Finding your way in Tokyo is not easy – addresses are hard to make out, you have to make a thorough research of the kanji in the area map before you venture out in the spot and asking around might be an adventure if you have microscopic knowledge of Japanese language such as I have. But I haven’t given up on finding my way here.
I have established some field-explorings. The first series naturally involves CD stores. As I am staying in Shibuya, I had the luck of having both HMV and especially Tower Records nearby. Those are the classical CD stores in Tokyo everybody outside Japan is supposed to know – but this project involves further investigation. In the pre-Internet days I used to buy via fax from Yamano Music, which I imagine to be somewhere in Ginza. But before I try my luck in Ginza, I have discovered Disk Union – Tokyo’s answer to Academy Records in New York. As almost everything in Tokyo, the Japanese version tends to be more sophisticated than the original. Again here – the classical music second-hand CD store has a very large collection of both CDs and LPs. I had the impression that they convert LPs to CDs – but I really had to speak real Japanese to confirm that. Their range of prices varies according to the item’s state – “like new” would be therefore a bit more expensive than “somewhat worn out” and so on. I confess I expected to find more rarities, but instead I did buy really low-priced “not-so-easy” titles.
As a matter of fact, on browsing around these three stores I’ve started to suspect that the days when Japanese catalogues had thousand of riches of unheard-of and long-deleted titles are over. There are still those “Böhm in Japan” treasures here, but the gap between Japan and Germany, for example, seems a bit narrower – what is good for the mankind, but a bit disappointing for me, who was waiting to show off some hidden treasures back in Brazil… :-)
In any case, my personal favour to visiting foreign classical CD-buyers in Tokyo is to explain the little map Disk Union offers in their website. When in Shinjuku station, look for the central east exit (look for the first kanji in the name of China, then there is a very similar two-legged one, then the first one in the name of Tokyo and then a square). Cross the street and go to your left until you are in a large avenue (Shinjukudori). Cross the street to the left sidewalk and go straight ahead. Look for the Kinokunya Bookstore, then it is the next building. You have to go to the building’s lobby and take the lift to the 8th floor. In the lobby, you’ll find the advertisement of Disk Union.