20 Best Tokyo Record Stores You Must Not Miss in Japan
Tokyo Boasts The Best Record Stores: Extensive Selection
As the name suggests, a record shop or record store is a retail outlet that sells recorded music. Record stores operate on various levels, serving as "third places" where a diverse range of individuals can gather and where the culture of music is meant to be seen, heard, and appreciated. Record stores thrive as unique community meeting places.
Additionally, record stores serve as cultural hubs where trends are launched, and both old and new forms of music can be discussed, explored, and absorbed. Furthermore, record stores attract numerous local and nationally recognized artists who seek out musical outlets wherever they can find them.
Record stores hold a special place in the hearts of people worldwide, serving as significant and meaningful destinations where one's passion for music can be shared and validated. In the intricate ambiance of a record store, the overall creative essence can be felt, often in stark contrast to typical superstores or their online counterparts.
The city of Tokyo in Japan is renowned for being a haven for audiophiles, boasting an impressive 93 record stores within its city limits. This article will introduce the top record shops in Tokyo that you should consider visiting during your trip.
Disc Union (Shinjuku)
Located on the 6th floor, this Disc Union store has limited space, so visiting during off-peak hours is best. It specializes in indie rock, with exceptional options for used post-punk and post-rock records. They also offer an impressive selection of seven-inch records and box sets.
Visit it and enjoy more utilized vinyl than you might perhaps comprehend. What's the story? Laid out in 1967, Disc Union today is a rambling organization of vinyl shops traversing Shinjuku, beginning around 2015.
Buy Features: Comparing PP (price paid) to MMV (Median Market Value)
Mr. Bungle, Disco Volante, PP ¥1,200 | MMV ¥18,000
Absolute Body Control, Wind[Re]Wind PP ¥1,500 | MMV ¥5,500
Exact Location: 3-31-4, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Tower Records (Shinjuku)
While most people are familiar with the Tower Records store in Shibuya, the Shinjuku branch is not to be missed. It features a substantial vinyl section, emphasizing both new and used records under one roof. Tower Records also offers a generous point card system, providing substantial discounts, and occasional "outlet" sales with discounts up to seventy percent (70%).
Buy Features: Devotional, EZ Listening Muzak (box set), PP ¥2,600 | MMV ¥7,000
Betty Davis, The Capital Years (2LP), PP ¥2,000 | MMV ¥4,000
Exact Location: 3-37-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Disc Union (Kita Urawa, Saitama)
It offers a vast collection of new and used records spanning various genres, conveniently organized by floor. You'll find post-punk, post-rock, and indie records, as well as hidden gems like proto-punk and proto-post-rock in the store. Be sure to explore their recently used records section.
Buy Features: Iggy Pop, Nude and Rude: The Best of Iggy Pop, PP ¥3,000 | MMV ¥11,000 Various—Disco Not Disco (Post Punk, Electro & Leftfield Disco Classics 1974-1986), PP ¥2,450 | MMV ¥9,500.
Exact Location: 10-8-5 Tokiwa, Urawa-ku, Saitama
Next Record Store
This shop specializes in 12-inch singles, focusing on hip-hop, R&B, disco, and dance classics, primarily from the US and Europe. They stock around 10,000 titles at any given time, with new arrivals every Friday. Customers can listen to the records before making a purchase.
Exact Location: 2F, 11-11 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku Tokyo
Disc Union (Shimokitazawa)
This store is a collector's treasure trove with a wealth of rare Japanese pressings. It features sections dedicated to various genres, including 1980s Post-Punk, New Wave, Gothic, Post-Rock, and more. Navigating the store is easy, ensuring you won't get lost while browsing. Notably, there's a dedicated section for hip-hop and dance music.
Buy Features: Grateful Dead, Shakedown Street, PP ¥2,000 | MMV ¥3,000
Headhunters, Survival of the Fittest, PP ¥700 | MMV: ¥3,200
Exact Location: 1-40-6 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku
This secondhand-focused record store in Toyocho offers a wide range of music genres except classical. The spacious shop includes sofas where customers can enjoy coffee while listening to music playing from the speakers.
Exact Location: 3-27-3 Toyo, Koto-ku Tokyo
Disc Union (Ochanomizu)
Another branch of Disc Union with a unique character, this store consistently offers a wide range of music from the obscure to the mainstream. They feature discount bins with hidden gems and a diverse selection of vinyl, CDs, and shirts. Japanese music enthusiasts will find plenty to explore here.
Purchase Highlights: William Burroughs & The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, PP ¥2,000 | MMV ¥6,500 Sisters of Mercy Psychedelic Sessions (numbered bootleg), PP ¥1,300 | MMV ¥16,000
Exact Location: 4-3 Kanda Surugadai, Chiyoda-ku
Formerly located in Setagaya's Kamimachi, Ella Records has since moved to Nishihara. The warm and welcoming interior houses an impressive selection of rock, soul, jazz, rare grooves, Japanese oldies, and more. DJs from Shibuya often visit to browse the racks for music to include in their sets.
Exact Location: 1-14-10 Nishihara, Shibuya Tokyo
Opening times: 1 pm-8 pm, closed on Mondays.
Disc Union (Kichijoji)
HMV Record Store in Kichijoji stands out for its extensive collection of avant-garde records and tapes. They regularly receive boxes of used items that can surprise customers with their quality.
Buy Features: The Five Sisters of Mercy bootlegs, a long-sought-after Melt-Banana album, and a rare Shintaro Sakamoto seven-inch.
Exact Location: 1-5-1 Kichijoji Honcho, Musashino
HMV Record Store in Kichijoji stands out for its extensive avant-garde records and tapes collection. They regularly receive boxes of used items that can surprise customers with their quality.
Buy Features: Beak> Accounts 05/01/09 > 17/01/09, PP ¥2,500 | MMV ¥7,000
(this crate set contained a Shirt worth the ¥2,500 alone.)
Exact Location: 1-11-5 Kichijoji Honcho, Musashino
Disc Union (Kashiwa, Chiba)
This Kashiwa shop offers a diverse range of music genres and is often rewarding when it comes to discovering new records. Disc Union provides great deals on artists like Minutemen, Mark Stewart, and Stereolab. They also offer a wide selection of DVDs and CDs.
Buy Features: Chai, Punk, PP ¥3,000 | MMV ¥5,500 Tobacco, Crazy person Meat, PP ¥2,100 | MMV ¥8,300 Delight Division Singles, in addition to 1978-80 box set, PP ¥10,000 | MMV ¥25,000.
Exact Location: 1-1 Chuocho, Kashiwa, Chiba
Big Love Records (Harajuku)
Big Love Records, tucked away from the bustling streets, is known for its indie rock, classic rock, jet set records, and field recordings. It's a trusted destination for music enthusiasts and offers a unique selection of vinyl and tape tapes from independent US, UK, and European groups.
Exact Location: Houei Bldg 3F-A, 2-31-3 Jingumae, Shibuya Tokyo
Opening times: 4 pm-9 pm day to day
General Record Store
This stylish retail store features used EP/LP records spanning rock, soul, funk, and modern jazz genres, along with a selection of jet-set records and vinyl record players. The store's cozy ambiance sets it apart, and it's a great place to discover rare post-punk and avant-garde vinyl records.
Buy features: The strength of General Record Store is not the great deals but finding rare stuff. Here are some of my recent finds there: The March Violets, Section 25 (“Looking from a Hilltop”), and Cabaret Voltaire. I also got John Zorn and Ennio Morricone’s The Big Gundown.
Exact Location: Japan, 〒155-0031 Tokyo, Setagaya City, Kitazawa, 2 Chome−8−4 松田ビル 1F
Opening times: 8 am-8 pm every day
Flash Disc Union
One of the top record stores in Shimokitazawa, Flash Disc Ranch is located on the second floor of a building on the station's south side. The store is known for its vintage sound system and a wide range of music genres, from rock and jazz to house and new wave. They also offer a 'three plates for ¥2,000' box with occasional hidden treasures.
Exact Location: 2F, 2-12-16 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Opening times: 12noon-8 pm, closed Wed
Coconuts Disk Ikebukuro
Coconuts Disk Ikebukuro provides a cozy, home-like atmosphere that appeals to local music enthusiasts. In addition to vinyl, they sell cassette tapes and CDs across various genres, excluding classical music.
Exact Location: 3 Chome-22-7 Nishiikebukuro, Toshima City, Tokyo 171-0021, Japan
Opening times: 12noon-9pm everyday
Glocal Records, located in a narrow alley just off Cat Street, is managed by Genta Minowa, founder of the Rudiments label, and employs DJs Kinka, Kenta Kazamatsuri, and Jahtome. The store's secondhand-focused collection is neatly organized within its limited space, offering house, hip-hop, reggae, drum and bass, disco, jazz, and more, with a notable selection of non-Western dance and beat records.
Exact Location: Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 5 Chome−23−5 サンキエームA 3F
Opening times: 2 pm-9 pm (Sat, Sun, and Hols 12noon-7 pm)/closed Tue
Technique is a specialized record store that offers a wide range of dance-music vinyl, from deep house to nu-jazz. The store features listening decks and knowledgeable staff, making it a top choice for local DJs. Keep an eye on their Twitter feed for the latest additions and release information.
Exact Location: Japan, 〒150-0042 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Udagawacho, 15−1 渋谷PARCO 4F
Opening times: 2 pm-10 pm (Sun until 9 pm)/ closed Mon
Face Records is a modern-affiliate record shop that offers soul, funk, jazz, rock, world imports, and local music in both 7-inch and 12-inch vinyl formats. Founded in 1994, the store is beloved by music enthusiasts of all ages. They also stock CD and DVD combinations.
Exact Location: 10-2 Udagawacho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0042, Japan
Opening times: 1 am-8 pm (Sun until 9 pm)/shut Mon
Hi-Fi Record Store
Hi-Fi Record Store is a cozy retail shop with a focus on used American and British pop, rock, and folk LPs and EPs. Located along Meiji-Dori, it offers a variety of American vinyl records, from pop to folk and jazz. Music lovers will find a selection worth browsing and serious collectors may uncover some hidden gems.
Exact Location: Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 6 Chome−19−17 ペリエ神宮前 3F
Opening times: 12noon-9 pm day to day
Lighthouse Record shop
Lighthouse Record Shop is a friendly record store situated in the bustling streets of Shibuya, specializing in techno, nu-jazz, and Balearic houses. It's a favorite among local music fans and offers a laid-back atmosphere where customers can enjoy music from classic Klipschorn speakers. The store also provides various turntable setups for visitors to use.
Exact Location: 2-9-2 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0043 Japan
Tips and Tricks To Find Good Deals
Contact Your Local Shops Early:
Reach out to your favorite record stores ahead of time to inquire about their Record Store Day offerings and any special events or promotions they may have.
Know the Store Hours:
Familiarize yourself with the operating hours of your local record stores. This information will help you plan your visit and determine whether arriving early is necessary.
Inquire About In-Store Deals:
Don't hesitate to ask for in-store discounts or negotiate prices, especially if you're considering a purchase but find the price too high. Some stores may be willing to offer deals.
Check for Store-Specific Discounts:
Look for any special discounts or promotions that record stores may offer on Record Store Day. Some stores may have limited-time offers for customers.
By following these tips and exploring the diverse array of record stores in Tokyo, you'll have the opportunity to discover exceptional music and perhaps snag some great deals on vinyl records. Enjoy your record shopping adventure in Tokyo!