Holly and I took a day trip from Osaka to Hiroshima yesterday. We only had about five hours in the city, so I only picked out one record store to visit – the shop/label/bar/curry restaurant known as Dumb Records. Much like our recent challenges in finding Bootsy’s Records in Kyoto it took us a couple of back-and-forths across the street before we finally found a lobby mailbox with a Dumb Records business card on it. It also turned out we were there a bit before opening time so we decided to wander around a bit. Exiting the building we turned left and what did I see but…
〒730-0029 Hiroshima Prefecture, Hiroshima, Naka Ward, Nakamachi, 2−2 末広ビル2階
This turned out to be one of my favorite shops of the trip, and Holly agreed for a somewhat different reason – they had many of their second floor windows open, which made the space very comfortable inside. I can’t tell you how many times on this trip we stepped into a record store and quickly had our energy levels sapped by the heat and humidity inside. So given the nice breeze we were able to spend a little bit of time poking around. Stereo Records is, like most Japanese record stores, relatively small, but everything is well organized and labelled. (♠) I continued to focus on sections devoted specifically to Japanese artists and the first thing I pulled out for closer inspection turned out to have a quite unexpected connection to something I’m way into. A look at the reverse of Audio Active’s 1997 12″ Robot War revealed that it was recorded at On-U Sound and produced by none other than Adrian Sherwood! Big score here for me. I also grabbed the 1984 artist comp Viva Lava Liva by Sandii & The Sunsetz, though unfortunately without the OBI.
If you can only make it to one shop in Hiroshima, you can’t go wrong with Stereo records.
5-15 Mikawacho, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 730-0029
From there we headed back over to Dumb Records. The space is tiny and primarily laid out for the bar/curry restaurant and lounge thing. We tentatively planned on sticking around for a beer, but the folks already there were smoking and in a small space like that it’s just a bit too much for us non-smokers. The music section is quite small and almost exclusively punk rock, and it probably won’t take you more than a couple of minutes to flip through everything. The guy working there (not sure if he’s the owner…) pointed me towards his band’s record, the 2014 Piston Bop Nite!! by So-Cho Pistons which he described as Ramones-style punk, so I picked up a copy. A good stop-off if you’re into punk rock.
And so ends our trip to South Korea and Japan. I’ll be coming home with a nice bag full of vinyl by Japanese artists as well as a stack of CDs and even a cassette. I highly recommend both countries as vacation destinations, with the added benefit that you can feed your vinyl habit a bit while you’re visiting.
(♠) Almost every single record I touched in Japan was in its own plastic sleeve, and most of these were the re-sealable kind. Used records usually have a large paper tag at the time with the name of the artist and album, often the condition of the record, price, etc., which is pretty useful even for a non-Japanese speaker.