The world’s best record shops #006: Disk Union Shibuya, Tokyo

The world’s best record shops #006: Disk Union Shibuya, Tokyo

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DU

Our quest for the world’s best record shops takes us to Japan’s hyperactive metropolis.

Every week, we pick out one must-visit spot from a different city around the world with photos and a little bit of history. Think of it as a kind of 1000 places to see before you die for record shops.

Having touched down in London, Berlin, Chicago, New Delhi and Paris, we’ve got vertigo in Tokyo this week at Disk Union’s towering five-storey Shibuya store.

A trip to Tokyo is incomplete without a visit to a Disk Union outlet. Whilst the main Shinjuku shop is eight floors high, it’s the neighbouring Shibuya branch that enters our WBRS series.

Disk Union Shibuya

Location: Antena21 Bldg. BF, 2F, 3F, 4F, 5F 30-7 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0042

Go for: More used vinyl than you can possibly fathom.

What’s the story? Established in 1967, Disk Union today is a sprawling network of vinyl shops spanning Shinjuku, Ochanomizu, Shibuya and since 2015, Osaka city.

Don’t let the size of the flagship Shinjuku branch fool you though; it’s the Shibuya outlet that’ll blow your mind. There’s an astonishing number, somewhere in the hundreds of thousands, of new and used records from right across the genre-spectrum, conveniently filed by floor.

The first two floors cover used vinyl of every stripe, so the perfect place to head if you’re an omnivorous beast. Up a flight of steps and you’re in dance and hip hop heaven. Keeping going up for punk, hardcore and heavy metal and various derivatives. Meanwhile downstairs in the basement is where you’ll find the sort of rare groove, soul and jazz that Discogs wantlists are made of.

With tonnes of rare Japanese pressings knocking around, don’t be surprised if you leave with an overdrawn bank balance and an overstepped flight allowance.

  • Richard McMuffin

    I was just doing the rounds of Tokyo’s Disc Unions last week, & respectfully, have to disagree with this article. The basement section of Shibuya’s DU is amazing and jampacked with soul, jazz, funk, reggae & world, but the other floors are pitiful when compared to Shinjuku, where you have entire shops devoted to a single genre – a jazz store, a rock store, a black music store (nowhere near as good as the Shibuya one) and then the 8 storey mix of formats.

    • Diego Garcia

      I agree with you. Not the mention customer service lacks in Shibuya branches. Trust me, as a foreigner living in Tokyo I’ve seen them all. Actually depending on what you looking for. It all comes down to look. One week you find that rare record in the general DU stores of Shin/Shib. While other weeks its the smaller places not even in Tokyo, but Saitama. Its hard to say how their system works. Also price wise you might find the same rare record for different prices.

  • Nice one!

  • teflondog

    I agree with Richard McMuffin… Shinjuku’s “Disk Union Dori” (DU Street) is better with its individual genre (and format) dedicated shops. But I guess that’s more difficult to classify as a singular record shop for the purpose of this list.

    BTW, where is the index or full list of your WBRS?

    Also, in recent travels I stumbled upon the best record store I’ve seen in quite some time. In Nanaimo, British Columbia (a ferry town on Vancouver Island) there is shop called Fascinating Rhythm. They had two records I’d been unable to find in Tokyo that I’d been in search of for a few years.