Thursday, July 3, 2014

Vinyl Experience (11) Disappering record shops and Shibuya

Text:Fumimasa Hori

Until now, I’ve pursued the phenomenon of vinyl revival in the foreign countries, especially in the US and the UK. I had a plan to deal with Japan after I report the situation of the world little more. But, as I reported on the column the other day, the big news which HMV record shop shibuya will open come in. So changing the plan in a hurry, I will write about the circumstance of vinyl and record shop in Japan.

In first, vinyl revival in Japan doesn’t liven up like overseas countries. You can understand it when you see the shift of the sales of vinyl records in Japan. According to the data called the number of production of music soft by classification from Recording industry association of Japan, the sales of vinyl records in Japan has been hovering around since 1999. It is the peak of record sales, and it marked 2.98 million copies. From this year, the sales has been declining like falling down from a slope, it decreased to only 100 thousand copies 10 years after in 2009. However, the sales of vinyl records grew up 450 thousand copies in 2012, so I thought the movement of vinyl revival come to Japan finally, but it dropped into 260 thousand copies again in 2013. 

Although it is too easy to judge by only this data dealt with newly issued records, it is sure that it is different from the US and the UK where the sales of vinyl records has been grown up every year, and mass media have featured the phenomenon of revival frequently. I feel so when I go around record shops usually, or I watch twitter and the news on-line. But, I think Japan also has livened up slightly as there are very long lines on Record Store Day this year.

As with the sales of vinyl records, the number of record shops has been declining for about 10 years. It is symbolic that Recordmap (the book which publish a lot of record shops all over Japan) which is an indispensable item for diggers for a long time went out of existence two years ago. That tendency remarkably appeared in Shibuya and Shinjuku where were the record shop towns on behalf of Japan. When I check the number of record shops in Shibuya published in Recordmap, there are 57 shops in ‘97 ver, 63 shops in ‘02 ver., 33 shops in ‘08 ver., only 22 shops in 11 ver. We can see it was steady from later 90’s to early 00’s, it was already on the decline in mid 00’s, and it suddenly fell into since later 00’s. For your information, When I look up the number of record shops in Shinjuku, there were 59 shops in ‘02 ver., but they fell into about half, that is 31 shops in ‘11 ver.

Below essay is the document I wrote on another blog when I went around the site of closed record shops in Shibuya 3 years ago. It is little long, but if you read this, you may understand partly how many record shops in Shibuya have been closed down, and how the townscape of Shibuya have been changing.

"I go toward Shibuya. It’s the first time since 311. Since the earthquake occurred, I don’t like to go out far away, and it’s only a few time I went to the heart of Tokyo in fact. But when I was  writing  about record shops in Shibuya on recent entries within a few days, I’d like to check what kind of tenants open in the site of closed record shops, so I come to Shibuya.
In first, I go to so-called “Cisco-zaka”, the crowded area of record shops. At the beginning, when I look Hot Wax (I had stuffs in this shop appeared at my event.) where was good at abstract or Drum’n’bass, a modern cafe has opened there. As Banana Records or Recofan in Kichijoji where recently closed down, I wonder again that restaurants frequently open in the site of closed record shops. But, a recycle shop of cellular phones is in business in the site of Cisco Techno Shop where is located neighbour to the right of Hot Wax.

On the other hand, a café has also opened in the site of Cisco House shop where is located 10m from Techno shops. I think this café is good at music, because the poster of Jeff Mills when he come to Japan is sticked on the door or vinyl are displayed on the wall, this café seem to be managed by a house label, Unity Records. Going down the“Cisco-zaka”and walking straight across the street, I go toward the direction to Yoyogiuehara from the T junction. A record shop, called Soul Junction must be located in this street. A shop which deal with materials for restaurants has opened in the shadows there. This is a different type of shop, but I feel it is also relevant to restaurant.

I make U-turn on the street, and go toward Shibuya station. Remembering Fuji-soba where I used to eat while digging for rest, I am walking. Although I look a record shop, Sam’s in the first basement floor of the building where is located in the first crossing, there are no tenants because I guess the shop were just closed down last year. Then, I walk toward Tokyu main store, I turn to the left in the place where convenience store, Sunkus is located. There were Demode where was good at electronica in the building near to the corner. The shop must be in the 4th floor. When I check, there are “Bar Ishee” on that floor. That is a bar Mr.Ishee who I contact through twitter manages a few times.

Walking straight on the street, a restaurant has opened in the place where Recofan center street store is located in. After that, I dig a little in Disk Union,  and go toward Recofan BEAM store. There were Spice records where dealt with the whole club music including techno, house, hiphop in front of the BEAM building, next to PARCO. But, the new building has built in that place, an Izakaya or a shop like stalls has opened. I check vinyl records in Recofan BEAM store for a time, then I get off the elevator and go out from the right exit. There were house-related shop, Sonus. A café seem to open there, but a paper written ”we’re closed  because of the earthquake” is stuck.

I go toward HMV, no I mean Forever 21. an izakaya of South Korea has opened at the place Jazzy Sport (they don’t close, but move) located in. I’m concerned that the number of cheap izakaya like this is increasing. Finally, I go up the hill across Tokyu Hands, and arrive at Banana Records. The place was kept at distance from record shops gathered, nevertheless I used to go here. Because they dealt with various genre I can dig well-balanced, so I loved their lineup. But a shop of eyelash extensions has opened there.”

Shibuya has exactly changed for this ten years. For me, current Shibuya where we can’t feel a heated atmosphere of music culture and many cheap shops opened is ubiquitious town in suburbs. Although I think  when CISCO closed down and record shops in Shibuya have been really fading is about ‘08, before this year, in ’07 Shibuya district announced the guideline of redevelopment around the Shibuya station. The plan has gone on steadily, a shopping mall Hikarie was completed in 2012. On the one hand Hiakarie has been crowded, on the other hand unique independent record shops have been fading. Will Shibuya become an ordinary town, losing their distinctive feature? Or will they gradually take the vigor back they had on their best days as HMV record shop Shibuya will play a key role? I’d like to look back Shibuya when they were followed by foreign musicians as the sanctuary of record shops in the next time.(cont’d)

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