Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tokyo, Japan





Japan is something of a record collector’s paradise with record shops just about everywhere. There are about 700 in Japan at the moment. What you will need to do before arriving there is to do some research.

The one thing I would recommend you pick up before you start your record shopping adventure in Japan, is the book entitled “THE RECORD MAP”. You can purchase the book at Disk Union and many other record shops. From what I understand this year’s ’2012 -’2013 and 26th edition will be the last one in print form. I suppose they may go to an online version in the future. The cost of the book is 2,220 yen, while expensive it is the 472 page Japanese record store shopping bible. The only drawback is that the entire book is in Japanese. The book has maps which are helpful when you ask a local for vectors to the next shop. 



 The address system in Tokyo makes no real sense; street signs almost do not exist and when they do they are in Japanese. When you are walking around you will need to keep looking up because that is usually where the next shop is, up on a 2nd, 3rd or higher floor. Sometimes the sign for the record shop is super tiny or in Japanese only or both so you may miss it. Sometimes they have nice sandwich board ads out on the sidewalk, sometimes they don't. It can be a real adventure finding these shops.


One trick you can employ to navigating your way around Tokyo is to keep an eye out for "police boxes". A police box is a small police station manned by one or more Japanese police who seem to do nothing more than give directions to everybody including the locals.

The subway system in Tokyo is real easy to navigate, signage is also in English. What you will want to pick up is a PASMO card which will enable you to ride all the subway lines, there are at least 2 different companies who own subway lines (Tokyo Metro and Toei lines) as well as some of the railway lines. The deposit for the card is 500 yen. And it will cost you about 1000 yen per day or so jumping on and off subways. It is easy to refill the card in all subway stations and there are friendly subway workers to help if you get jammed up.


There are all sorts of record shops, from the large chains like Disk Union and Reco-fan to the very small specialty shops. Some sell only bootlegs; in fact there are 3 of these bootleg shops in Shinjuku that are all within walking distance. Some shops specialize in only certain genres such as Jazz or Beatles or Funk, etc. The Disk Union chain you will find to be quite well established as the king in Tokyo with several shops in different districts. Some are multi level shops with a certain dedicated genre or format on each floor, for example one floor may be nothing but CD's, or a floor with nothing but vinyl or punk or metal or progressive rock or books. Pretty cool. 
The grading system in Japan is a little different than ours. The Japanese grading system is as follows: A, B, C.  A = Mint or NM, B, = NM or VG+, C = VG. I found most places to grade conservatively

The filing system is also a bit different. You will have to look around the whole shop because you may find Jeff Beck filed under J and you will probably find Johnny Winter there as well.



Here are the records shops in the Tokyo area by district:

Shibuya
There are currently about 17 record shops in the Shibuya area. All genres such as Hip Hop, Rock, Metal, Rockabilly, Soul, House and Modern Jazz and genre the Japanese refer to as "Black Music".

Disk Union - By far the most dominant record chain in Tokyo. This shop has 5 floors, Punk, Heavy Metal. Hip Hop, House, Techno, Dance, J-Pop, Rock, Jazz, Groove and Soul. There are fun things to find on each floor. The LP room is small but they do a pretty good volume here. There is even a 100 yen bin. Prices are not bad starting at about 380 yen and up on into the stratosphere. Most prices are in the 1000 to 2000 yen range but there are used LP's under 1000 yen to be found.

 
 
 
 


RECOfan - This shop is pretty huge. It takes hours to go through it. All genres under one roof. Lots of new and used LP's, CD's, DVD, vintage tour programs, movie programs, books, you name it. Prices start at 380 yen and like the rest of Tokyo, they are typically in the 1000 to 2000 yen range. They were playing lots of western music in this shop but nobody spoke English. There are about 5 more RECOfan shops around Japan/Tokyo although I didn't find any others that were still open. The Ikebukuro location is now closed.

 
 
 

Also in Shibuya:

The Perfect Circle - Blues
Oldies But Goodies Records - Black
Manual Of Errors SONOTA
Nothin' But Records
Rockers Island
Coco-Isle Music Market - Reggae
El Sur Records - World Music
Ours/Hours - Jazz

Shinjuku 

Shinjuku has probably the best shops and the most at 23. This is the area where you can find the bootleg CD and DVD's. This is the place all the rock stars come to visit when they are on tour and in town. It is customary that when they shop in the store, they get to walk out with whatever they want for free, of course it is also customary that they autograph a 12 x 12" paper and take photos that the shop owner then displays on the wall in the shop. Looks like Bon Jovi, Metallica, ZZ Top, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jimmy Page, and many others are all regulars in these little bootleg shops. 

Back Trip Records - This shop is full of bootleg CD, DVD's and some books and magazines. There is a cool photo of Jimmy Page and Ross Halfin displayed from when they visited the shop. The owner is really nice and speaks very good English, his staff does not.

 


AIRS Music Video - Just around the corner from Back Trip, this tiny place up on the 5th floor has all the bootleg DVD you could ever need. They aren't cheap. Check out the rock stars who have come in and left with footage of their performances and probably the performances of artists they like. I don't know how many autographs they have in here but the walls are covered.

 
 
 
 
 
Brad Whitford - Tom Hamilton - Aerosmith
Looks like Bon Jovi works here part time
 

Blind Faith - A shop full of bootlegs and they appear to be doing a very good business.

They even sell T-shirts with bootleg LP cover art, hanging there is a Stones "Welcome to NY" design.

Nat Records / Record and CD Warehouse - These two shops share the same floor separated by uh, nothing really. They have some cool stuff in here, some cool bootlegs LP's but the prices are a bit high. Nat has the punk and hardcore. Definitely worth a look. All of these shops are within a very short walking distance. 


 
 
 
 
Boot LP's galore

Shinjuku Records - Nice shop, I just didn't find much in here of interest to me.

 

Barn Homes Records - Same here, nice shop, nothing of interest.


 

Vinyl Japan - Walking into this shop I had high hopes since it was pretty big, well stocked and had good online reviews. It didn't take me long to figure out that just about everything in this store was not from Japan. It would appear the owner shops for his records overseas especially in America where his strong yen goes very far. The problem is, I am not shopping for super expensive American or UK pressings that I can get for much much less in America. I looked, I left. It could be that Vinyl Part 2 has better stuff.

 

206,900 yen, that is $2069. Nice record, with the poster and 7"
 
 

A Ska and Reggae shop.


Then there were these shops: All in the same building the 1st two on the 3rd floor, the Perfect Circle on the 5th floor.

Beat Collectors Records
Hal's Records. All Jazz. Hal was a really nice guy.


The Perfect Circle - All Beatles

Then you know, you're just walking around Shinjuku and you see shops like these:

 
 

Something for everybody.

...and of course Disk Union has a big presence in Shinjuku just on the other side of the JR Line railroad tracks. They have 6 different shops all in the same neighborhood each one specializing in either a format or a genre. You can see by their stock that they also have buyers in the UK and America spending those strong yens and shipping those collectible records to Japan where they put a big price tag on them. If you look long enough there are a few bargains to be had here at Disk Union though.

They have a flyer with a map of all the Disk Union Shinjuku area shops
 
 

Led Zeppelin anybody?

14,700 yen, that is $190. Nice looking LP, original obie too

 
 
 
 
 

A Disk Union store with nothing but Prog Rock


Punk and Metal location
Also in Shinjuku:
Garden Shed CD - Progressive Rock
Fineday Music
Red Ring Records 
Ned's Records - Noise
Dub Store Record Mart - Reggae, Black
Sawadee Shop - Thai
Raw Power - Rock


Remember, don't smoke while you walk down the street or the smoking police will write you a ticket. But it's OK to ride your bike on the sidewalks.


and then there was this kid, I call him "Fucked Up Shinjuku Hipster D-Bag Guy".

Very stylish with his Louis Vuitton belt and what not.

Ikebukuro 

Hashodo Shoten - This shop is pretty cool, they have lots of 300 yen LP's out front to lure you in, most do not have the obies. Inside you will find a decent selection and prices that are fair. All genres. Very helpful staff, one younger kid clerk did speak English.


Coconuts Disk - Nice shop, all genres, I just didn't find much here of interest to me, the prices were a bit on the high side. Worth a look for sure. They have another location in Tokyo as well.

 

Disk Union - Great location and they have a Book Union there on the same 4th floor as the music. Friendly staff and all genres. This one was a little hard to find. Find the shop and take the tiny elevator up to the 4th floor.

  
Jimbocho

Jimbocho is the new and used book district. There are book stores everywhere. There are also several record shops here as well. 

Record Sya - Nice shop, 3 floors, LP's on the ground floor. Some good stuff in here. Recommended.




East Record - A nice but small shop, I didn't find much rock, but there was plenty of jazz, soul, etc. 
  
 
 

Fuji Records - Lots of stock in all genres in this place up on the 9th floor, but the prices were pretty out there so I didn't hang out for too long.





Rubbergard Records - Closed on Wednesdays and guess what, I was there on Wednesday. Bummer. It seems there are several small record shops in Tokyo that are closed on Wednesdays.





Walking around you never know what you might bump into...

Just a random small shop with cheap records for sale...




Also in Jimbocho

Tony Records - Jazz
Root Records - Jazz, Vocal
Ams Record Shop - AOR
Tacto - CD's
Idea Classic - Classical




Ochanomizu

Disk Union - There are 5 different Disk Union stores in this area. All walking distance and also walking distance from the Jimbocho area. There is one location that has the following: 2F Hard Rock, 3F Death/Black/Gothic Metal, 4F Hard Rock/Heavy Metal. There is a Jazz store, and Classical store which in Japan they refer to as "Classic". There is a Soul, Rare Groove/Indie Soul shop, but my favorite Disk Union location was the main store,it has plenty of room inside to maneuver and a real good selection of Rock, Metal, Punk and just about everything else on vinyl. I also found some decent prices here. They also have a Book Union shop inside.

 
 
 
 
 
 


Van Halen boots
 
 


Also in Ochanomizu:
Birds Nest - Jazz, Classical
Funtime
Used Records 

You can also go to any of the many flea markets in the Tokyo area, there are a bunch of them. Typically they are on Sundays, some are also on Saturdays. Some only once a month. Check online for a schedule. Some of the online flea market schedules are all in Japanese, so good luck with that. I found some cool Japanese pressings at a flea market for as low as 100 yen.


To give you an idea of how serious the Japanese are about record collecting, they publish at least 3 different monthly publications relating to record collecting. All text is in Japanese but they are good for reference. They are in a paperback book format and can be purchased in the record shops usually at the register counter. Good stuff.

Strange Days

Record Collectors Magazine
Beatleg - All bootlegs



This place is awesome
This place, not so much, the menu is totally different from the U.S. menu
Japan's most wanted





57 comments:

  1. Very cool post!! I'm heading to Japan in a few days so I'll be sure to check out some of the stores you featured here.

    I always go to the various Disk Union locations and it will be interesting to check out some of the smaller, non-chain stores this time.

    Have you been to Drops Records in Chiba or Record Shop Base in Koenji?

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  2. I have not been to Drops or Record Shop Base. Feel free to post a review or any other information on the Japanese stores you visit here.

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  3. Definitely worth a visit for a vinyl head like me, great Blog

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  4. had to come back really good post, great pics and info

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  5. Thanks. I notice the exchange rate has improved lately making those expensive Japanese pressings a little more affordable ;-)

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  6. Great interesting blog. Will explore further. Visit my high-end jazz vinyl collecting blog here: http://www.1139indearoldstockholm.com

    Cheers!

    Fredrik

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  7. How do I contact foreign vinyl buyers if I have a large collection of R&B and Jazz I wish to sell? Thanks.

    Vinyl4tubes@yahoo.com

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  8. Brilliant post, thank you for that. I'm going to be in Tokyo for a work and have, probably, only a morning to myself in which to satisfy my need for Japanese Pet Shop Boys material. Based on your, or anyone else's recent experience, which stores should I select for such a short visit? Thanks! Dan

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  9. Thanks a lot, I had real help by this post when I was in Tokyo in april. You should add the shops to this page: http://www.recordshops.org/

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  10. thank you great post, look forward to checking out some stores

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  11. Hi! Is the Record Map book is in english or it is easy to understand even do it is in japanese? :)

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  12. Hello, the Record Map is in Japanese only. It has maps and other info. You will need help from a local who reads Japanese and can speak English to help translate to you the information in the book. The people there are very helpful but most people I met in Tokyo had limited English skills. Good Luck.

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  13. Super post!! thanks a lot...
    I am definitely into 70's - 80's 90's vinyl bootleg (especially old japanese labels but anything rare is welcome) as well as classic rock rarities (Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Doors, colored vinyls, promo only etc), the rarer the better (even though expensive) and could also bring similar stuff to sell / trade. Any specific shop/area to suggest? Do you know of any Collectors record fair for such rare items planned in 2013 and worth to go? Thanks for your help!!!

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  14. I know of no record shows happening in Japan this year but I do know they have them and your dollar is going a lot farther in Japan than it was in years past. Have fun.

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  15. Great Article. Just got back from Japan and was referencing this article. Luckily I walked in to Recofan in Toyko and it was the first day of a sale. After 2 hours of picking, walked out with a about 20 records, mostly jazz. I was paying round $10 per records - coltrane, davis, billy cobram, etc. The records were used but the condition was immaculate. The japanese look after their records extremely well. For those heading to Osaka there are a lot of records in town around a short walk from Dotonburi.

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  16. Domo for the post... I visit annually and as overwhelming as shopping in Japan can be, this info helps. Many hours to be spent between Shinjuku and Ochanomizu =^.^=

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  17. Thanks so much for posting this. Im desperately trying to find a 3" cdsingle from a Spanish group called Mecano. Is there any catalog where I could find the whole reference? I know it was published by BVCP but any hints to provide to the record shop would be best... thanks

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  18. Wow! There have been over 10,000 page views for this Tokyo post

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  19. Can anyone recomend which shops to visit looking for Rolling Stones?
    CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays LPs? Both bootlegs and officiall stuff, thanks!

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  20. Blind Faith in Shinjuku would be a good bet for boots, Disk Union and Recofan for official stuff those would be my picks

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  21. Hi..Anybody interested in Vintage Japanese Records of the 50s and 60s?....extended play 45rpm...I have 10 records for sale. Item location is Malaysia. Please email me aphilips007@gmail.com.

    http://albycollectables.blogspot.com/2012/04/vintage-japanese-music-records-1960s70s.html

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  22. Congratulation for the Post !
    Mr Andrea from Rome Italy

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  23. Platter World is open Saturday & Sunday 11:00 AM to 4:00PM. All stock must go! 500,000 records!!! We will be open several months Please, please check Face book for current information & location. "Platter World. Collectable Vinyl Records. See PICs there!

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  24. This is a fantastic post indeed! It would be nice if some info on how to get to the shops can be posted as well. Metalhead from Singapore.

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  25. Hi have a huge collection of original jazz vinyl. What is the best way to advertise my records in Japan. Currently i'm using ebay. Feel free to look. Many thanks for any advice you can give.
    Stu in London aahbaa@gmail.com
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/PART-2-0F-5-BLUE-NOTE-JAZZ-VINYL-ALBUMS-COLLECTION-RARE-ORIGINAL-RECORDS-/251567144200?pt=UK_WSJL_Wholesale_GL&hash=item3a9291fd08

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  26. hello everybody,how can i come to contact with BLIND FAITH store??i am looking for bootlegs cds..thanks
    my mail is hotbrakes44@yahoo.gr

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  27. http://vinylselection.com

    New site for vinyl and downloads.Limited edition coming out soon.

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  28. I am a former dealer collector selling off my own personal collection of rock and roll items from 50s, 60s etc. Looking to connect with serious buyers willing to pay reasonable prices for my items. I have LPs, 45s, picture discs, picture sleeves, magazines, books, posters, etc. If interested send me your want lists to ralphh248@bell.net

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  29. Up for sale is 700+ Premium 45RPM s from my small record collection. Some truly rare and highly desirable discs. Interested buys respond to 2murry@gmail.com.

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  30. hey vinyl record collector.

    i'm a music journalist from the UK researching japan's most avid collectors of music items. do you have an email i can reach you on?

    i'm matt(at)clashmusic.com. I'd love to speak to you more in depth....

    matthew

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  31. Hello, vinyl record collector,
    I´m looking for japan´s vinyl records (Nippon Columbia and Columbia records) of czech singer Helena Vondrackova, they release since 1970 to 1973. Could you help me, where I can found some eshop or auction?
    Lalena

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  32. Hi, I'm looking for a 7'' vinyl record of the japanese psych garage band "The Dynamites", the song of 1967 is called "Tunnel Tengoku" (or tunnel of heaven). Could you help me to find it somewhere? Thanks a lot!

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  33. I'm a casual collector (if you can even call me that), but I'm willing to spend a bit of cash to find a few X Japan albums.

    Occasionally you can find Vanishing Vision on eBay or Yahoo! Auctions for 8000-ish yen, which I have already, but I've seen copies of the Blue Blood double LP reaching into the 48,000 yen range. Will I have a better chance at finding something cheaper in a Tokyo shop than online? Which shops should I check?

    I don't plan on visiting Japan until early 2016, but I'd love to know if I should wait until then and have a good look around, or keep browsing online and scooping up whatever I can find. I'm not really willing to pay 48,000 yen though… but 10,000-15,000? Sure. What are the odds, I wonder?

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  34. Hi! Im seeking early ZZ Top Japan 45 pressings, what can you offer?!
    jankku72@suomi24.fi
    Thanks! Jankku Blomgren-Vuong

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  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  36. Hi vinyl record collector!
    Great Blog. Thanks 4 putting in all the time & effort 4 us all 2 benefit.
    Could u possibly steer me in best direction looking for original Roy Orbison Japan pressings 45s EPs etc from 1960s?
    Many Thanks

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  37. Hi

    I'm still looking for some Milva records 45 & 33 rpm. Can somebody help me with it?

    Many thanks
    Ger
    Gvdbend@hotmail.com

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  38. I am a Brit based in Chiba Japan and have recently begun providing a service ordering and shipping Japanese memorabilia and merchandise overseas (mainly US and Europe).

    If you have found vinyl or music goods in an on-line store, or on a Japanese auction site that you are unable to get shipped abroad, I act as a 3rd party ordering and getting them safely packaged and sent.

    I am also happy to try locating goods on-line or in a Tokyo store if using Japanese is a problem for you.

    Please get in contact any time for further information.

    j

    jbdnippon@yahoo.com

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  39. Oh this brings back so many great memories. I absolutely love Japan, I've been there 4 times already and each time was to search for vinyl. I agree - the Record Map book is essential, that combined with a heavy use of Google Maps on your smartphone.

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  40. Hello..the B-52'S are my thing..vinyl and in particular some cassettes from the band..during the 80's..WILD PLANET..the S/T LP..WHAMMY..and PARTY MIX..I am fortunate to have MESOPOTAMIA..Beautiful..Any suggestions please..

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  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  42. Hello,
    I am looking for the Japanese LP VINYL pressings of DEAD OR ALIVE "Sophisticated Boom Boom" with the PINK OBI, and "Rip It Up" with the filmstrip cover and obi. If anyone has these available, please email me at lawrenceslavek@gmail.com. Thank you!

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  43. Great Blog of informations on finding vinyls...thnx a lot! BTW anyone could point out how to find out Record Fairs dates in Osaka....wud appreciate it greatly
    Azmi Othman @ abgbro
    azmirugged@yahoo.com
    60123966437 of petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
    (trying to be a ) Vinyl Collector.....

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hello,
    I am looking for the TURBONEGRO " Retox""Party Animals" lp. if anyoene has these available, please emai me at robfue5@gmail.com. thanks!!!!!

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  45. Great record vinyl blog!

    Our stores since 1995. 100% US original press only.
    if you going to SHIMOKITAZAWA check it out.

    BEST SOUND RECORDS
    2-12-16-3rd floor
    kitazawa setagayaku tokyo

    TEL 050-1299-9239
    http://bestsoundrecords.net

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hi, i'm looking an Lp mexican mariachi music of the singer Roberto G. Rivera (50's),,,i saw on ebay by user 'vintage.garage.japan' (link) but they dont answers, nothing...pleasewhere can buy? thanks...gray_fox_die@hotmail.com

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/ROBERTO-G-RIVERA-Robeta-G-Rivera-Sings-HB-OP-9873-LP-Az7436-/371365046646/?_ul=AR

    ReplyDelete
  47. hello from italy!! great blog! one question,u know some japan records shop specializated in anime and tokusatsu bgm??
    thanx

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  48. Lots of Japanese vinyl on offer at http://spinauctions.com

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  49. have some polish jazz vynyl and british 10" jazz vynyl going surplus in excellent condition throughout
    is any one interested in them

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  50. Great post! Do you know the address to East Records in Jimbocho? I'm going to Japan and will be looking for jazz vinyls.

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  51. Hi, can someone help? i am looking for japanese record: https://www.discogs.com/Sandra-In-The-Heat-Of-The-Night/release/5438436 and it cannot be found anywhere:/ Any thoughts please? mirojaros78@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  52. hello ther,can someone help me to find bootleg labels like tarantura-zodiac-shades??
    mail to irondream33@yahoo.gr
    thanks

    ReplyDelete
  53. WANTED !!!
    The Sweet : Alexander Graham Bell ( 7" Japan )
    The Sweet : Poppa Joe ( 7" Japan )
    Please send offers to :
    kai.repphun@swr.de

    ReplyDelete
  54. Newbie to this blog but just came back from a visit to Tokyo where I was on the hunt for bootleg cd/dvd (not vinyl) shops in Shinjuku "bootleg district" and have a few bits of info that might be useful to anyone that's planning to go there. Backtrip Records became Used Shop Zassap a while back but I found out beforehand from the owner that he only sells online at zassap.jp now and doesn't have a physical shop to visit. Excellent stock and availability and he can ship to your Tokyo hotel for a very reasonable fee. I purchased 4 cds and 1 dvd online before leaving home and the order was delivered to my hotel on time and in perfect condition. You can email him with any questions from the website beforehand and he will respond within a day or two. While there, I did visit 2 shops in the Shinjuku "bootleg district," Blind Faith and Strangelove, and purchased cds at both places. Blind Faith being the larger of the 2, had LOTS of Led Zep and a good amount of Stones, Clapton and Jeff Beck as well. Be forewarned that most of the bootleg shops don't open till late morning or noon and close at 8 or so, and sometimes may close even earlier without warning. Bottom-line - GOOD HUNTING and HAVE FUN!

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  55. What I have been looking for!
    Will visit Tokyo next year. My main interest is psychedelic and prog.rock from the 1960-1970s. Woould be very grateful if you could recommend which shops to visit. Please send answer to: bksjr@online.no

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  56. One of the finest private collections of American music in the world is now available.It includes rare discographies, LPs,CDs,78s and rare printed matter.I represent the seller,please contact me if interested. Many thanks. Andrew Bycoffe/Countdown Entertainment.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Checkout my Blog Collection Here;
    http://z13.invisionfree.com/VOAVHBOOTS/index.php?act=idx

    ReplyDelete