Tokyo and Osaka Guide

by Michael Kucyk

Michael Kucyk of the always excellent Noise In My Head recently returned from some deep excavations in Japan.  The insights he shares into some of the lesser-explored digging spots of Tokyo and Osaka will have you on the next plane.

There really is no place like Japan for digging. With stores tightly clustered in most districts, it’s a wonderland where you can explore every alleyway, basement and above ground level for mint music across all genres and origins. Mine deep for Japan’s amazing domestic music as well as rare Japan-only releases of western artists, plus every other oddity that mysteriously found itself in common circulation and has been well treasured by this devoted audiophile mass community. Just picture a record sleeve and it will magically appear in front of you!

First things first – pick up a copy of Record Map. Updated every year, Record Map is the essential guide to shops in every city and district in Japan, with easy to follow maps and less easy to decipher descriptions of each store’s specialty.

The book will set you back a measly 2,000 yen but will pay immediate dividends as most shops marked with a ‘lucky icon’ will reward you with 10% off (or slightly less). Despite the language barrier, Japanese people are incredibly helpful and generous with their time. Feel free to ask a fellow shopper or the store owner to recommend other places within the area and they can simply mark the maps for your reference.

While I spent a lot of time and money at bulk second-hand chain stores like Disk Union, RECOfan and Yellowpop, I got a real kick out of supporting the smaller independents, which were all run by kind folk who travel abroad regularly, actively sourcing interesting stock for their unique stores. The following is a selection of my favourites.