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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 / 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

Ksniea

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Did you know that, according to research, the average person meets about 80,000 people in their lifetime? As a rather outgoing person myself, I was guessing I’d fall somewhere on the high end of that curve, that was until I started to crunch the numbers. If you live to be 80, that’s 1000 people a year, every year of your life, which is about 3 people a day on average. You’d think the only way to keep that high average would be by joining occasions like parties, classes, or gatherings where you meet a lot of people at once …but […]

Tokyo Record Style

Nozomi

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There have only been a couple of records that have really caught me off guard on this project: Leon Russel’s self-titled debut, Shane MacGowan’s (R.I.P.) “The Snake” and now the Grateful Dead’s “Workingman’s Dead” – WOW! When I asked Nozomi san what record she had scored from HMV in Shibuya, I did NOT expect her to bust out Workingman’s Dead, a deeeeeeply formative record from my youth. Arguably the Dead’s best studio attempt, Workingman’s is to the equally beloved American Beauty maybe what Rubber Soul was to Revolver, a companion masterpiece, and my favorite of the two. As you may […]

Tokyo Record Style

Keigo

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Say hello to Keigo, bass player of Tokyo indie rockers “Tomato Ketchup Boys”, who I ran across in Shimokitazawa a few weeks back while record-shopping with his bandmates, frontman and guitarist Haruki, and drummer Shunsuke (from the previous post).  Keigo scored a very interesting record – a record that, after listening to and reading up on, perfectly illustrates the kinds of amazing discoveries I keep making through this project. It turns out that Diners is a project by a rather enigmatic musician, Blue Broderick, who seems to have a bit of the genius of Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney, and I […]

Tokyo Record Style

Hiroto

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This is a bit of a Tokyo Record Style first. I met up with Hiroto outside of Rare Records in Kichijoji last Sunday. The day before had been “Record Day” in Japan, neither to be confused with “Record Store Day” (which is celebrated worldwide) nor “Tokyo Record Style Day” (which is my own little concoction). Maybe I can only say this as a Damn Yankee but “Record Day” is to Boxing Day what “Record Store Day” is to Christmas, a sorta slightly obscure 2nd reason to celebrate. In actuality, I think “Record Day” is basically Japan’s own “Record Store Day” […]

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

Taylor Mingon

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Now I’m not really cunning with a camera per se, but having made too many portraits of people over the decades to count, I know virtually ALL the tricks to get flattering smiles out of people. For example, when you meet really stiff, fake, forced smiles in your viewfinder, you show people how to take a deep breath and relax (which fixes most ..but not all). For others still needing nerves calmed, you show by example by shaking out the jitters and getting loose (which fixes more remainder …but still not all). So then, (here’s the magic) you take the […]

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

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

Muraguchi

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There is one particularly most-beautifully human expression that I feel blessed to be able to experience frequently throughout this project. I feel like it could be one of the deepest ways to study the nature of humanity. It’s the exact moment when the language of the face changes from suspicion to trust, from anxiety to ease, from fear to not only relief but even delight. It’s like watching a child back up as far as he can on a swingset, then letting go, and then flying past the “maxima” i.e. point of mechanically expected return, breaking the laws of physics, […]

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

Malin and Bastian

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Vertigo! Jaws! Dolly Zoom! I just finally “got”  the “sound” of “Group Sounds!” There was a short 3 or 4-month window of time in the spring of 2004, between the moment that Japan was whimsically put as an unexpected destination on my upcoming-that-summer sojourn to Asia… (after a travel agent who was booking my tickets to Nepal’s Himalaya asked me “How about a stop in Japan? You’ll be flying to Kathmandu via Tokyo and Bangkok?” “Japan?!” I replied, “Hmm… Why not? Sure!”) …and the moment of time when I called my parents from San Francisco Airport to say “Ok, I’m […]

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

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

Hazel

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Hi, friendly and smiley, Hazel, who was the 3rd and final part of the “Tremendous Trio” I met on the streets of Shibuya last week. I just love the word/name “Hazel” – I think it’s the letter “Z” inside it, and the plant from which the hazelnut comes, believed by the Celts to give one wisdom and inspiration (look up the story of the sacred Druid salmon who ate a hazelnut, then the Druid boy who cooked the salmon and gained all its fishy wisdom – good story), and of course the color Hazel, and the fact that it’s just […]

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

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

George

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About a month back, I had mentioned being in Union Vinyl, Disk Union’s flagship store in Shinjuku on a Saturday afternoon. As is usually the case, the shop was filled to the brim with vinyl junkies of various non-descriptions. Meandering around the bins, about a foot above the rest was a curiously-looking, curly-blonde-headed-big-haired western gal whose overall look I thought might make for a great photo. When I saw her leaving from the corner of my eye, I paused my perusing, followed her out, and approached her, catching that her Sultan, a traveler to Japan from Turkey. I pitched her […]

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

Klein

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This is barely-20-something-year-old “Klein” from Peking, China on her third trip to Tokyo, and en route after this summer to study at Virginia Commonwealth University which, sidenote: …is the Alma Mater of one of my personal heroes, doctor, activist, and clown Patch Adams! Even though I’m big, furry, and brutish, and accosting strangers for unsolicited street portraits, Klein wasn’t at all intimidated, in fact, quite the opposite, overflowing with congeniality and willingness to share, so much that it even caught me a little off guard, matching my own enthusiasm to meet her, not a common occurrence. She shared with me […]

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

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

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

Kerry and Yuki

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Meet lovely Kerry and (and Yuki) whom I caught up with on the streets of Shibuya for a friendly chat and some Tokyo Record Style. As is always the case, they were a little suspicious at first, just as I would be on the chaotic streets of Shibuya, but a genuine shared interest in music broke the ice and we got a off to smashing start. Kerry had just scored some records from Tower Records down the road. (Side note: In case you don’t know, a few months back Tower moved its giant ~7th-floor vinyl section in Shinjuku all over […]

Tokyo Record Style

Okubo

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“This album got me through a difficult time in my life.” Thank you to Okubo san, pictured here, for sharing those personal sentiments with me as he showed me his recent score of independent singer-songwriter and poet, Satoko Shibata’s highly awaited re-release debut album from 2012, “しばたさとこ島 [Shibata Satako Island]” I was unfamiliar with Shibata’s work, and even her name, however, I have seen this album’s cover and others by her, including her 2022 release “Bochi Bochi Galaxy” appearing over and over as featured recent scores by music lovers of a certain age, becoming beloved lost treasures in their collections. […]

Tokyo Record Style

Nolan

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I’m not sure how comfortable I am comparing Nolan, pictured here, to… a… well, a french fry, but… the comedian Jim Gaffigan has a bit about how good McDonald’s fries are, and how there are never quite enough of them, and that moment you realize that you’ve nearly eaten them all, followed by the sad reality they’re all gone. He says in that moment that sometimes the universe smiles upon you, and that gods in heaven recognize your accumulated good deeds, and graciously grant you, at the bottom of the paper sack, one more bonus fry. Simply the best. And […]

Tokyo Record Style

Morgan Fisher

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The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Tina Turner lived her days in Switzerland. The Queen of Queen, Freddie Mercury, lived his early days in Zanzibar. The Dude of All the Young Dudes, Morgan Fisher, lives in Japan and has since 1984! Keyboard wizard and maestro composer, Morgan is a bit of a Tokyo institution, and an actual living urban legend, having a long-lasting music career that has spanned the decades. He started with The Soul Survivors, who became Love Affair for their 1968 number-one hit single “Everlasting Love”. Soon thereafter he founded his own prog-rock outfit Morgan with members of […]

Tokyo Record Style

Tokyo Record Style Day Volume 3 – Hatagaya – Thank You!

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Hatagaya has a special place in my heart. It was the first place I lived in Tokyo, two stops from Shinjuku on the microscopic 2-station Keio-Shinsen Line. Little did I know when my pal Taku and I traded places, him leaving Japan on a sojourn of a lifetime, and me ending mine, that when he handed me the keys to his little apartment in Yashiro Mansion, and the keys to his motorcycle, that I would become forever rooted to Japan and that Shimokita/Shibuya/Shinjuku triangle would more-or-less remain my stomping grounds all these nearly 20 years later. Back then Hatagaya was […]

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

Michael

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Making an official second appearance on Tokyo Record Style is my dear homie, fellow vinyl junkie, daily Dog-Logger, Top 5 Records co-host, and musician extraordinaire, Michael Warren. Michael’s paths and my own had intersected a couple of times over both our long tenures in Japan but we weren’t really connected in earnest until one unsuspectingly auspicious post I had made about the band Phish. I happen to own a very rare copy of their 2nd release “Lawnboy” which I just serendipitously found in the “P’s” at Amoeba Records in San Franciscos’s Haight-Ashbury about 25 years ago. (Sidenote/Tangent Warning: I happen […]

Tokyo Record Style

Johnny and Bora

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I just keep meeting the absolutely coolest and nicest people in the world on this project. What a brilliant little way to interact with the world that I seem to have just stumbled into. Though every person I meet is unique with totally different taste in music, it kinda feels like I keep meeting members of a sorta Secret Society, “The Illuminadio”, “Knights of the Turntable”, “Order of the Black Circle”, “The Fellowship of the Ringwear”, the “Fraternal Order of Record Collectors” and these two knew the secret handshake. As soon as I started speaking Japanese, I could sense that […]

Tokyo Record Style

Kenji

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The second stop on the short Ōsaka record shop whirlwind was Timebomb Records, recommended by Yasushi from the previous post, where, after I explained being mostly a Roc&Roll head, he promised I’d find endless records to fiend over. He was right. A short walk from Groovenut, I found Timebomb in a downtown underground passage of sorts, and was getting a sense just from the shop signage, which mentioned “R&R, Oldies, R&B, Soul, Beatles, Stones, Garage, Psych, Punk New Wave, Alt., Indie/Pop” (in a seemingly perfect sequential order), and all the concert posters, a few pin-up girls, a font that reminded […]

Tokyo Record Style

Hideaki

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Just as I was about to turn the last corner out of Shimokitazawa, right at the end of Ichibangai, I saw Hideaki rounding the corner carrying a Disk Union bag and I flipped on the Tokyo Record Style switch again. “Hi there! (Huge smile/non-threatenings stance) Are those records?” “Ummm, yeah?…” (slight suspicion) “Niiice, I collect records too! I’m also a cameraman” (point to camera bag) ”I do this project called Tokyo Record Style” (bust out on-the-ready phone) “where I make photos of people with their recently scored records” (scroll past a couple dozen portraits) “and your record bag caught my […]

Tokyo Record Style

Mikuna

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Never has the style of the person so perfectly matched the records scored. This is Mikuna who I spotted with Takumi in Shimokitazawa. These two were nothing but smiles, and when I asked their ages, they confirmed what I keep suspecting, and that is that for every middle-aged collector who never stopped collecting records (I guess me, am I middle-aged?) or every made-of-money Boomer now re-collecting, for ridiculous prices at that, all the records from their youth, there are twice as many 20-something gen Zer’s out there buying vinyl. “Why?” I keep asking them? None of their answers are wrong […]

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

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

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

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

Takeshi Shimizu

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Making a 2nd appearance (of I hope many more) DJ Takeshi Shimizu joined for another Tokyo Record Style Day. I was delighted that he managed to recruit a partner in crime for the occasion, 70’s UK Punk aficionado Kae san who somehow managed to evade my camera excepting the “grouphies” we took. Well, Shimizu san’s Smiths’ The Queen is Dead score and Marlene’s Just a Woman album (a version I couldn’t find on Discogs) didn’t meet the same fate, nor did Shimizu’s beaming smile, which I have to say, it quite contagious. We all might have that one friend that […]

Tokyo Record Style

Ed

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Photographed here is Ed, who accompanied DJ Laura Lopez from the last post, on what seems to be another trip (of many) from D.C. to Tokyo, replete with lots of record shop exploring, and with whom I shared a lively conversation on all things music. Ed might be as big of a vinyl junkie as Laura is, having scored two records Japanese pressings by Taipei Jazz/Synth-Pop 5-piece, Sunset Rollercoaster, who, myself never having heard, is just a perfect example of new interesting music that I am discovering (and I hope you are too) by way of this project. I’ve mentioned […]

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

Hiro

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While killing some time to pick up my son from cram school, I spotted Hiro, pictured here, wearing a cool bandana-pattern jacked and carrying a Disk Union bag, that 12” size that is all too easily recognizable for holding recently scored records. With little time before needing to dash off on Dad-duty, I chatted up Hiro san who upon my explanation of Tokyo Record Style, shared with me a big friendly smile and the record he just scored – Todd Rundgren, T. Rex, and The Three Degrees. Like most who people I ask, Hiro was eager to have a chat […]

Tokyo Record Style

Kieron

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I spotted Kieron in the corner of my eye digging around the 90’s Alternative/Grunge/Shoegazer at Coconuts in Kichijoji. I noticed he had some interesting range-finder form-factor camera slung around his neck which should have been more than enough reason to chat him up, but I must have been too preoccupied with the concentration required to dig through 7” singles while looking for a perfect, within-budget ¥300 score. Regrettably, I didn’t say hello or approach him for a photo. But about half an hour later, he caught my eye when I spotted him AGAIN at Disk Union in Parco, packing a […]

Tokyo Record Style

Unknown Treasure Music

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I recently heard a story told by Dave Grohl, of him as a kid, driving around with his mom in the 70’s listening to the radio, singing along to Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”. He shared how his mom was singing Carly’s high melody, and how he stumbled into singing Mick Jagger’s lower backing vocal, and how the combination of his voice and his mother’s together made harmony, and it blowing his young impressionable mind, and how it was from then that he started listening to all the parts of music, the symphony of instruments and voices, all the colors […]

Tokyo Record Style

Shin, Hatsu, XiaoXiao

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As I was walking out of Rare Records this weekend with a George Harrison “What is Life” / Apple Scruffs” 7”, walking in were three of the most colorful record shoppers I’ve ever seen. I immediately called my 3:30 rendezvous and said I’d be late, and that three fur-coated, kinky-booted, and Vivienne Westwood-ed, could-be-models had just walked into Rare, and if they wanted to come to potentially see some Tokyo Record Style in action, to rush my way. Then, admittedly, I waited outside the shop, spying to see if these three attention-arresting-fashioned women would walk out with any records. One […]

Tokyo Record Style

Keiichiro Fukuzumi, Akitake Yamato, and Kosuke Awane

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I had 20 minutes to kill last weekend while waiting for my son’s backflip class (yes, backflip class) to end and spotted a record store on the map just a stone-throw away, one I had never been to before, called “OM Physical Store” (OM for Organic Music). DEEP in the backstreets of Shimoigusa, far off the beaten path, I did NOT expect to find such an extremely hip store, just recently opened last September by author of the holy grail guide, “Obscure Sound”, Mr. Chee Shimizu, known for compiling the comprehensive discography of some of the best rare records from […]

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

Yusya

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I just listened to “Patto”, the album pictured here, and I have to say, never have I better understood the smile of one of the people I’ve photographed with their recent record-shop score. This album just melted my face right off my head. Dare I say that I probably looked a lot like the illustrated face on the cover here, while listening to the whole album as amazing guitar heavy guitar, wild changing chord progressions, and some outer-space avant-guarde free jazz interludes washed over me. What an absolutely killer album! Where has this been my whole life? Jeez, I’m a […]

Tokyo Record Style

James Banbury

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Little did I know when I met James Banbury that I was speaking to a renowned music arranger, writer, and musician. We met at an exhibition opening through mutual friends a couple weeks back and I found out then that he had only recently moved to Tokyo after a decade+ in Hong Kong. Our mutual friend had mentioned he was a musician, and we talked about tons of music, shared interest in artists, rapped about club music and DJ days, beloved but now defunct record labels, and about how he was making a spontaneous trip back to Hong Kong for […]

Tokyo Record Style

Jason Garcia

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There are two sports that, despite being a student of neither, command my respect more than any others: Boxing and Skateboarding. Both demand enduring enormous physical pain, psychological distress, and emotional failure. No athletes get knocked down harder than these two. Yet, in the instances when defeat can be overcome when punches and landings are stuck square, it’s never the adrenaline, the force, the strategy, or the athleticism that impresses me, but rather the dogged determination, the unwillingness to fail, even if outmatched, the mental fortitude of facing fear. There’s a virtue, grace, and majesty to that that captivates me […]

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

Yuto

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I met 22-year-old Yuto outside Coconuts as I was rolling up on the motorcycle and he was heading out, holding in his hand a recent score. I killed the engine and grabbed his attention before he could dash away. As I began to explain to him that I was a photographer and wanted to make his portrait, rather than initial suspicion, he was nothing but good vibes and warm smiles. A can badge on his jean jacket caught my eye – “Have you hugged a mutant today?” Then I noticed one untied Chuck Taylor, then a flannel layer, a sorta […]

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

Jeff Sato

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Goodness, gracious. Jeff Sato is one of the coolest, most friendly, and interesting characters you can meet in the Tokyo Record shop scene. He’s a veteran rock&roller, with his own records, CD’s, and books, dozens of producer credits, pals and A&R guy for Jeff Beck, David Lindley, Ry Cooder, Jackson Brown, X Japan, and a bunch of others. He has heaps of stories, like the time he interviewed Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, or seeing Clapton 100 times, or the very first time he heard the Stones or Dylan on FEN, Far East Network AM Radio, the American armed forces […]

Tokyo Record Style

Aurelien

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For those who might not know, I have a volunteer photography project called “Photohoku” where I gift photographs to people in need. It would take a while to share all about it, but I just encourage you to check it out. But one of technical the aspects of it, not completely unlike Tokyo Record Style, is approaching (read: accosting) strangers, trying to diffuse their immediate apprehension with some welcoming, unthreatening charm and an honest smile (which, in a world filled with nefariously-intended people requires a certain finesse), and in a very, very short amount of time, seconds really, sell them […]

Tokyo Record Style

Naoki

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Jet Set Records in Shimokitazawa is known for stocking a pretty eclectic, alternative selection in music (They’re also known for this easily recognizable borrowed Pan-Am logo on their bags that somehow always spots my eye, and which I just found out was called “The Blue Meatball” back in the day.) Apparently Jet Set has a bigger shop in Kyoto, maybe the original, I’m not sure. I spotted the Jet Set logo the other night on a smaller-sized bag being carried by the fella pictured here. Initially, I couldn’t tell if it was a CD that he had purchased or a […]

Tokyo Record Style

Taketora

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I spotted Taketora san coming out of Record Union in Shinjuku in full head-to-toe punk regalia, holding not only a black and red Union bag but also a bright yellow Record Store Base bag. Such an intriguing character, I had to chat him up and see if he’d pose for a Tokyo Record Style portrait. He instantly obliged me and showed me the records he scored, two hardcore records I was seeing and hearing of for the first time. I’ve since gone home and looked both of them up, finding neither of the albums nor artists on Spotify, proving the […]

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

Makayla Bearpaw

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Working at a record shop would be a dream job for a certain sect of people in life. You’d have to have a wide breadth of musical knowledge and appreciation. You’d have to constantly keep up with trends and new music and artists, and yet also know the sources of such trends and the influences of said artists. You’d have to have a mental file cabinet deep enough to know if this particular pressing of Led Zepplin II was the Robert Ludwig “Hot Mix” or not, and whether that rare Otis Redding “Hard to Handle” single that you buried in […]

Tokyo Record Style

Aaron Hamby

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While visiting family back in my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, Tokyo Record Style will only temporarily be recognized as “Tulsa Record Style” 🙂 Exploring the Tulsa Record stores has been interesting and enlightening. Busy with family activities, I haven’t had time to visit them all but I did manage to spend half a day running around to various locations. At Josey Records, on Historic Route 66, I spotted Aaron having just wrapped up a dig in a giant pile of 45s that I was coming upon. “They’re all yours,” he said with a friendly smile, having no doubt painstakingly […]

Tokyo Record Style

Mizuyu

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“Everything’s too easy. Just one stroke of the ring finger, middle finger, one little click, that’s all it takes. We’ve dropped the coin right into the slot. We’re pill poppers, cube heads and day trippers, hanging in, hanging out, gobbling blue devils, black mollies, anything we can get our hands on. Not to mention the nose candy and ganga grass. It’s all too easy, too democratic. You need a solar X-ray detector just to find somebody’s heart, see if they still have one.” – Bob Dylan Dylan offered this social commentary in a recent WSJ article specifically about streaming music, […]

Tokyo Record Style

Koichi

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This project is proving to be an interesting little vehicle for the perfect conversation with a stranger, particularly from one music lover to another. It seems that with nearly everybody I’ve met, spoken to, and photographed, we’ve come to learn something that we have in common beyond just a love for music. And it’s kinda remarkable how it starts. Just the sentence “Excuse me, are those records?” seems to simultaneously cause curious antennas to raise while initiating the diffusion of any tension or suspicion as if it’s some kind of secret password buried in subconscious that overrides all external perceived […]

Tokyo Record Style

Takashi

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Takashi’s striped sweater had something Charlie Brown about it, his chain wallet and oversized rims had something Elvis Costello about them, and I have always wanted a pair of leather Chuck Taylors. Carrying a Union Record Bag, naturally, I had to spark up a conversation with him. I told him about Tokyo Record Style but he was expectedly hesitant to just pose for a stranger with a camera. That’s understandable, but since we were already talking, I asked what records he just scored and he pulled out the Ronettes! That very day, I had spotted Phil Spectors’s Christmas Album 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

Joshua and Madeline

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I met Joshua and Madeline near General Record Store, and they were quite the photogenic characters. They had just picked up copies of The Ataris – Blue Skies, Broken Hearts… Next 12 Exits (a guilty pleasure admitted Joshua), and Adventures In Stereo / The American Analog Set – After Hours Issue #2, two more records whose bands I only really know by name. Madeline mentioned that she works in translation and Joshua that he works in fashion. They both were very hip and we had a nice chat on the stoops of General. A couple other things to mention is […]

Tokyo Record Style

Itaru

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What are the odds! I caught up with Itaru coming up the street pushing a bicycle and a tote bag on his shoulder and asked him if he might want to pose for Tokyo Record Style. With a warm smile he agrees, reaches into his bag and pulls out, much to my amazement, lo-and-behold, Tulsa hometown hero, Leon Russel, who, as legend has it (according to my parents) had a girlfriend who lived across from my first childhood home, and who used to come around and play with me when I was just a wee kid. I only became aware […]

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 […]