan!!! - YouTube
  9. dlemaudit

    dlemaudit Forum Resident

    France, Paris area
    Recofan in Tokyo Shibuya . best record store in the world for both vinyl and cds
    nosliw likes this.
  10. LoveYourLife

    LoveYourLife Forum Resident

    London, UK
    I just googled it; looks like HMV (with its traditional UK colours and logo) has been rebranded as 'HMV & Books' in Japan but with a totally different logo-- not sure what's going on there exactly, they probably have to pay Hilco (Canadian private equity group that now own HMV) extra to use the logo and decided against it.
    I visited the Akihabara region and there are some great vintage audio pieces to be had, I can vouch for that!
    nosliw likes this.
  11. HeavensAbove

    HeavensAbove Forum Resident

    I dream of visiting Japan and buying a boatload of obscure and very collectable soul LPs from Disk Union.
    Mr. LP Collector likes this.
  12. Thermionic Vinyl

    Thermionic Vinyl Analogue Guru Thread Starter

    I’m looking forward to those juicy Japanese pressings! (And the rest of the country as well of course)
  13. cjefferys

    cjefferys Forum Resident

    Oh yes, absolutely! A visit to Yodobashi Camera is a must, especially the one in Akihabara, it's one of the most amazing stores I've ever seen (not just for audio equipment either). And there are tons of little shops with hidden gems in Akihabara. Before it became the anime/manga/otaku mecca that it is today, Akiba's specialty used to be electronics (which it still has a lot of and it's still known as "Electric City")
    Orthogonian Blues and nosliw like this.
  14. Mr. LP Collector

    Mr. LP Collector Forum Resident

    I've had several good experiences with the Japanese when I did out of state record shows, and the people at Disk Union shows up at some of them, like say the monthly record shows they have in Los Angeles (specifically Buena Park.) The last time I was there was 4/17. It isn't just one person, it's a crew of three IIRC. Trust me, they know their stuff. I've been told by collectors I know and know well that they also show up at the San Francisco and Seattle shows, maybe not all the time but certainly a couple times a year. :righton:

    I've been told by some collectors who have been to their store that they have a continuous discount every three months on their floor stock, don't know about high end stuff though. I DO know they were always great to deal with when selling to them. I've been told all their stores are great.

    I've never been to Japan, would love to go though. Unfortunately everytime I think of a road trip for tunes I open up my billfold and laughter comes out of it. The other day it was the middle finger.

    Last edited: Jul 17, 2018
    Marc Perman and nosliw like this.
  15. action pact

    action pact Forum Resident

    If you visit used record stores (or any other stores, for that matter), don't be surprised if they give you something for free or discounted. The Japanese can be very kind to visiting foreigners.
  16. Orthogonian Blues

    Orthogonian Blues Forum Resident

    London, UK
    Oh yes! Akihabara was one of the first places I went to when I arrived in Japan last week - mainly to honour my younger, otaku self. And Yodibashi is just phenomenal.

    I can't believe there is still a place in the world - an actual, real life shop - where you can go in and buy such a variety of electrical stuff. Just the hifi floor stunned me. Any kind of speaker, valve, cable, stylus, turntable, CD, SACD, headphone you could want. Right before my very eyes. In the UK, you are lucky to find anything more than a bog standard, all in one big name hifi system in a high street shop.

    Of course I didn't buy. I guess most of their stuff is Japanese 100v, and I'd shudder to think of the shipping cost.

    Next week I go back to Tokyo to hit up disk union et al.:wiggle:
  17. candyflip69

    candyflip69 Forum Resident

    I had to share this (although I am sorely tempted to keep it all to myself, so you don't take all the bargains before I get a chance to arrive!), but my stoopid conscience got the better of me. :help:

    This is the single best guide to tokyo record stores, written by a Tokyo local a few years back and *just* updated 2 months back, that I've ever seen.

    Great writing, but perhaps more importantly, he's done all the hard work for you and worn shoe leather all over the city.
    Whether you're visiting for a day, or a month, this is an essential English language resource to take with you.

    Orthogonian Blues likes this.
  18. Orthogonian Blues

    Orthogonian Blues Forum Resident

    London, UK
    Well I for one am glad you shared - that will be really helpful, thanks!

    Don't worry, I will only have one week. No chance I will snap up all the bargains in that time!
    candyflip69 likes this.
  19. AcidPunk15

    AcidPunk15 Forum Resident

    Austin TX
    Disk Union Shinjuku Used Center is a great shop. I found Metallica Ride the Lighting ($25). David Bowie Live in Philadelphia, Elvis 30 Hits... the rest were 8-12. I have never found so many deals in my life. All the LPs I bought in Japan were NM. Japanese Vinyl is the best.

    Nat Records: has 2-3 racks of bootlegs from $25-50 most are $40-50. Mostly Zeppelin, Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan...

    HMV Shibuya: Found Cheap Trick Live at Budokan $5, Santana Abraxas $5, Paul Revere Band Early Album $5. Best Finds!

    Favorite Store is Disk Union Shinjuku Used Center: I found The Beach Boys and other great finds I can't remember now.

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