The past decade’s vinyl revival has caused vinyl stores to spring up all over Tokyo, and the city has become a haven for music enthusiasts who swear by vinyl over digital audio files.
With its hidden listening bars where talking is banned and countless hidden record stores stocking Japanese techno and house records, Tokyo boasts an audiophile culture like no other. The bustling Japanese capital is home to vinyl stores overlooking the busy streets of Shibuya and Harajuku, with music emblematic of Tokyo’s jazz obsession and DJ scene, as well as meticulously organised indie, hip hop, folk, and metal records.
Stocking all subgenres of electronic music from drum & bass and progressive house, to Detroit and Chicago techno, Technique is a haven for local DJs. The Shibuya-based record store also stocks a fair amount of jazz, staying true to Tokyo’s audiophile traditions, as well as an extensive selection of used records.
Due to the impact of Covid-19 on independent businesses, Technique has had to relocate to a new location in Shibuya. In August of 2020, the techno-focused record store moved away from its central Shibuya location to a new, yet still accessible spot at Shibuya Parco.
Address: B1F Shibuya PARCO, 15-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo-to 150-0042 Japan
Walking into this store is a calm respite from the throngs of people and fleets of vehicles below. Another DJ-oriented record store similar to Technique, Lighthouse is a rare gem overlooking the busy streets of Shibuya that focuses on all things techno, nu-jazz and Balearic house. Lighthouse is a mainstay not only among local DJs — storeowner Yasuharu Morihiro, an avid vinyl collector himself since the age of 18, says that musicians and DJs from outside of Japan including Australia and Europe also visit the store to stock up on records.
The store also boasts a pair of vintage Klipschorn speakers and multiple turntable setups for visitors to use. If you ever find yourself in the Shibuya district, make sure you visit Lighthouse to pick up a record or two.
Address: 2-9-2 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0043 Japan
Big Love Records
Those in the know will find Big Love Records tucked away in the heart of the youth culture and fashion mecca that is the Harajuku district. The record store stocks records from the local Big Love record label, which features a collection of indie-rock, pop, electronic, and ambient. They also have a small bar serving locally brewed craft beers, as well as a selection of merch strewn around the store adding to the dishevelled mishmash of Americana and Gothic-inspired decor. Much to owner Haruka Hirata’s annoyance, the store has become more of an Instagrammable tourist trap and fashion brand than a vinyl store. So if you are headed to Big Love, heed the warnings on their tip plate.
Address: Houei Bldg 3F-A, 2-31-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Disc Union has opened over 50 stores across the country since they started out selling classical music records in Tokyo’s Ochanomizu district, and has expanded into jazz, hip-hop, indie, techno, and dance. Unlike the aforementioned indie joints, Disc Union is indeed a chain store. But before you dismiss the commercial nature of the chain, take a trip to one of their locations and see for yourself that it is still one of the best places to rummage through stacks of pre-owned records.
Address: Antena 21 Bldg. BF, 2F, 3F, 4F, 5F 30-7 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0042
Jet Set Records
First founded in Kyoto in the 90s, Jet Set Records is one of the city’s leading vinyl shops offering newly released vinyls spanning across all genres. The record store touts a massive catalogue of hip-hop, jazz, soul, techno, and indie-pop, as well as a collection of locally-produced Japanese indie.
Jet Set’s Tokyo store relocated to the Shimokitazawa district in 2009, an area known for its indie music shops, cafes, and boutiques. Jet Set is frequently used as a community space for a number of clubs and recording studios located in the district.
Address: 2 Chome-33-12 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan
Featured banner image credit: japantimes.co.jp