Tokyo Record Style

Michael Warren

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Pal, peer, Penguin Cafe Orchestra appreciator, protocol polyglot, personal confidant, compatriot, collaborator, fellow expat, record-shopping partner, brother-in-Phish, Dog Log podcast co-host, Top 5 Records accomplice, and Tokyo Record Style repeater #1, my bud, THE Michael Warren. I was initially thinking “what do you say about somebody who you have already said everything about” but then as I started writing, I realized how easy it is to keep sharing about the things and people you really love, which is what Michael and I endless wax and wane about nearly every other day, catching up for a short “Dog Log” – our oddly […]

Tokyo Record Style

Fani

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You might not think Tokyo as the melting of humanity that is New York, London, or Sydney, but if this city’s population is any reflection whatsoever of the diversity of my circle of friends, which I think it HAS to be, particularly if you count all the people regularly and now repeatedly year-after-year coming through, I’m convinced very much that, at least if you go a layer deeper, Tokyo is one of the most international cities in the world. Scoff at that if you must, and yes, I admit that may be statistically highly inaccurate, but that’s my perspective. That’s […]

Tokyo Record Style

Tanno

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Going out on a limb here. The Japanese concept that Steve Jobs was so interested in is called “Kaizen” – “continual improvement” that emphasizes small, incremental changes that lead to better efficiency, higher quality, better performance while forging a culture of collaborative team effort. Then there is a lesser known word, ”Kairyo Bunka” 改良文化 – “the culture of improvement” that encapsulates the notion continually refining and enhancing aspects of culture, technology, and everyday life while incorporating and improving upon external influences, often surpassing the originals, Finally you often encounter this concept of “Parallel Imports” here, though not unique to Japan: […]

Tokyo Record Style

Bridget

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Globe-trotting Bridget I caught up with on Organ Zaka, the street that leads you from Tower Records up to Parco (where Disk Union is) and back down to the HMV Shibuya. She was carrying the iconic Tower Vinyl bag having just scored a record, not for herself but for her significant other who is a huge Oasis fan (and what do you buy an Oasis fan who might already have everything? Their latest offering a 3-disc set “Live from Knebworth 1996” where 250,000 Oasis fans converged to two record breaking, era-defining shows marking the “pinnacle of the band’s success and […]

Tokyo Record Style

Oobasalmon and Kaz USA

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I was recently invited on a photowalk by my friends Keiko Mizuno and Tokyo Record Style regular, Tatsuo Fukutomi AKA bemsha. Keiko is an avid Lomo  LC-A+ camera user, the camera that birthed the Lomographic Society, and she joined my PhotoPeace photo walk and gallery hop two summers ago. Coming back to Tokyo all the way from Gifu, she and bemsha organized this photo around the backstreets of Harajuku-Jingumae with visits to a couple of bookstores plus a coffee break at cool Watarium. Their photo walk was based on them “Tokimeki” which mean the the spark one feels in their […]

Tokyo Record Style

Godzilla Was Too Drunk To Destroy Tokyo

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This is a fun one. For a light-hearted work-related project, we were celebrating International Dinosaur Day (who knew?) and were looking across the interwebs for dinosaur/monster/Godzilla-themed projects to recruit to be involved when I happened to stumble across Italian Stoner Rockers, “Godzilla Was Too Drunk To Destroy Tokyo” AKA GWTDTDT who would be, for the first time, in their career, visiting Tokyo from Finale Ligure, near Genova where they are based, and touring Japan, with a night off to join our event, which they did, presenting this story of their band and their sonic creation of “heavy psych monster fuzz […]

Tokyo Record Style

Hinoharu

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I consider myself quite lucky to have grown up in and around dance studios and backstages at performing art centers having a godmother (Miss Shelley) who taught ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and beyond to half the city of Tulsa. My mother was also a ballerina who taught at Shelly’s school for a spell, and while both my sisters studied there for years, neither me nor my brothers ever took a single dance lesson. Still, I really love watching professional dance, and really appreciate the forms, artistry, and athleticism, and it’s not in my bones, it’s at least in my blood. […]

Tokyo Record Style

Majoo and Ruffy

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After a great trip to Nagoya, I was back on home turf in Tokyo when on my way home from work I spotted this VERY cool couple in Shibuya coming out of HMV with what looked like a sizable haul. Ruffy and Majoo introduced themselves and though they were in a bit of a rush to get to the next record store before it closed, they were happy to give me some of their time for Tokyo Record Style. And when I found out that they have a record shop in San Francisco, and were on a buying, selling, and […]

Tokyo Record Style

Takashi Takashima

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One of the best things of doing Tokyo Record Style is befriending so many record shop owners. When they are really warm, like they so often are, especially like the owner of Greatest Hits Records in Nagoya, Takashi Takashima, and they invite you into their inner world, you not only does it feel like you just scored the all-access back-stage pass to your favorite concert, but you hear all about the the inside scoop of upcoming albums or the intricacies of certain pressings, or behind-the-scene stories of visits of famous musicians and celebrities, and all manner of music industry lore, […]

Tokyo Record Style

Jun

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As I was walking into Greatest Hits Records in Nagoya, a customer, Yukinari, from the previous post was walking out. I approached him for a photo and after he agreed we got off to taking some photos. As I was walking backward so as to able to fit Yukinari into the frame, I backed into a gentle looking giant wearing a mono-tone spring linen Japanese Jinbei, a light and airy kimono-style top and loose pants, wooden geta raised sandals with tabi-style socks, a long goatee, a matching terrycloth towel and beanie, smoking tobacco from a thin traditional smoking pipe called […]

Tokyo Record Style

Yukinari

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As my daughter begged and pleaded with me at the 11th hour’s last 5 minutes to take her all the way to Nagoya to see her favorite boy band (she’s 13) at Vantalin Dome, and as I refused her a dozen times trying to explain to her that it made absolutely no financial sense, there sitting on a massive shelf behind her were about 1000 2nd-hand records that cost a small fortune to accumulate, and as many dollars worth of stereo equipment, not to mention a piano and two guitars and a few other musical trophies (all of yours truly), […]

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

David Sternberg

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There is a certain quality that some people have, I guess you’d call it literally character, that if you have aspirations of ever writing a novel, you, when meeting these specimens, think to yourself, “Oh, here’s a good one to make a memo of. This guy’s whole being is expressive, I’m gonna base a character on this guy, in fact, I’m gonna cook up a little fictional vignette based on this very meeting, I mean after all, you can’t make up somebody or situations better than this.” David from The Little Record Store in North London was and is one […]

Tokyo Record Style

Minoru

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It’s been a while! Happy to be back after a short hiatus. With 17 people currently in the Tokyo Record Style queue, it’s time to get going again, starting with the manager of Kichijoji’s HMV, Minori san who was introduced to me by one of the shop’s friendly staff (and singer-songwriter) Nozomi san, who I photographed a few months back in Shibuya with a copy of Workingman’s Dead! When I spotted her working on a recent visit to HMV KJ I felt obliged to come clean that I created, against my better judgment, and semi-clandestine video walkthrough of HMV Kichijoji […]

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

Laurent and Michelle

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Bonsoir, lovely Michelle and Laurent! I met these friendly folks on the streets of Shibuya a couple weeks back, who hailed from France’s northeastern region of Grand Est, the city of Metz, famous for gardens and leafy promenades along the Moselle and Seille rivers. I learned that this 3000 year-old city, which I’d very much now like to visit, is also famed for its gothic cathedral that, according to Michelle and Laurent, is flooded with light from more stained glass windows than any other place in the world, many made by noted artists. Wow! That must be quite a site! […]

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

Yatabe

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Wrapping up the trio of buds that I photographed a few weeks back in Shinjuku is Yatabe. Now technically, Yatabe hadn’t scored any records like his friends, Kurata and Tomatsu from the previous two posts, but hey, we’re all the gang here, and I made a little rule for moments like these: If we’ve initiated the whole Tokyo Record Style thang, and it turns out for some reason that you don’t actually have a record, so long as you can recommend a good artist to check out and so long has you’ve got some style, cuz this blog is not […]

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

Bemsha, Michael, and Cristopher

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I’ve made the comparison before of expanding one’s musical horizons by keeping friends who know more about music than you to getting better at tennis by playing with partners who are better than you. However the sport golf is on my mind this morning (maybe because of a Michael Jordan story I heard the other day, of him being not only competitive and wager-prone at basketball, but at golf too). It’s also probably because of the fact that after a bigger group of record-loving homies initially met up at Tent Record earlier this day for “Tokyo Record Style Day”, and […]

Tokyo Record Style

Kojima san of Replace Records

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After last week’s Tokyo Record Style Day meetup at Tent Records in NishiOgikubo, our pal Christopher, who knew the neighbor better than most of us, suggested we go to a new-ish record shop called Replace Records just a short walk away. Christopher explained that Replace opened just a little over a year ago and that it was quite cool, and never having visited before, we were all keen to check it out. So we walked and talked along NishiOgi’s cool backstreets, spotted Tsuburai featured in the previous post, and enjoyed the laid-back stroll to Replace. When we came upon it, […]

Tokyo Record Style

Tsuburai

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Crossing paths in NishiOgikubo with Tsuburai pictured here was a lucky chance. Here is a guy, no doubt, steeped in musical knowledge and whose tastes coincided with mine quite clearly but still like a Tokyo super expressway overpass interchange where there are highways are overpassing, underpassing, intersecting and outersecting with eachother. We had a nice exchange on the street where he told me that besides loving music, he also produces events, and projects, another thing we shared in common but because he had another place to be at that moment, he generously gave me what little time he had for […]

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

Cheri and Yoshi

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The world gets smaller through music! Last weekend’s Tokyo Record Style Day Vol. 7 was a total success. If you didn’t catch it, our record-loving homies all met up at シェア音楽棚tent or “Shared Music Shelf Tent” in Nishiogikubo, a shop of shops of sorts, run by the kind Akezawa san, who rents small cubby-type shelves to anybody wishing to sell records or music-related goods. This day was not only our chance to meet up with like-minded music friends but also the “grand opening” of our OWN “Tokyo Records Style Co-op,” a rented-shelf stocked by me and my Top 5 Record […]

Tokyo Record Style

Tokyo Record Style Day Vol. 7 – Tent Records

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Epic day yesterday for Tokyo Record Style Day Vol. 7 at Tent Record in Nishiogikubo …and then on to Replace Records! A great crew of homies gathered and we talked music and records stores, and style and on and on. It was a particularly special day because it was the “Grand Opening” (you could say) of our “Tokyo Record Style Co-op” a shared record store INSIDE a record store, currently stocked by my Top 5 Record pals and fellow DJ friends, Tat Fukutomi AKA bemsha, and Michael Warren. Together we went in on renting shelf in Tent, each pulled out […]

Tokyo Record Style

Kei

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Back to Sources! Tokyo Record Style has become such a little gift from musical heaven. I’m becoming indebted to my own project for all the ways it’s opening my eyes, ears, and mind to new musical discoveries and the more it reveals to me, the more rewarding and truly fulfilling it’s becoming. Through meeting strangers on the street, I’m not only making new music-loving homies and expanding my community, but both the roots and branches of the tree of music in front of me grow further down into and across the soil and higher and wider into the sky, like […]

Tokyo Record Style

Joseph

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Little bit of New York in Tokyo. I was recalling my encounter with Joseph and I couldn’t remember if it was indeed Joseph, Joe, or Joey, but as soon as I heard Joey in my head and remembered that he was from New York, my mind immediately went to a masterpiece of one-man-show that I grew up with, Eric Bogosian’s “Sex Drugs, and Rock&Roll” a collection of monologues of iconic characters from all walks of life. It’s absolutely brilliant, truly a work of genius, comedic, dramatic, tragic, and well worth digging around for. One of the funnier monologues is a […]

Tokyo Record Style

Jaden

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You know that feeling you get when somebody says to you, “You’ve never seen that movie?!” or “You’re never heard of so-and-so?!” or “You’ve never been to that famous place?!” or “How can you not know this band?!” I admit having spent much of my life in fear of being asked these kinds of questions. Yeah, just call it what it is: insecurity, but I’ve always strived, mostly futilely in vain, to at least be “in-the-know” about EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD, and it only really has been in my middle age when I’ve stopped caring so much about not knowing […]

Tokyo Record Style

Michael Warren

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Making his 5th or maybe 6th appearance on Tokyo Record Style is my dear pal Michael Warren who recently moved from the far east Side of Tokyo to the far west side of Tokyo, nearer to where I live …and do most of my record shopping and TRS scouting. Michael has so many claims to fame, too many for me to rattle off here, and so many that, despite knowing him quite well, I doubt I know the half of them, but here are a few: He grew up with a jukebox, a pool table, and a house and family […]

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

Ian Thomas (and Family)

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It’s been a long overdue Miles Davis kind of Sunday morning. The fact that today is the first rainy and overcast day in weeks makes it all the more fitting for “Kind of Blue” which followed a listening of “Ascenseur pour l’échafaud” Miles’ soundtrack to the groundbreaking 1958 French crime thriller film with the same name, which I was turned on to by the subject of today’s Tokyo Record Style post, Mr. Ian Bob Thomas, who was visiting Tokyo for the first time from Adelaide, Australia with his lovely family. I caught up with them rather late in the evening […]

Tokyo Record Style

Daisuke

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Friendly and fashionable Daisuke puts the style back in Tokyo Record Style. I caught up with him outside of HMV in Shibuya (Interesting side note: Did you know that HMV stands for “His Master’s Voice” and that the possessive “His” refers to the tilted-head, white-furried, black-ear’d, music mascot, terrier mix, “Nipper” also known as the RCA Victor Dog, and that “master’s voice”, more specifically the deceased master’s voice, which in all the old advertisements, refers to what plays in the dog’s ear from the adjacent gramophone which sits atop, along with the dog, the deceased master’s coffin, yes coffin, as […]

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

Alan

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I started off the new year up with a midtown meetup in Chiyoda-ku and my dear pal and DJ extraordinaire, Tatsuo Fukutomi, also known as “bemsha” for a burger at BK and a record dig at Disk Union above Ochanomizu’s station. After a loooong chat over lunch and a short obligatory dig at DU, we headed out to the plaza and back towards to the station, but not before we both spotted a camo’d-out character walking down the Disk Union stairs and across the square with what seemed like a record store bag. Bemsha knew exactly what I cooking up […]

Tokyo Record Style

Jacee

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Now, here is somebody who deserved his holiday to Tokyo with his family, and a trip to Tower Records for some of his favorite music on vinyl. Meet Jacee from Manilla who, after many years of hard vacation-less effort acquiring a medical degree, has been working in the Philippines healthcare system emergency room doctor for the last year and a few months. I caught up with him and his family at the big Shibuya Scramble Crossing. Jacee and his family with warm and welcoming and we chatted each other up quite a bit. I was able to share a bit […]

Tokyo Record Style

Taka of Bar Travis

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Music is life. Music make the world smaller. Just had to say that. Happy New Year Tokyo Record Style, Friends. I’m getting off to a late start writing and posting , and the backlog of photographed people is piling up. Had a bit of your standard issue writer’s block I suspect, but my fingers and clickity-clackiting away again. So here’s to a great 2024 of music life and record style! Off we go! The first person featured on Tokyo Record Style of 2024 didn’t actually have any records! But he did have a proper Disk Union-branded premium tote, very much […]

Tokyo Record Style

Leslie, Jeff (and Cousin Kevin)

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How can, after all these years, Shibuya Scramble, AKA, “The busiest interaction in the world” keep impressing? It knocked my socks off the first time I saw it as it does everybody who has ever beared witness to it, and it’s still captivating me two decades later, even having seen it literally thousands of times. Viewing it from slightly afar these days, say from the new Sakura pedestrian overpass, with the major ongoing transformation, new skyscrapers arising all around it like a citadel, while the Tokyo Department Store that as once sat in the center atop the station having come […]

Tokyo Record Style

Sean

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I had a slightly peculiar claim to fame growing up, that my grandfather was from Canada, technically making me, for whatever it was worth, ¼ Canadian (if a person can actually claim such a thing). Well, I did, and although I could really only make a few distinctions, some being having different words for things like sofas, napkins, bathrooms, and ending sentences with “eh” a lot, loving to eat permission fruit, roasted chestnuts, and whatever beaver tails are (I eventually found out), always having a reserve of real maple syrup, and arguably a pretty darn good national anthem and flag, […]

Tokyo Record Style

Garageville Yasu

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With so many awesome record store owners in Tokyo, it would impossibly hard and really unfair to to rank them in terms of coolness (first noting that by definition that they are many degrees cooler that the populace at large), but you’d be very, very hard pressed not to put Yusa san of Garageville Records at the very tip top of the list. You’d really need several Mt. Rushmores to carve them up the pantheon of cool shopkeepers but Yusa san really does stand out among most. You could say it’s because taste in music and his great curation of […]

Tokyo Record Style

Apollo

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Brian (Dad) at (Chez) Tokyo Records Style! This season is always filled with cheer and goodwill, but also tons of great music, so much of which is pressed on glorious wax!! From Nat King Cole to Ariana Grande and everything in between, the holiday air is filled with classic Christmas tunes. Probably like at your house, our favorite Christmas records have finally been back in heavy rotation. The definitive favorite at our house has been “Rockin’ Little Christmas”, an 80s compilation that kicks off Side 2 with Bobby Helm and The Anita Kerr Singers’ […]

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

Jeffery Beats

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Hello, Jeffery Beats from Beijing! Nice to meet you and welcome back to Japan. I met up with Jeffery at Ella Records who was being toured around with pal, Ryoki from the last post. They are both DJs in the hip-hop, chill-hop, city-pop-loving vein of what I am more broadly calling “Wamono” henceforth. It wasn’t Jeffery’s first visit to Japan but if memory serves me, it was his first time hanging with Ryoki though have been connected for some time online through music. Visiting from China, I naturally was curious about the record store and music-loving scene in Beijing. Jeffery […]

Tokyo Record Style

Ryoki / Teresahenn

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When I lived in Hatagaya nearly 20 years ago, it certainly had a “neighborhood-in-the-shadow-of-Shinjuku charm” about it, but it had no association at all to sophisticated, classy, posh Yoyogi-Uehara just down the road, nor would I necessarily described it as “hip”, rather quite unassuming and nondescript, salaryman-ish. “Hata-where?” …but all that has changed in these years and now it’s one of the hippest hoods west of the Yamanote, thanks to places like Paddlers Coffee, Freeman Shokudo, and Ella Records. Needless to say, I love zipping through the ol’ neighborhood nearly every day as it’s on my way home from both […]

Tokyo Record Style

DJ Gundam

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Oh, the people you’ll meet! Staking out Vinyl Union in Shinjuku a few weeks back on a Saturday at dusk, I didn’t expect to wait long for an interesting-looking character to come out with records who I could approach for a photo. Cavalierly passing on a few too-pedestrian-looking collectors emerging from the shop with records, I overzealously waited for somebody a bit more “special” …I know, I’m not proud of this, but it was wild and seedy Shinjuku after all, Tokyo’s Time Square… and somebody with some reason style and character was bound to emerge. So I waited… But dusk […]

Tokyo Record Style

Aleksa (and Igor)

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I keep saying the world gets smaller through music and it happened again a couple weeks back when I met Aleksa (and his older brother Igor who’s coming up in the next post) from Belgrade, Serbia on the streets of Tokyo. We connected so wholeheartedly that we ended up losing all track of all manner of time, conversing about so many topics for over an hour; talking about Serbia, about Tokyo, about music, and life, that eventually my notebook went back into my pocket with very few actual notes in it – whoops! This happens sometimes, when you are just […]

Tokyo Record Style

Azim and Family

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Do you remember the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when King Arthur and his Knights reach the mysterious and feared “Bridge of Death”? Some of the knights make safe passage by correctly answering the scary and mean bridgekeeper’s riddles of various difficulty (What is your favorite color?) while some don’t (What is the capital of Assyria?) and are magically thrown into “Gorge of Eternal Peril” When it’s King Athur’s turn to answer the riddle “What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?” King Arthur stumps the bridgekeeper himself by inquiring “Which kind of swallow: African or […]

Tokyo Record Style

Mori (and Rio)

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What an encounter, meeting Mori and his lovely lady, Rio! What an insanely cute couple! I swear, I keep traveling back in time to my 20s when I meet young people on the streets in love. What I see are the playful of hearts, innocent spirits with ornery sweetness, that child-like twinkle of wonder in their eyes that reflect back wide-open roads, roads that tend to glimmer less and less for those whose decades have passed and as midlife tries to beat us down, break our will, suck the creative marrow out of bones. But some of us fight to […]

Tokyo Record Style

Kana (and Ryuhei)

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Ryuhei, kind and friendly boyfriend of lovely Kana pictured here, you don’t deserve to be thrown under the bus, like I am sadly about to do to you. You seem very gentle, and smart, and cool, and handsome, and sweet, and no doubt a great catch for Kana …god, please know how much I genuinely hate to have to do this… but purely by virtue of Kana’s love for records, compounded by the fact that the one and only record that she brought home this day was an un-cheap record, requiring hard-earned limited cash of a 20-somthing-year-old, and by the […]

Tokyo Record Style

Matteo and Chingya

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As soon as I spotted the turntable-sized box being carried out of Tower Records along with some record-sized vinyl bags, I chatted up these lovely characters, Matteo and Chingya to find out they were from Italy and Taiwan but met and currently reside in Stuttgart, and rendezvousing with their pal Wendy in Tokyo before headed to Taipei and then back to Germany, all with a record player in tow! Now that’s a dedication! When I stated the obvious, that record players are also sold in Germany, Chingya told me that she wanted to gift Matteo with a memorable anniversary present […]

Tokyo Record Style

Cynthia

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Talk about a bubbly character, 16-year-old Cynthia had an effervescence that the world needs more of. I couldn’t tell if her Andy Warhol shirt, her blue hair, her chucks, and her recent record score, were all complimenting her contagious cheery smiley, or if they were competing for its charm. It didn’t help that she was in cahoots with equally hip her homegirl mom (who was probably also younger than me), a Jesery girl no doubt (I can say that, cuz I’ve known a few), but by way of Guangzhou, and with whom Cynthia communicates in Chinese. Here they both were […]

Tokyo Record Style

Bemsha

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DJ bemsha in d’house …of Tokyo Record Style again! Our deal pal bemsha joined up for another edition of Tokyo Record Style Day last weekend when we went to Tohto Records and Disc Union Ochanomizu Eki Mae. Bemsha has about 6 or 7 years on me I guess in terms of age, but about 6 or 7 decades on me in terms of deep musical knowledge. He’ll dismiss that comment as an overstatement cuz he’s that kinda guy, but it’s true. But this was precisely the reason, compounded by the fact that he is a voracious reader, that I was […]

Tokyo Record Style

Izzie (and Abbas)

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I primarily make photos of people. This includes lots of portraiture, editorial, events and parties, studio time, and just hanging out with a camera around my neck. The art of making a good portrait really lies in making the subjects comfortable. The faster you can do that, the more natural the photo will generally be. The way I do this is to diffuse the tension with humor, a light heart, taking interest and having curiosity, carrying the moment with an effortlessness to put the subject at ease, making them feel comfortable and confident. This is my natural state of flow […]

Tokyo Record Style

Tokyo Record Style Day Vol. 5 – Yushima/Ochanomizu

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Record collecting friends! Brian here, representing Tokyo Record Style!! Announcing “Tokyo Record Style Day – Volume 5 – Yushima/Ochanomizu!!” Join us for another afternoon of crate-digging with homies in local Tokyo neighborhoods, where gems and grails await us in clusters of awesome record shops! Score LPs, EPs, 10”s or CDs! Tapes? Reel-to-reels? 8-Tracks? We don’t judge! Just come celebrate your love for physical media and good ‘ol record shop culture! Pose for a photograph in your styley-est digs and with your Record Store scores, and make your mark on Tokyo Record Style!! The Yushima/Ochanomizu area has a couple of great […]

Tokyo Record Style

Ji Eun and Homin

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I met this smiley young couple on the back slope of Organ Zaka under the Miyashita Park and Yamanote Line underpass. They were just around the corner from Tower Records carrying that iconic red/orange/yellow bag and I immediately pulled over and chatted them up. I often pull this maneuver, spotting somebody walking down the street, safely but suddenly hitting the brakes and start chatting them up in Japanese with my sunglasses and helmet still on. Maybe they should cringe, feel accosted, and run the other direction, but the reaction is usually to freeze, stunned perhaps by the whole onslaught of […]

Tokyo Record Style

Michael Warren

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Of all the things that influenced my early love and appreciation of music, from memories of smooth 70’s yacht-rock classics heard while riding around in the “way-back” of the station wagon, to the bombastic Dr. Teeth and Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show, from early synth-, metal- hip-hip-driven bands on MTV to all the original soundtracks of all the coming-of-age movies of the time, I’d say, rather embarrassingly the one source that had the most influence on me was eagerly waiting each week to listen to Casey Kasem’s (AKA Shaggy on Scooby Doo) Classic American Top 40 Countdown. I’m not […]

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

Ayse and Gunter

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Hello, Ayse and Gunter from Cologne, Germany. Ayse is living in Tokyo and currently a student Musashino Art University, or Musabi, and Gunter is visiting her from their hometown. When I spotted them in Coconuts Disk shopping around the bins, the stack of records they were holding was getting bigger and bigger and I thought to myself, “Whoa! Look at that stack! These guys are ballers! Def gonna chase them outside for a Tokyo Record Style photo!” And then when I spied them checking out I followed them out. I chatted Ayse and Gunter just outside in Coconuts has a […]

Tokyo Record Style

Scooter

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“Scooter” (there is something muppety about him, perhaps more Gonzo than Scooter) told me his name but I seemed not to have written it down anywhere. It was probably because when I asked to make his photo for Tokyo Record Style, he said he was in a hurry to get somewhere… and after already having another such interaction (see previous post) suddenly I felt like I needed to get somewhere in a hurry too …perhaps shooting that cool looking girl walking out of Coconuts, right behind Scooter who maybe I would have had the time, and lord knows we need […]

Tokyo Record Style

Makabe

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I was listening to Pink Floyd’s heartstring-pulling tribute to their founder and lost-to-the-60’s friend, Syd Barret, “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” this morning in the car, wondering around my brain, thinking, “How many times have I heard this song? How many more times will I hear it in my life? How many songs are there to hear? Should I listen to this again? Could I be using this time more wisely to listen to a song that I haven’t already heard a thousand times? How many more hours do I have in my life to listen to music? 20 more […]

Tokyo Record Style

Teo

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Maybe it’s not strange to admit that the first thing I generally do when I enter a record store is to scan the place for other record shoppers and, without trying to judge, which I guess is actually what I am doing, size everybody up. It’s not really an exercise in assuming things about people as much as it is a pure curiosity of what fingers are on what pulses for this particular group of people, because when all is said and done, you no matter what your style, or taste, or preferences in music are, you at least know […]

Tokyo Record Style

Jasper

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As I was coming over the hill from Miyashita Park where I’d ridden past Face Records at Miyashita Park and Tower Records behind it, with no luck on my side in spotting a record-collecting and record-store-bag-carrying Tokyo denize, as just and I rounded the top of Organ Slope and zooming down towards, HMV and Manhattan Records, up the street was walking Jasper from Hong Kong, who had just scored from Disc Union Parco a peculiar US Pressing of John Coltrane’s Blue Trane, but with a …”Hype Obi” – not quite an obi, or a hype sticker, and again, a US […]

Tokyo Record Style

Kazuki – Coco Isle

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With 300+ record stores in the Tokyo Metropolitan area, it seems impossible to know them all. When you think you know every shop in a particular area, when you have visited, say 36 different shops in Shibuya alone, and you’re certain there couldn’t POSSIBLY be another one, along on your radar comes the 37th. Welcome to Coco Isle Music Market, up past the fire station and en route to Kenzo Tange’s Yoyogi National Gymnasium, run for 20 years by the ever-so-kind Kazuki san. This is a ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub, dancehall, roots rock island paradise. While it impresses at every […]

Tokyo Record Style

Mermaid (and Manabu)

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I had a hunch when I saw these characters walking down the street, one carrying a Pianola Record Store Bag, Pianola being the famously avante-guarde shop beloved by the most curious music listener (and the only place I have ever seen a Moondog pressing that I so regret not buying), that “mermaid” and Manabu might be a fun chat. And if I’m not mistaken, it turns out to be a Tokyo Record Style first, a subject photographed with their OWN record. “mermaid” is a musician and producer and I’ve since found out is a member of “DDM.” “What’s DDM”, you […]

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

Tokyo Record Style Day – Volume 4 – Kichijoji

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Announcing “Tokyo Record Style Day – Volume 4 – Kichijoji!!” Saturday, July 22nd at 3pm! Join us for another afternoon of crate-digging with homies in local Tokyo neighborhoods, where gems and grails await us in clusters of awesome record shops! Score LPs, EPs, 10”s or CDs! Tapes? Reel-to-reels? 8-Tracks? We don’t judge! Just come celebrate your love for physical media and good ‘ol record shop culture! Pose for a photograph in your styley-est digs and with your Record Store scores, and make your mark on Tokyo Record Style!! The Kichijoji area has a couple of great record stores, including Coconuts […]

Tokyo Record Style

Massimo

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Primo and Promo! Mega score by Massimo from Italy is pictured here (and in my behind-the-scenes photos from the previous post). I connected with Massimo and his pal Mack outside of Disk Union in Shinjuku last weekend when I was hanging out with my buddy Michael. Massimo and Mack had just scored a huge haul of premium copies of some great titles, and ALL PROMO copies, i.e. early pressings intended for Radio DJs, Promoters, Record Stores and so, copies meant to promote the album.} For those who don’t know, a very over-simplified version of the record creation process. Artists record […]

Tokyo Record Style

Shinkawa san and Meika

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I met my old pals Jim and Shana early Saturday Morning in Ginza where there were staying. Because our old weekend-coffee-beers-photography-brunch haunt around the corner, “Aux Bacchanales” didn’t open till 11, the three of us landed on some really lovely Eggs Benedict at METoa Cafe and Kitchen around the corner (which I can highly recommend), and right in eyesight of Leica Ginza. After brunch and having some time still to kill before needing to get back to weekend Dad duties, we took a leisurely stroll over to always-impressive Tokyo Kokusai International Forum, where we snapped a few nice shots before […]

Tokyo Record Style

Jim O’Connell

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Somebody with many interests and creative pursuits is called a “Multipotentialite”. Somebody with knowledge that spans a substantial number of subjects is called a “Polymath”. Somebody who has wide interests and is an expert in several areas is called a “Renaissance Man.” Somebody who is competent in many endeavors, but excels in none of them is called a “Pantologist” or a “Jack of All Trades.” Jim is all of these things but also more than all of them. I’ve been searching for a way to describe one of my oldest, dearest, closest friends, the godfather of my first kid, my […]

Tokyo Record Style

Temuge

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They say Shibuya Scramble is the busiest intersection in the world. Is it true? Could be. Two things are for sure. 1.) It still manages to impress, no matter how many hundreds (or thousands) of times you’ve crossed it, and 2.) It’s where I spotted Temuge crossing in the sea of people with his pal, both with ice-pops on a Saturday Night. I chatted Temuge there on the corner in a mix of Japanese and English and I began to wonder if Japanese was both our second languages. I asked Temugu where he was from and I thought I heard […]

Tokyo Record Style

aCYy

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Disk Union in Kichijoji’s Parco opens at 10am. I think it might be the earliest-opening record store in Tokyo where shops typically open at Noon, 1pm, or even 3pm. If I had a record shop, I’d try to be open 24 hours. I love the idea of visiting records shops super early in the morning, or really late at night. Because it’s the Golden Week Holiday in Japan, I because I had one extra special free day off, where everybody was at school or at work, I wanted to make the most of the day and get an early start, […]

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

Haruto

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Believe it or not, DJ Haruto pictured here is 13 years old. He was hanging out with DJ Keesh when I met them in front of Disk Union in Shinjuku. Despite being just 13 years old and never having lived overseas, Haruto was speaking English with me. When I asked him how he learned English, he answered with cool confidence, “I’m just trying” …man, that alone made quite an impression on me. But Haruto would end up making an even bigger impression on me when he told me that he is a scratch DJ and that he has been scratch […]

Tokyo Record Style

Ayato

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I live in a quiet, little-known, neighborhoodly pocket of Tokyo, surrounded by parks, schools, libraries, market streets, and a couple of quite winding little rivers. I’m less than 10 minutes to Shimokitazawa in one direction on the Inokashira line, and the same to Kichijoji in the opposite direction. Shimokita is one of those neighborhoods that is increasingly being ranked as one of “The World’s Coolest Neighborhoods,” and for a lot of reasons, it’s a deserving title. It’s honestly one of the reasons I moved to Tokyo in the first place, I wanted to live IN Shimokita, and I did for […]

Tokyo Record Style

Takumi, Seia, and Tetsu

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How can you see a character like Takumi (not to mention his two cohorts Saia and Tetsu) in a record shop and not want to make his portrait! Talk about photogenic! I spotted these three inside Coconuts and wanted to make each their portraits, not realizing they were pals until they walked out together. Takumi &Co were instantly receptive to the Tokyo Record Style pitch, and as we got to talking, I learned that while Takumi is Japanese, Saie and Tetsu are from Mainland China and living in Japan, which sparked a conversation about Chinese and Taiwanese Pop, Indie and […]

Tokyo Record Style

Nana

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The more people I photograph for Tokyo Record Style, the more I realize how worthwhile this project is, maybe not necessarily for you, the viewer (but I hope so too), but certainly for me, the conduit for which all this information is flowing. With each person that I photograph with their records, whether I know the person or the music, I ask myself, “What is about this music that compelled this person to seek it out, find it amongst so many others, and take it home?” This question almost always leads me to the same answer which comes after listening […]

Tokyo Record Style

Oscar

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Hello, Oscar from New Jersey and Spain, visiting his buds in Tokyo, and who got slightly off the beaten path and made his way to Coconuts in Tokyo’s juuuuust-far-enough-away-neighborhood-to-be-isolated-from-Tokyo’s-bustle-but-juuuuust-barely-close-enough-not-to-be-too-inconvenient-to-call-home, bohemian and family-friendly (yeah, we have Inokashira Park …our own zoo) chilled-out oldschool hipster enclave that, those-who-know, know, forever lovely Kichijoji.  Oscar was stoked to have scored Casiopea’s Eye’s of the Mind, which, I know you’re not supposed to do, that is, judge a record by its cover, but if I do just that, judge away, this record has GOT to be interesting. Looks like a GEM and in great nick!  Well […]

Tokyo Record Style

Sara and Tyler

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Slammed on the breaks on my way home from work, and made a hard left to catch these two standing in front of Tower Records, carrying that signature Yellow-red-orange bag. From quickly chatting Sarah and Tyler up from atop my bike, they gladly agreed to a photo, and told me they were cousins traveling together to Japan, from their home in Vancouver, on a trip they’d been planning for years, adding that after a few more days in Tokyo, they’d be heading to Kyoto to rendezvous with yet more family! Well, done team! From their vinyl Tower Records bag, they […]

Tokyo Record Style

Bemsha

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Pictured here is Tokyo Record Style repeater, and encyclopedically knowledgeable music homie, Tatsuo Fukutomi, AKA “bemsha” who is one of the main impetuses of Tokyo Record Style Day. Bemsha and I got on like a house on fire when we first met a number of years back and found out that we are both big music heads. Initially, we traded jabs with Beatle or Stones trivia or excerpts from Bob Marley biographies or obscure Dylan references, but it quickly became evident that bemsha is far, faaar, more adept at retaining musical knowledge than me, on all genres and all manners […]

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 […]