Episode 05T: Record Shops
5T?  What's this, another supesharu episode?  Nope, just the first
in a hopefully ongoing series of excursions to the techno side of
things in Tokyo.  I haven't been to enough clubs to be able to
venture an opinion and there are quite a few resources about them
out there already (in Japanese, that is), but record shops seem
to be ignored.  Well, fear not, here's the first edition of a
map of Shibuya's techno record stores -- courtesy of yours truly
and Satoshi-kun's cartographic abilities.
            \  /                         1: Disk Union / dp1
             \/* Tokyu Hands             2: Technique
              \  /                       3: Cisco Techno
                \              Seibu
          Koban *\     |  |  |   *|
              |   |[1] |  |  | |  |
              |                 --**--
          ----+--                 **
          [2] |                  /  Hachikou

Remember, this is Japan we're talking about, streets have no names
and buildings have no numbers so addresses are useless.  Instead
I'll take you there step by step.

Step one, get yourself to Shibuya station and the Hachikou exit.
Pick out Jingu-dori (the rightmost road, running parallel to the
tracks), walk one block and turn left onto a big road.
Seibu Dept Store should be on your right.  Walk forward until
the road forks with a bizarre metal contraption in the middle.
That's the Udagawa Koban (police box) and it'll be a central
reference point from now on.

Here's the first stop on the tour: Disk Union is to your left
and its third floor, also known as dp1, is the place to be.
While dp1's collection of new stuff is rather weak, it is the
best store in Tokyo for used techno CDs, since it's where all the
DJs come to unload their antique records.  Prices are in the
600-1200 yen range for CDs, expect to pay more for the good stuff
though.  dp1 also has lots of rap/hip-hop stuff, the other floors
of Disk Union have all other kinds of used music.

Next, take the left fork of the road at the koban.  Turn left
again at the next crossing, correct your course to the right
after one block, and soon you should see the red decals of
Technique, on the second floor.  Technique probably has the
best overall selection, especially the vinyl section will
cause serious drooling among DJs.  But the CD section isn't
bad either, under Sähkö (my standard measuring stick of a
record shop's hipness) there were no less than 10 albums
and singles.  Technique is also the place to get flyers and
buy advance tickets.

If you still have money left, backtrack to the koban and
take the right fork instead.  Walk past Tokyu Hands on your
left and don't turn there, but turn left at the next little road,
a peculiar-looking alley filled with graffiti and rapper-types.
Walk up the alley and soon you'll see (and hear) Cisco Techno
on your left.  A smaller but busier version of Technique,
Cisco has an impressive array of vinyl but a rather diminutive
CD collection.  Check out the flyers at the entrance, there are
so many that most stacks have holes punched and are strung up on the
wall.  On the other side of the road you can also find Cisco House.

That's it for the specialist stores, but don't neglect the giants
either.  The humongous 7-floor Tower Records has a surprisingly
weak selection of techno, just one shelf (3rd floor), but the
ambient collection on floor 6 (next to "ethnic") is also worth
a look.  And in the pop section I found an original, unopened,
KLF double-CD, White Room/Justified and Ancient, for 1500 yen (75 mk)!
(Free clue for the non-digerati: since KLF ordered the termination
of all licenses and the destruction of their back catalogue in
the early 90s, prices of KLF stuff have been skyrocketing and
I would have had to fork out around 20000 yen for the same 2CD in
a specialist store.)  While "only" two floors, HMV seems to have
a bigger techno selection than Tower, but WAVE atop the Loft
building is pretty crappy (and expensive).  The used-record chain
Recofan often has great deals (5 CDs for 1000 etc), but very
little non-pop stuff and that little is hidden deep in the shelves
and shelves of non-alphabetically ordered J-pop singles from

As for general music price levels, Japan is pretty expensive, but
still cheaper than the UK and Finland.  Imported CDs are usually
2000-2500 JPY, Japanese ones 2500-3000 JPY; LPs and CD-singles hover
around the 1000 JPY mark and anything used is half price or less.
One curiosity: the 3-inch CD, entirely unknown in most of the world,
is very popular in Japan and all local CD-singles are 3-inch.
Minidiscs are also very popular, a portable player/recorder is
less than 30000 yen and dropping lower every day, with empty
discs almost the same price as empty cassettes (a few hundred yen).

I mentioned flyers, so I might as well gloat a little: Tokyo's
scene is a "bit" bigger than Helsinki's, with some 100 parties
every week, and some of the bigger acts playing in the next few
weeks include Sven Väth, the Orb, and -- quite conviniently, since
I missed him at Kaapeli -- Cari Lekebusch.  Unfortunately, going
to more than one party a week, at 4000 yen a pop, would bankrupt
me very quickly...

Piisu, rabu, yunitii & resupekuto,

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