I visited several vinyl bars in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo in January 2016
The second bar we visited, the first one we stopped for only a sip of beer, was called the Reggae Bar. Reggae music playing, a few Japanese already there, drinking their beers. I was quickly impressed by their vinyl collection. The whole wall beside the bar was filled with LPs. Row after row after row, from floor to ceiling. And much more than reggae it seemed.
I am a huge fan of LPs and vinyl. I only listen to that at home, but do have Spotify so I can listen to music at work. When I travel I like to listen to the place I am visiting, and never listen to music, except when it is playing in bars of course.
I always try to buy some records when I am travelling, preferably from local musicians, but I have found other treasures as well. I have a growing collection of Japanese LPs now.
As I got to know Shimokitazawa in Tokyo I found several bars sporting an impressive collection of LPs. I loved sitting by the bar, chatting with the bartender, requesting different music. The bartender usually found something cool among his records, whatever I requested.
Sosanji became our bar of choice. A second floor bar located in central Shimokitazawa, only a few hundred meters from the train station. I would drop by several times during my trip, sometimes with friends, sometimes alone. The bartender and owner, and like in so many bars in Japan, the only person working there, was a nice guy with a vast knowledge of music. We had many an interesting concersation.
I was sitting at Sosanji with my date, we had just finished dinner, a meal of yakitori. Sosanji was still quiet, but that was about to change.
The door opened, a girl and a guy walked in. The girl was off her face. As the guy sat down by the bar, the girl fell down on the floor. The guy helped her up and onto a bar stool while she shouted ‘Akai wain’, red wine. As the bartender served her the bottle of wine she fell off her seat, she was back on the floor again.
Her friend then helped her onto a sofa standing by a table in the room. She protested, wanted to sit by the bar. Wanted her wine. As her friend went to get the wine she fell asleep. We did not hear more from her that night, her friend shared her bottle of wine with the bartender, my date and I.
Shimokitazawa is a great district in Tokyo, a place I have fallen in love with. Not as developed as most parts of Tokyo, and with a great music scene. In addition to the many vinyl bars there are also many live houses, where local upcoming bands can have concerts. Shimokitazawa surely is a music neighbourhood and well worth a visit.