I’m really happy to shine the Tokyo Records Style spotlight on Kazuki from Coco Isle Music Market, a well-established and beloved Reggae records specialty shop in Tokyo. But what’s a more honest way to put it, is that I am really happy to be IN the spotlight OF Kazuki, because as one of the most friendly and knowledgeable record shop owners that you will meet in Tokyo, to spend any amount of time with him is to brighten your day (or night). It’s also easy to tell that all the positive vibrations Kazuki regularly absorbs through music across 2 decades of running Coco Isle and pumping the place full of roots rock, ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub, and dancehall, as well as from what very well might be the largest collection of Hawaiian Raggae in Japan (if not the world), has elevated his consciousness and made him quite an irie dude.
Coco Isle is a rather new discovery for me and possibly my new favorite record store. It would take some time to explain my love for Reggae and Jamaican music but the jist of it is that I strangely grew up with it for most of my life without really realizing it – any music lovers from Tulsa who grew up with Local Heroes, “Local Hero” or who attended the annual summer Reggae Fest might attest to this too. So might any of my old Unity Gain Family in Boulder for whom the words “Lion Dub” mean something very significant. Reggae has always been there in my tape decks, on my bookshelves, in my ears, and maybe in my blood, but it’s been many many years since I’ve examined it more deeply. Discovering Kazuki’s shop, and really being guided by his deep, deep knowledge has been an incredibly fun new rabbit hole to go down. To be frank, walking into Coco Isle without much reference of Jamaican music besides Bob Marley would be rather intimidating, but Kazuki’s bubbly spirit and willingness to serve you (and spread the vibe of reggae music) is infectious. He’s JUST the kinda shop keeper you ALWAYS want to meet, particularly when you’re a bit out of your element. There is no shame from Kazuki for you to come in as a total novice and have him give you a little crash course in Jamaican music.
With Coco Isle’s own crazy huge homemade sound system (which are always huge parts of Jamaican music culture), Kazuki welcomes you to give anything in the shop a spin. If you don’t know where to start, he’ll throw some something for you as quick reference, and next thing you’ll know, you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face or stop yourself from skanking along with him behind the counter like a proper rude boy!
One charming memory I made with Kazuki was when I told him that I really love reggae covers of basically Western pop songs, like reggae versions of Beatles songs, or the like. Wondering if those recordings might be considered cheeky or frowned upon by true aficionados, Kazuki said something akin to, “All great songs are only made better by reggae versions” Haha! Another nice memory I made with Kazuki was during “Tokyo Records Style Day Vol. 6” last weekend when after a really fun hang and dig with some like-minded music-loving homies, Kazuki busted out some Rockers fashion magazines and a Dancehall book maybe from the 90s for us to check out – they we were chock full of amazing visual facets of Jamaican style. I was truly transfixed. Sooo cool! It was right about then when I stopped to take notice of Kazuki’s own dapper threads. Hey, with that simple yet supremely stylish cardigan, you’re looking properly fresh, Kaz! (Can I call you Kaz? haha!). Good grief, you belong in that Rockers mag!
Coco Isle is truly a treasure island for sure, and Kazuki it’s Pirate King. Thanks for another hang, Coco Isle, Looking forward to the next and to what gems I might find buried in the bins! See you then!
More Tokyo Record Style on the way!