Jet Set Records, Shimokitazawa

Jet Set Records was created in 2003 and it can be considered now as an important player in the Japanese indie music world : based in the Kansai Region (West of Japan), Jet Set not only has 2 stores (1 in Kyoto, 1 in Tokyo) but it has as well a website with an English version (rare enough to be mentioned), with a mail order section AND… it produces its own records ! (about 50 per year).

Omuraisu, Toys and Records in Shimokitazawa

Omuraisu, Toys and Record Shop in Tokyo Shimokitaza
If you happened to be in Shimo-Kitazawa, do not miss this shop !
The reason is not so much the choice of second hand records (there is some) but the AMAZING collection of old vintage toys (mainly from Japan, but not only).
Shuichi Suma opened this store in 1988, he chose the name of a usual traditional dish (“omelette with rice” = omuraisu) and he piled up a lot (but a LOT) of in toys from the 50’s 60’s 70’s, figurines of a large variety of Japanese heroes, and many more very rare goodies.
Records are about 5000, all from Japan.
There is no website or possibilities to buy from far away (you really have to go…).
But, Mr. Suma explains that he sees quite a lot of clients from abroad because the uniqueness of his offer.
Why I am not surprised…

Nice Bldg 1F, 5-29-9 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0032
Tel : 03-3411-5262

Otonomad, Shimokitazawa

Otonomad, Record Shop in Tokyo ShimokitazawaMr. Takahashi opened this lovely little records shop, warm and well decorated, in 2008, while pursuing a career as a musician (he plays bass with the American artist Doug Scharin in the band “Him”).

“Oto” means “sound” in Japanese. And “nomad” is pretty clear in any language… Nice name for records collectors going all the way to Japan to find some good “sound”…
At Otonomad, you will be able to dig in about 3000 records (2000 vinyls and about 1000 CDs), all second hand, almost all the production being between 1960 and 1990 (no club music).
The website is user friendly, but only in Japanese.

For those who want to order, it is possible (but need to be done in Japanese).
You will find as well some interestingly designed T-shirts and a few books.

1F, 3-26-4 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku Tokyo 155
Tel : 03-3485-3946

Vinyl Story, Shimokitazawa

Vinyl Story, Record Shop in Tokyo ShimokitazawaThis is a small shop quite hard to find in a back alley (check the map carefully…), but it is worth the try. They have very high quality records, particularly on British folk from the 70’s, good old US rock and psychedelic music.

Mr. Shinji (the shop owner) opened this store in 1990. His business is based on what he calls “trade collector”, which means he does not travel abroad to buy records.
The available catalog is about 5000.
One thing to notice : Vinyl Story has a very strong interest about Vashti Bunyan !
Shinji-san plays bass in a band and Tetsuto Koyama, who watches over the shop as well, plays the banjo.
If you hear the sound of a banjo playing in the street of Shimo-Kitazawa, that means that you are very close to the shop…

Vinyl Story
#202, 2-21-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Tél : 03-3408-9077

City Country City, Shimokitazawa

City Country City, Record Shop in Tokyo ShimokitazawaLocated in the heart of Shimokitazawa, one very trendy and very friendly neighborhood of Tokyo, this lovely restaurant/record shop is a bit difficult to find (as all good things are…) because it is on the 4th floor of its building and you have to be careful not to miss the sign on the street.
The shop opened in 2006, it sells only used records and CDs (but 90% vinyls) and has a catalog of about 2000 references. They have a website for the shop and one for on-line sales (, but the site is only in Japanese.

Mr. Hirata, the shop manager, travels himself 3 to 4 times a year to the US (mainly to the Chicago area) to buy some records. He is not really specialized but he handles a lot of disco, cosmic and world music production.

Quite many DJs come to City Country City, as proven by the wall next to the small DJ booth, covered with various signatures. They have on a regular basis live sessions in the store.

City Country City
Hosozawa 4F, 2-12-13 Shimo-kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0031
Tel : 03-3410-6080

Flash Disc Ranch, Shimokitazawa

In Shimo-Kitazawa, make sure you stop by FLASH DISC RANCH, a really good records shop in Tokyo. The master of place is Masao Tsubaki opened up in December 1982 (waouh !) and is still the one behind the counter counseling youngsters about what to buy and DJing some good R&B, soul, jazz, etc. tracks.

As he announces himself, his specialty is “cheapies”. And rightly so, the price of the products sold in his shop are very affordable for any budgets, even very limited ones.

Masao likes to describe his work as an “incubator for young people”, which is why he tries to keep prices down. The result is that Flash Ranch is seen by many as a “family” or people who started digging and collecting records here (some of them years ago) and they keep on coming back.

Masao speaks very good English (rare enough to be mentioned) and this is a valuable point to dig in his 15 000 records catalog (mainly vinyls). If you can, try to visit on Saturdays and Sundays, for the “special new stuff”.

One more thing (well, two actually…) :
1- the cleaning lotion ! Home made, efficient, very soft on vinyls, Masao sells it all over the world !
2- the cd soft case !!! A perfect tool to store your CDs and gain space. That too Masao sells all over.
Check-out the website. It’s very welldone (great design).

Flash Disc Ranch
Misuzu Bldg 2F, 2-12-16 Shimo-Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0031
Tél : 03-3414-0421

Record Map, the Japanese Record Stores guide

Record Map - Japan Record Stores

For our first post of this new blog, aimed at presenting in English some of the best record shops of Japan, we could not do anything else than starting by introducing the people whose work made it all possible : the creators of the famous RECORD MAP.

For all of you planning to come to Japan and willing to discover even a small sample of what this country has to offer in terms of records (vinyl + CD), Record Map is your bible. In this little book, you will find a list (with addresses, contact numbers and maps on how to get there) of ALL the record shops, from Sapporo in the North all the way to Nara in Okinawa (along with a presentation of major on-line sales’websites + some interviews).
Only one little itch : it is all in Japanese (hence, this blog !).