Tokyo Record Style

Saleh

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Jet Set Records in Shimokitazawa (and their original shop in Kyoto) has to have the coolest of all the record store bags. It riffs on the classic PanAm logo and it has a cool two-tone opacity so you can see the records through the logo. It always catches my eye as it did when I was driving down Ichiban-gai, the streets where it’s located, and spotted a handsome young lad with two equally sharp escorts I’d soon find out were his parents. This has become a rather common occurrence, spotting young adults on family holidays who have dragged their parents, […]

Tokyo Record Style

Jake and Kate

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Jake and Kate were coming out of hip Big Love records when I caught up with them for a photo and a chat. They were old college schoolmates both visiting Tokyo from opposite ends of the Globe, Jake from Boston where he’s involved with a local Japanese community and Kate, originally from the Bay area but coming for a rendezvous from Taiwan where she has been living for a year. The three of us had such a whirlwind conversation that covered so much ground from US/Japan history, to Taiwan, to Sweden, to Harajuku-ura fashion, to Kanye and Big Love, to […]

Tokyo Record Style

Mai (and Masaya)

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Despite this album arriving to the world some 20 years before the person holding it, the sound contained within “Vitamin E.P.O” by early J-Pop idol star of mid-1980s “Epo” (known as one of the “Three RCA Daughters’ along with Taeko Onuki and Mariya Takeuchi) somehow perfectly matched the vibe and style of …if I may… darling Mai(-chan) who had just scored this at Union Record in Shinjuku while out on a date to with her squeeze, Masaya. The revived interest in “City Pop” can’t be understated, it seems to be peeking out of every facet of culture these days. The […]

Tokyo Record Style

Hinako

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I decided to write a little bit in Japanese (see below), challenged by a friend, to both level up my Nihongo and to connect with the supportive Japanese audience always cheering me on.  I thought it was a nice idea and it also happens to coincide perfectly with a post about Hinako pictured here, who I met at Replace Records a few weeks back. Though I initiated our conversation in Japanese, because she has grown up for many years attending international schools while living in Indonesia with her family, we were able to quickly change gears and communicate primarily in […]

Tokyo Record Style

Namioka san

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Pal, partner-in-crime, and regularly-featured Tokyo Record Style friend, bemsha and I hung out a few weeks back visiting a fashion/jewelry exhibition of our mutual friends Paramitha and Fani, who hail from Indonesia and whom we both know through photography and Tokyo’s creative world. The exhibition was super cool and afterward, bemsha and I remembered that Tower Records in Shibuya had recently closed, remodeled, and reopened its record floor, stocking it with twice as many records and thought it would be fun to check it out before heading back home. On our way there, we spotted friendly Namioka san on the […]

Tokyo Record Style

Kurata

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Next up of the trio that I met in Shinjuku is the elegantly-styled Kurata, who stood out a little like a silhouette in a fashion collection sketch. He was rawking a long, corduroy-ish, camel-coloured velour, vintage double-breasted sweater/jacket/trench-coat in perfect nik by French designer Louis Féraud. Peeking out from the jacket (take note in the photos) and over the button-down dress shirt was attention-grabbing accented detail, an intricately-embroidered and delicately-laced silk blouse, that I initially feared could have been accidentally ripped with one wrong move, however Kurata, with a sorta air of regalia about him in it, gave me ease. […]

Tokyo Record Style

Tomatsu

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When we look in the mirror, we don’t see our “true” selves, or maybe a better way to put it is that we don’t see our “accurate” selves, but rather a representation of ourselves, horizontally flipped, but it’s close enough to give us an idea of how we look and who we are. But on the other hand, when we look at a photograph of ourselves, maybe a well-made portrait, we see ourselves as the world sees us …and sometimes, even often, the person we see in the photo is not the same person we see in the mirror. I’ve […]

Tokyo Record Style

Marcus

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The first time, so I thought, that I spotted friendly and fashionable Marcus was at Ella Records in Hatagaya where his tall stature, cool threads, refined specs, and choice camera caught the corner of my eye. We perused the bins opposite of each other, and though I am normally the one to introduce myself in these instances, it was Marcus who said to me, “Aren’t you the Photohoku guy, Brian?” I was instantly taken back to a very big photo event I hosted a couple of summers ago that was so well attended that I didn’t really have a chance […]

Tokyo Record Style

Towa

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Nearly every day on my way home from work, I pass by Manhattan Records, a Tokyo institution of 30 years that mostly Hip-Hop, R&B, Soul, and House. After passing Ultra Shibuya, Hi-Fi Records, several Disk Unions, Tower Records, an HMV, Discland Jaro, Next Records, Mother’s Records, and a couple of Face Records, Manhattan Records is the last record shop on my way out of Shibuya on Inokashira Dori, the road that leads me all the way back home. By the time I’m rolling up on Manhattan, I’ve usually photographed a record collector or two on the way at one of […]

Tokyo Record Style

Cheer the Rock

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Hello “Cheer the Rock!” Welcome to Tokyo Records Style! “Where did you get a name like “Cheer the Rock?” “It was thought up by the artist MAAACHIRIN, who is on the Shibuya music label I run called “Pinpuri(.com)”. “Wow, what does it mean?” “It means “Supporting rock feelings [ロックな気持ちを応援する]” Cheer also explained that he is graduated from a music college and is a composer and …Facinating! Cheer the Rock said he didn’t have any vinyl records but rather CDs instead! C’mon now! It’s all about music, we don’t judge! So Cheer pulled out his CDs (none of which I recognized […]

Tokyo Record Style

Yasu

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Sesame Street… …ok bear with me. I grew up on Sesame Street, well not actually ON Sesame Street, but watching it as a kid. I have 4 younger siblings, spread in ages across 12 years. So Sesame Street was on our family TV for a decade. It didn’t change heaps over the years, but I definitely got “old school” Sesame Street (think: 70’s era View Master – “Day at the Zoo”) and my youngest siblings got new updated versions, but all still quite familiar. Even my own kids watched DVDs of Sesame Street, both the oldest and newest seasons and […]

Tokyo Record Style

Miguel

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Meet Miguel who hails from the Catalonia city of architect Antoni Gaudí (of Sagrada Família fam of course, and who I must say to who Miguel bears a striking resemblance san broken-and-taped eyeglasses), Reus, Spain! I’ve only ever heard of Reus by name but have never met and actual Reusenc, so this was quite a prospect! (Side note, Reus is also a famous for its signature Catalan modernism, also as wine-producing region, a rock-climbing mecca, and boasts a millenia-rich history. I wanna go! ) Miguel was carrying a massive haul form Recofan’s new shop in Shibuya Magnet opposite the station. […]

Tokyo Record Style

Marlon

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I met Marlon from Sydney on the back streets of Shibuya in the Udagawa district along with a pal he had just made, Miguel from Spain (who will be featured in the next post.) Talk about friendly, it was easy to recognize that Marlon’s charisma was as big as his heart. He was keen to be photographed for Tokyo Record Style, and chat me up about the records he scored, a rather sizable lot that ran the gamut of genres but mostly 12” that would get your booty shaking on the dance floor. Marlon mentioned that the record store scene […]

Tokyo Record Style

Casimir (and Heloise)

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Within 10 minutes of my on-the-way-home route I pass 20 record stores, just in Shibuya alone: Ultra Shibuya, Lighthouse Records, Discland Jaro, Recofan Magnet, Face Miyashita, Hi-Fi Records, Tower Records, Union Record Parco, Union Jazz Soul Punk, Disc Union Rock, RnR Garden, Manhattan Records, Next Records, Nerds Record, Mothers, Records, Original Face Records, HMV Shibuya and Coco Isle Music Market. From there, I can either take the shorter way home through Shimokitazawa where there are just as many shops, or I can take the ever-so-slightly longer route through Shinjuku and where I think there may even be more than 20 […]

Tokyo Record Style

Igami

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I feel like all my life I’ve been elbowing my way into social scenes that I don’t really have any business being a part of, as if for some kind of dare to myself. I don’t know what it is about me, but when I encounter a world of things and people I know nothing about, I’m often compelled to infiltrate, spy as it were, pick up some intel, save it for another occasional that waiting me down the road. Then when that 2nd chance comes, and I’m caring the Ace in my sleeve, I bust it out, and presto, […]

Tokyo Record Style

Xuan

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I became friends with somebody this year that has really captured my imagination and curiosity, if I’m honest, like nobody quite has in a long while. When I was introduced to her among a circle of brand-savvy fashionistas, in-the-know vanguards, and trendsetting designers themselves, she was wearing something like cheap slacker work dickies, classic checkered vans slip-ons, some chunky self-repaired eye-glasses, fuzzy cardigan, a funky haircut and a kelly-green watch that matched her kelly-green socks. Plus she stood tall, but with a swagger that you could hear in her confident voice. “This is Xuan, from Beijing” I was told. “Xuan, […]

Tokyo Record Style / Uncategorized

Hinata and Kaho

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Hello Hinata and Kaho! Another couple who claimed not to be a couple (yet?) but who were out on what looked very much like a record-shopping date. This got me thinking back to, well, slightly dangerous territory to venture into, but …loves of yore, all the music I’ve shared with past girlfriends …and just the notion of music in a relationship, and how personal music is, and how unlikely it probably is to genuinely share music tastes with a partner. Some know that I met my wife in a band. I played piano and she played drums. I also play […]

Tokyo Record Style

Shinichi

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The backlog of music… a great problem to have, or a sign that you are spread too thin. There is a great line from the intro of “Better Off Without a Wife” off Tom’s Wait’s seminal classic from 1975, “Nighthawks at the Diner” where he paints the scene of going out on a date (comically with himself), going to dinner and a movie, aving some provocative conversation on the way home in the car, pulling up to the house, smoothly scooting a little closer, sultrily whispering “I think you have something in your eye”, walking the date (again, himself) up […]

Tokyo Record Style

Taichi

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A number of years ago I was in the market for a new amplifier. I really debated whether to buy a feature-thin power-amp, optimized for a 2-channel, high-fidelity listening experience, or a feature-rich, multi-channel mainframe Audio/Video receiver for the home entertainment center. As much as I wanted to go for a warm and roaring, analog and VU metered, tube-glowing vintage hi-fi amp for myself, I opted for max HDMI ports, Bluetooth, and the like, to stay in good graces with my growing family. (I’d get the hi-fi rig down the road).  Well, one of the interesting and unexpected features I […]

Tokyo Record Style

Lee Kyong Sung

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Hey there Kyong Sung! Thanks for taking the time to say hello! Kyong Sung and his friend had just paid a visit to Tower Records when I caught up with them on the streets of Shibuya. I don’t know if I’d call Kyong Sung’s visit to Tokyo from his native Seoul part of a growing trend per se, as Koreans have statistically far out-visited Japan than any other nationality, averaging a million per year for the last several, compared to just ~300k of it’s next two rivals, Taiwan and USA, BUT I do keep meeting Koreans on the streets of […]

Tokyo Record Style

Makiko Yamamoto

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After years of visiting my (semi-) local Coconuts Disk in Kichijoi, a couple weeks back I finally ventured out over to its slightly older brother, Coconuts Disk Ekoda, the original, in Nerima. Despite its relation to its satellite little bro near me, this record shop was far more different than I had expected. Yes, it had the same signature green sign, and trademark “coconut-ish” plants strewn about. Scattered throughout too were random decommissioned hi-fi accouterments, but unlike their Kichijoji shop, there was a kind of voodoo element in the air, all the music being guarded by exotic taxidermied birds and […]

Tokyo Record Style

Atsushi – BBQ Records

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To be perfectly honest, when I finally found BBQ Records after having driven past it 2-3 times, situated above a Matsuya Gyudon beef-bowl fast-food chain, in what looked like a tiny little 2nd-floor apartment, I pretty much lost all hope that I might have been stumbling upon a Tokyo diamond in the rough. But you never know, and I was keen to check it off the list of shops I’ve visited, and so I parked the bike and headed up those sorta sad and all-too-familiar non-descript apartment stairs. I followed the signs, rounded the corner, and came upon a surprisingly […]

Tokyo Record Style

Atsu

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Finally, autumn is here in Tokyo and Atsu’s long muted-green jacket I’m guessing was seeing the first action of the season. When I saw it hanging casually off the laid-back shoulders of ball-capped Astu, along with a graphic Tote bag that I wished I had gotten a better look at, I thought to myself, “There’s a photograph…” I had popped into HMV Shibuya’s gallery space, “Bankrobber LABO” named for the fact that the space was once a bank, and the back upstairs room where the gallery is was the bank’s vault. They’ve re-purposed it as an experimental space, curated by […]

Tokyo Record Style

Amano (and Uchi)

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“Vinyl is the poor man’s art collection.” – Noel Gallagher As I was cruising by Tent Records in Nishi-Ogikubo on my way home from Kichijoji, as I’m wont to do, I spotted Amano’s vibrant green dress as she and her boyfriend, Uchi, were sitting inside at the listening station, both actively listening on headphones to the same record. That dress alone would be reason to stop, which I did do, and as entered the shop I started to peruse the records, I tried not to study them too hard, but thought to myself, “Wow, they’re quite photogenic!” Then I overheard […]

Tokyo Record Style

Dean

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Friendly Dean from Christchurch via Osaka was up in Tokyo with Malin and Bastian from the previous post, shopping for records. Dean was rawking a VW Bus T-shirt which, having spent many years driving around America in my own, was speaking to me. Nobody probably cares about this but why don’t I just take a few a few lines to hip you to old VWs. Whereas “Beetle Bugs” are called “Type I”, “Vans”, “Combis” or “Microbuses” are called “Type II”. “Type III” are “IV”s are these sorta less interesting sedans. “Karmann Ghia” are “Type 14”, “34” or “145” depending on […]

Tokyo Record Style

Lucas

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Meet Lucas from Washington DC and Miami, visiting Tokyo after completing his post-grad studies. Jeez, Lucas, I’m not gonna do out great conversation justice cuz I let too much time pass between the time we met and the time I could sit down and write this, but one thing I remember for sure, nobody has more more gracious with their time since I started this project. We talked about so many subjects, TOO many to remember them all. Ah, I’m gonna butcher this but I think I remember Lucas told me that his mother was from Argentina, and his father […]

Tokyo Record Style

Dylan

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I’m asking myself, “How does one let go of the standard conventions of a song: Intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus?” But that begs the question, “Where did the conventions of a song come from in the first place?” And then that begs the question “What was there before conventions?” I’d guess if you went all the back to the beginning, you’d start with rhythm, the heartbeat, followed by the murmur of breath, or perhaps the howl of wind, rumble of water, crack of wood. But was there harmony before humans? It seems that the Greek philosopher Aristoxenus’s “Elements […]

Tokyo Record Style

Iggy

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With a smile like this, how could I not stop Iggy and chat him up? Outside of Ella Records on the streets of Hatagaya, the bright blue Los Angeles Dodgers cap and t-shirt (“Freeman #5” on the back) grabbed my attention. Being just a very short stone-throw away from the famed “Freeman Shokudo”, famously delicious Jewish/Japanese BBQ Soulfood, run by the ever-affable Jeffrey Freeman (also past Tokyo Record Style subject and proprietor of Deadly Dragon Records) my mind actually went there first. Could Iggy and his crew be mega Smokehouse fans? (Note to Aaron: I’d probably buy a Freeman Shokudo […]

Tokyo Record Style

Destiny

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Welcome to my 200th Tokyo Record Style post! AMAZING! Thank you all for joining me along this wildly fun journey so far. Here’s to the next 200!  Wow, 2024 will mark my 20th year in Japan and I tell ya, Shibuya is still Shibuya. Yeah, she’s a little shinier, a little taller, a little more electric, but she’s still got that Shibuya “charm” …ok, fine, not for everyone. But c’mon, just admit it, yes she’s crowded, noisy, juvenile, and obnoxious, but she’s darling too, Forever 21, Hysterically Glamourous, Ichimaru-cutey. I mean it’s just who she is, and if you can’t […]

Tokyo Record Style

Hiroto

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I came across Hiroto having some solitary sidewalk respite on a quiet Shibuya back alley off the beaten path. He was sipping a cold beer admiring a couple of records he had just scored. He seemed mostly unphased by my noisy motorcycle and my non-native Japanese as he stood up and was nothing but smiles, quickly agreeing to a chat and a photo.  Hiroto told me he’s s student on the stressful path to becoming a lawyer (the Japanese Bar exam is notoriously hard and nearly all would-be attorneys famously fail it many repeated times before passing) and that he […]

Tokyo Record Style

Teo

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Going out on a limb here to explain a feeling that I had when I saw Teo from Sweden for a 2nd time during his short stay in Japan.  So… I’ve already mentioned a number of times of another photography project I run called Photohoku, making photos for people in need, basically using photography as a means to do goodwill projects. The project started in response to the big earthquake here in Japan, and when my pal Yuko and I started it, we really had no idea what we were getting into. It became a huge project that took us […]

Tokyo Record Style

Gokky

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“Never judge a record by its cover.” An adage updated for the modern age. As I came around the corner past the famous Suzunari Gekijo Theatre, made famous for being about as far off Broadway as you can get, and over the old tracks of the now-underground Odakuyu line, where we Shimokitazawans used to wait for sometimes 15 minutes at a time for all the local, semi-express, commuter, and double-decker Romance Car train to pass, and then through the once-iconic-but-now-a-bit-sterilized gate of “Ichi-Ban-Gai”, the “#1 Street”, right in front of Jet Set Records, I spotted a pair of full-sleeve tattoos […]

Tokyo Record Style

Ray

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“Hey, there! Did you score some records?” “Yeah, I did. What’s up?”  (Mom and Dad [read: “Mama Bear” and “Papa Bear”] spot a furry foreigner talking to their 14-year-old son, and circle in, along with 13-year-old daughter [read: “Sister Bear”] to suss out the situation with me and Ray, pictured here [read: “Brother Bear”].) “Oh! It’s a family affair I see! At the record store! Quite rare, but not completely unheard of! Hi, everyone! I’m harmless [read: Friendly Bear of the Strange Woods]. The name is Brian,” and “Yes” (I can say confidently), “Though I may not look like the […]

Tokyo Record Style

Tsunehito Eda

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The paradox of finding a new way to discover music that involves the city’s denizens at large means that I, more often than not, have to admit, either to them or to you, just how little music I actually know. With every person I photograph whose records I don’t recognize (even for the ones I do), I usually go home and fire up Google, Wiki, Steaming, and Discogs, and find myself in a rabbit hole of discovery. You’d think such an interest would level up your knowledge, but the more you come to know, the less you seem to know…the […]

Tokyo Record Style

Bobb

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I caught up with Bobb from Singapore in the backstreets of Udagawa-cho, in that cluster of record stores on Cosmic Zaka that include Next Records, Face Records, Manhattan Records, and Mother Records, four shops that are a stone’s throw away from 4 more shops – Perfect Circle, Jammers, HMV, and Rock and Roll Music Garden, which are a stone throw away from 4 more… In fact, I got a fairly definitive count on record stores in Shibuya. Care to take a guess? 37 Record shops in SHIBUYA ALONE! Insane! Back to Bobb and the record he scored, Nujabes, the beloved […]

Tokyo Record Style

Natsuki

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I’ve just stepped into an alternate reality time machine where I’m looking in a mirror and seeing a 20-something Japanese version of myself, surviving on cup noodles, party beer, cheap rent in a house full of like-minded hippies, spending every last cent on records and concerts, and having just blown through my entire week’s paycheck at the record store in one go, with absolutely no concern or worry that I now have no funds for food. Don’t worry, I’ll subsist on music… Meet Natsuki, who I caught up with outside Coconuts a couple of weeks ago, who in a way […]

Tokyo Record Style

Michael Dada

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This is DJ Ozone, AKA, Michael, who I met at Uptown Records in Koenji. Uptown had posted an event flyer with digital art-deco dreamscape graphics that really grabbed my attention, not to mention the words “Ozone” and “DADA”. The post mentioned that Michael was originally from San Francisco and had lived in China for 20 years, since 2003 (I’ve been in Tokyo since 2004, so that was an immediate parallel to me), going on to say that he’d been a Radio DJ (another parallel – I had been a pirate radio DJ), and that he started an event music series […]

Tokyo Record Style

Ryosuke Kimura

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I came to Japan, completely on a whim, in 2004, with very little knowledge of what I would find. It was 3 years before the iPhone came out, the same year Lost in Translation debuted, which, aside from fleeting images and stereotypes that I might have gained from 80’s American TV/Cartoons, besides images conjured by brands like Sony, Nikon, Toyota, or Nintendo, or even the little glimpses that I had gathered from snowboarding magazines that would sometimes feature the Japan Alps, Lost in Translation was really my only current cultural reference at the time. To be honest, I really didn’t […]

Tokyo Record Style

Ricky K Tanimoto 

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Last weekend’s Top 5 Record Event (which I hope to recap this weekend) lead me to Ricky, pictured here, and his cool Shinjuku Shop, Anchor Records. I was on a hunt for a particular record at a particular price, that I wanted to add to my Top 5 List, and was scouring the web when I finally found the record at the price on Anchor’s website. I had never heard of Anchor but knew exactly where it was, next to a camera shop I used to visit all the time, like multiple times a week, on the northwest side of […]

Tokyo Record Style

Kurumi

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Did you see that study a while back saying that 50% of vinyl buyers in the US don’t own a record player? The study found that 50% of consumers who have bought vinyl in the past 12 months own a record player, compared to 15% among all music listeners. What the media latched onto was that if 50% of vinyl consumers have record players, then that of course implies 50% not. That was the headline. To deduce from the fact that half of vinyl buyers own record players, that half don’t is perfectly logical, but it made me suspicious of […]

Tokyo Record Style

Michael Warren

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Michael pictured here is a brother-in-music-appreciation to me. We only came to know each other 4 or 5 years but considering how we both can go on and on, and on and on, about music, as we do on our 1-to-1 logs pretty much every day, it feels like we’ve already shared a whole lifetime, or even two, of musical and philosophical discussion. Yes, that’s right, we have been maintaining a collaborative 2-person idea and discussion log, a sorta oral diary, almost every day for these last 4-5 years that we affectionately coined “The Dog Log” (which has been mentioned […]

Tokyo Record Style

Mack

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Say hello to Mack! He was the person that Massimo from the previous post who was searching for Japanese Promos w/ obi’s, trusted to help him find and identify them. And without trying to judge a book by its cover, it’s not hard to look at Mack, with his effortlessly cool rock-and-roller bed-head and understated goatee, his rusty dog-tags and thought-provoking leather-covered guitar pick pendant, his concert festival style bracelet, his funky colored, but sensibly comfortable city-style Asics, and finally his mustard-brown Credence Clearwater Revival Raglan T-shirt, and know that he was the right man for the job. But there […]

Tokyo Record Style

Saqip

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With the pandemic having more-or-less ended, and travelers having postponed their Japan trips for a couple of years now , Tokyo is brimming with tourists. “Over-tourism” is a buzzword being floated around on TV and in conversations, which comes with a plethora of contradictions and complexities. On one hand, it’s great to see business booming, and restaurants and bars full, record stores too, but on the other hand, the streets and train stations are crowded with lost people standing in your way, and every once in a while, you yourself get slightly overwhelmed with a bit of that entitled New […]

Tokyo Record Style

Icksun

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I’m hijacking this post, after spotlighting Icksun, pictured here, who I met on the backstreets of Ame-Mura in Ōsaka, nearly equidistant from my home in Tokyo, and his home in Seoul, Korea. Icksun was carrying a decent-sized stack of recently-scored 12”s down the street, while I was drinking a “0-Beer” (is what I like to call them), on the curb watching people pass by, while my son chewed on some gummies sitting next to me. The three of us had a friendly chat, Apollo dropped an “Annyeonghaseyo” and 1: 일 (il), 2: 이 (i), 3: 삼 (sam), 4: 사 (sa), […]

Tokyo Record Style

Maj

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As the sun was setting on my crosstown traffic home, serendipity shone one last beam upon me, illuminating this crazy diamond, whose name I’d eventually learn was “Mai”, but spelled “Maj”, wandering back streets of Shimokita far, far away from her home in The Hauge. Her crimson clothes and fair hair starkly contrasted the muted neighbor tones of Tokyo, and the evident inquisitiveness of her stride and gaze, and the proximity of the encounter to curiously-curated Pianola Records, all of which I was synthesizing in a matter of seconds, gave me no doubt that she was very likely a little […]

Tokyo Record Style

Chaz

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Zig-Zagging home through the streets of Shibuya, Chaz’s Supreme Jersey, White Polo bucket hat and record bag caught my eye. Then I noticed that the tote bag his wife, Nana, was carrying was one of those heavy canvas incognito Disk Union bags. “Sumimasen? Disuku Yunion no baggu desu ka? Naka ni rekōdo haitemasu ka? Watashi mo rekōdo daisuki. Rekōdo o katta bakari no hito-tachi no shashin wo toru kameraman desu. `Tokyo Record Style’ to iu boku no insutaguramu desu. Shashin totte mo īdesu ka?” “We’re Korean.” “Annyeonghaseyo!” (Laughter) “…that’s about all the Korean I know …and Gamsahabnida (Thank You). Is […]

Tokyo Record Style

Keesh

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I met Keesh and crew in Shinjuku outside of Disk Union. His lovely wife Tama was waiting outside with a trolly full of vinyl while he and the scratch brothers, Haruto and Keito (stay tuned for the next post) were inside the shop. Right as I approached Tama, who easily looked the DJ part, for the Tokyo Record Style pitch, out came the Keesh with half an eyebrow ever-so-slightly raised in natural suspicion about this strange foreigner chatting up his wife who has been guarding a crate-full of records. (Japan IS as safe as a society can be, but this […]

Tokyo Record Style

Sean Ellis

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Nice haul by Sean Ellis who I met at Face Records in Miyashita Park recently. Soundtracks, some Kayōkyoku, and the motherload of Video Game Records! Face was hoarding a treasure trove of them apparently, waiting to be discovered by Sean. It was my first time meeting Sean, though it turns out we have heaps of mutual friends. After comparing notes, I was quick to recognize that our shared contacts are friends who tend to be deep into at least two but usually more of the following subcultures: Comics, Anime, Tokusatsu, Kaiju, Soft Vinyl Toys, Thrash Metal, Idol bands, Noise Music, […]

Tokyo Record Style

Juan and Yvette

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What a supremely cool couple! Meet Juan and Yvette from Los Angeles on a trip they’ve been planning to Tokyo for ages, spotted on the streets of Shibuya. Carrying that unmistakable yellow Tower Records bag, Yvette caught my attention and I approached her for a photo. Immediately friendly, she was warm to the idea of a photo, and asked if she could pose with her boyfriend. “Of course!,” I said, looking over her shoulder to meet the slightly suspicious (read: potentially menacing) glare of Juan who seemed to be carefully, stoically, understandably sussing the situation of some stranger in a […]

Tokyo Record Style

Koyo

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This cool cat is Koyo who I met through my friend Paramitha (Hi Mitha chan!) who I met through Photohoku and the other photography community projects I host. Paramitha is an Indonesian fashion designer whose most recent collection I photographed a few weeks back, during which Koyo was one of the models (notice Koyo’s striking good looks!) During the shoot, Mitha, being the bubbly spirit that is, talked up Tokyo Record Style quite a lot, and mentioned TRS Day, so here we are! The circle of friends grows bigger! The community photo projects I organizing (outside of this particular one) […]

Tokyo Record Style

Laura

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I met globe-trotting, vinyl-raiding, sound-selector, DJ Laura Lopez outside of HMW in Shibuya after she had just scored a smattering of City Pop 45s to add to what I might guess is a rather large collection of wax with which she regularly DJs sets of Soul, Funk, Boogie, and Disc (see her Instagram). Hailing from D.C. and having visited Tokyo (with her record-collecting partner-in-crime Ed – see next post) so many times that she’s lost count, she knew the Tokyo Wax Trax as well as anybody and had the vinyl to prove it. I loved her white jacket on all-black […]

Tokyo Record Style

Kelsey and Joseph

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I was born in 1976. Not long after I bought my very first few LPs to play on the family turntable, I probably got the dream birthday or Christmas present of every MTV-watching pre-teen adolescent in ‘86 or ‘87 suburbia America, a Ghetto Blaster Boom Box, replete with double tape-deck for dubbing, am/fm radio and antennae, and probably a button for “Turbo Bass”. The Boom Box did several things for me. It gave me the ability to listen to music by myself, to tune into and to record to cassette Casey Kasem’s Top 40 every Sunday morning, listening to which […]

Tokyo Record Style

Tatsuo Fukutomi (bemsha)

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Bemsha (AKA Tatsuo Fukutomi) left me with less than 100 characters. So I’ll just say, “One Love, Jah Rastafari!” Tat: “Here’s my answer to your question, ‘Why do you love records when you can stream it all?’” “I guess it’s because vinyl records appeal not only to our sense of sound, but to three others as well. One of my favourite genres of music is ambient. It’s supposed to be played at a volume so low that you can hear it only when you want to. It is music that becomes part of the environment – as a matter of […]

Tokyo Record Style

Daniel

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I met Daniel for the first time at Tokyo Record Style Day. A certain aura about him caught my attention. It could have been his blueish-gradient tinted shades, or the hypnotizing patterns on his sweater or pants. It might also have been the statement kicks, the faux-fur hooded-mink (that I admittedly wanted to touch), or even the fingerless gloves, but more likely than not, it was the polka-dotted mask, which would, ironically as it were, later reveal something about Daniel the more I got to know him. In the first record shop we hit, a mutual pal, pointed out to […]

Tokyo Record Style

Mijonu

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As the years have gone by, Mijonju has become one of my oldest pals in Tokyo. We’ve been bouncing around and crossing paths in this city for well over a decade and probably soon a decade and a half! In a city that sheds its sometimes transient residents as frequently as it sheds its own skin, it’s just nice to have some familiar faces, and Mijo is certainly that. He famously “loves cameras like a fat boy loves chocolate cake” (the jingle from his legendary Mijonju Show on YouTube) and for that reason, we’ve always been close buds, but he’s […]

Tokyo Record Style

Shouu Tanaka

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I met the artist Shouu Tanaka on the streets of Mitaka yesterday. I spotted her and a friend (who turns out to be the bass player of Fuji Rockers, Neconemuru) shopping at Parada Records. After she purchased this cool-looking CD-LongBox Set of “The Ultimate Sparks Collection” (and after I picked up a Mamas and Papas single), I dashed out of Parade to see if I could catch up with her, and lucky for me, I did. Shouu san agreed to join this Tokyo Record Style project after I introduced myself. She told me her real name (not mentioned here), and […]

Tokyo Record Style

Asa and Hitomi

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“Who are these two interesting and colorful characters browsing around in Shimokita’s Disk Union? Are they together? They must be. Oh, look! Dare I say he’s going to buy that record, wait, another! Maybe if I just look a little longer in the 45s, keep an eye on them, and then time the purchase of these outer sleeves right as they’re walking to the register, then I can conveniently walk out at the same time as them. Oh, good, Auld Lang Syne has been queued for the shop’s closing. Just wait a little longer, Brian. Wait a sec… could this […]

Tokyo Record Style

Yamazaki

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A Tokyo Record Style First! Traversing central Tokyo with just a bit more of Sunday morning to kill, and with a Disk Union that I rarely visit right on my route, how could I not at least pop by and see if anybody was walking around the adjacent plaza with recently purchased records? So I took the right Yushima Seido, the black 17th century Confucian Temple, crossed Kanda River, spotted the green copper roof of the Holy Resurrection Cathedral, and there coming down the stairs of the 2nd floor Disk Union was Yamazaki san carrying a 12×12” vinyl record store […]

Tokyo Record Style

Tetsuya Hoki

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A late Sunday morning with kids off tied up in a school activity afforded me a visit to RECOfan, a record shop in Akihabara with a rather huge inventory. Despite digging through nearly everything there, nothing quite jumped out of the crates at me, so I left empty-handed, even without a ¥100 7inch. With a ride clear across Tokyo to get back home, a “Records shops around me” Google search lead me to Tohto Records & Books in Yushima where I discovered a quaint shop run by the friendly Tetsuya san, who as it turns out, prior to opening Tohto, […]

Tokyo Record Style

Miyu

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This is Miyu. She was one of the very first people born in the new millennium, and she just turned 23 in the year 2023, and for her birthday, her sister gave her a record player. Here, on the sad day of the passing of one of the most influential music innovators of our lifetime, Yukihiro Takahashi of legendary YMO and Sadistic Mika band, Miyu buys her 10th record, YMO’s seminal Soul State Survior. I can’t help but think about how YMO music was one of the first things to pique a deeper interest in me about potentially staying longer […]

Tokyo Record Style

Yuta

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Yuta was hanging out with a couple of pals on the streets of Shinjuku holding a recent score from Disc Union. I told him about Tokyo Record Style and asked him to pose for a photo. From his Disk Union Bag, he produced 2 records, neither of which I knew, a repeating occurrence I’m finding. One record was Sweat by the System, Electro Synth-pop which Yuta described basically as Disco. The 2nd record was Teddy Mike’s instrumental funk record, On Point. Looking forward to listening to both these records. Thanks, Yuko for posing for these shots and looking so effortlessly […]

Tokyo Record Style

Anthony

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First Tower Records spotting, at Shibuya Crossing! I caught up with Anthony and his wife walking along after what looked like a nice little shopping spree! I initiated a conversation in Japanese, wrongly assuming Anthony was Japanese but when we looked at me a little sideways, not completely understanding, he pulled back his mask revealing a giant and friendly smile, me having been to the “Land of Smiles” instantly suspected Anthony might be… “Where are you from?” “Thailand!” Bingo. Anthony scored Bruno Mars’ XXIVK Magic and told me he was debating between this and one other record, but I’m failing […]

Tokyo Record Style

DJ Bow

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DJ Bow’s 12” x 12” square bag caught my eye on the back streets of Shibuya. I could see some friendly eyes behind his mask when I explained why I stopped him, but when I suggested we make a photo right here in the middle of busy Shibuya, he was much more keen to keep a low profile, so we ditched down a back alley and made this image. DJ Bow spins techno and house and asked me not to reveal his identity nor to photograph his face, nor mention the quite famous location he would be DJing the following […]

Tokyo Record Style

DJ Nishiyama

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Spotted Nishiyama san on the streets of Shibuya. He was a bit taken aback by me suddenly accosting him with an interest in his records and a request for a photo, but we got some nice music talk going and he showed me his scores, an Akiko Wada double LP and a Hiromi Miyano 7”. Then he produced another curious looking 7” saying “I have no idea what this is, but I got it anyway” – I LOVE THIS, this notion of taking a risk on music, not entirely sure what you’re going to get. When I look back on […]

Tokyo Record Style

Saeka Shimida

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A fellow photographer – Saeka! I caught up with her and a pal with a nice stash of records just scored from Jet Set which, a little like Big Love Records, keeps a highly curated inventory of mostly new-ish records, finds that for the more discerning listener. Maybe I’m imagining things, but walking around with records in a Jet Set bag says to the more basic (in that modern dismissive sense) listeners like me, “That gay/gal didn’t just score some records from Jet Set …that person IS A JETSETTER!” That could actually be true because when Saeka produced the records […]

Tokyo Record Style

Naohiro

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Anyway, I had no clue what records Naohiro was showing me, but I’ll check them out and give them a listen in the coming days (All the records photographed are listed on Discogs with info – link in bio). Despite not knowing industrial/goth/metal music well (nor the -waves / -cores), I mentioned that my neighbor (and father of my son’s best pal) is part of legendary industrial outfit, Skinny Puppy, and Naohiro was quite impressed to hear that. We also discussed The Cure’s (one of his favorite bands) recent re-release of “Wish”, which was one of the first CDs I […]