Tokyo – Vinyl Days in Shibuya

Shibuya is one of the most famous districts in central Tokyo. This is where the famous street crossing is where thousands of people cross over every time the lights change. Video here.

A famous landmark is the statue of Hatchiko the faithful dog of legend. The statue’s location just outside Shibuya station, next to the crossing, makes it a popular spot for meeting people, or to just get your photo taken.

My Google map is here.

Shibuya was mine and Shinsaku’s old stomping ground back in the 90s. We used to come here to blow our wages on vinyl records, both vintage and new releases, because Shibuya had, and still has, some of the best record shops in the world. Although not as numerous as they once were, there are some old favourites like Manhattan Records who are still going strong.

We also used to promote and DJ at a party called Maximum Joy, along with several other Japanese and British DJ friends. Imagine our dismay when we discovered that the basement space in Shibuya where we held the parties is now a Hyakkin! (a 100 yen shop which is the equivalent of a pound shop in the UK). They say you should never go back but it was funny to recall the goings on of twenty years ago and try to work out which shopping isle was once the dancefloor.

Both of us love Jazz so we went to this vinyl bar for a few drinks…

JBS (Intermediate A), 〒150-0043 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku, Dōgenzaka, 1 Chome−17−10 第2宝ビル 2F

JBS (Jazz, Blues, Soul) is what is known as a Jazz Kissa, a café or bar which plays classic jazz on a top notch home hifi. Jazz Kissas began after WW2 as places where people who couldn’t afford to buy their own vinyl could go and listen to their favourite music. Nowadays they’re usually run by older guys who’ve been collecting music all their lives and probably just need a place where they can house and listen to their massive collections. Once there were jazz kissas all over Japan but sadly they are now a dying breed.

The owner of JBS has a huge collection of vinyl that lines all the walls. The drinks list is very limited (just beer, whisky, rum and coke in this case) because it’s the music that’s takes precedence. There couldn’t have been more than a dozen people when we went and most of them were sat in silence reverentially listening to the quality sounds washing out from the old speakers. This is definitely a very cool place to seek out.

Uoshin (Intermediate A), 魚真 渋谷店 Uoshin, Shimada Bldg, 1F, 2-25-5 Dogenzaka

This is a popular Izakaya, which is the Japanese equivalent of a pub but with food. Like the Spanish, Japanese people always eat when they’re drinking.

Back in the day, our gang used to spend whole Sundays in an Izakaya after a weekend of hard partying. We would always get a private dining room where it was quite permissible to roll over on the soft tatami mat floors and have a nap when you needed to, and then rejoin the party later.

This place was a bit too busy for that kind of thing though and as there were just two of us, we shared a room with other customers.

I got to indulge my nostalgic cravings for much missed culinary favourites. Dishes we had included Tsukemono (pickles), Sashimi (raw seafood without rice), Kaki (panko-breaded deep-fried oysters), Crab Claws, all good (B/B+).

There are of course heaps of other great places to eat and drink in Shibuya. This place is a sound bet but look at my Google map for other suggestions. There are lots of other good shops as well of course. This is another favourite of mine…

Loft (Advanced A), 21-1 Udagawachō, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0042,

This is the flagship store (seven floors, count em) of a famous chain of stationary shops. You might think that sounds a bit boring but this place is a wonderland of homewares, gadgets and gimmicks which makes it great for buying souvenirs and presents to take home. I can happily spend hours here.

Shinjuku coming up!

Leave a Reply