Record Shopping – Kyoto, Japan Style

This was out second trip to Kyoto, Japan the first of which I documented HERE.  I knew for sure I wanted to re-visit Jet Set and since we were only in town for part of a day I had to be strategic in where else I stopped.  So with that in mind I settled on Bootsy’s Records, which has a good reputation and as an added benefit is only a few blocks from Jet Set.

Bootsy’s Records
三条通河原町東入中島町105 タカセビル 3F, 京都市中京区, Kyōto, 604-8004, Japón, 3F

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First things first.  Actually finding the record store you’re looking for in Asia is like some bizarro urban geo-caching experiment where everything is in a different language and you’re on acid.  We had the address and a Google map for Bootsy’s from VinylHub but… but it showed it on the north side of the street and it’s on the south side.  Plus a lot of shops don’t have any kind of sign out front or on their windows (like Bootsy’s…), so sometimes you have to walk into a building lobby and look at the directory.  And maybe the name of the business you’re looking for is there in English, but then again maybe it isn’t.  So needless to say it took us a good 15 minute to find Bootsy’s even when we were on the right block.

Bootsy’s is a small but well-organized shop with what appears to be a heavy emphasis on DJ-type records – stuff you can pull beats from, both electronic and soul, jazz, funk, and world.  I kept my focus on Japanese artists though, eventually deciding on a new wavy comp from 1984 called Selections From Excommunicated Monument which looks pretty slick and is chock full of local artists.  Definitely a worthwhile stop, though one you can probably get through fairly quickly.

Jet Set Records
〒604-8006 京都府京都市 中京区下丸屋町410番地 ユニティー河原町ビル6F

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If you can only visit one shop during your trip to Kyoto, Jet Set should be that shop.  Yes, most of the titles are new.  But the selection is deep in the worlds of techo and electronica, broken out by subgenre, and pretty respectable for Japanese artists of various genres.  I came away with a 2016 hip hop release from Monypetzjnkmn, a reggae/hip hop mix album by Line Best called Akio Beats Remix, and a totally random indie cassette that I literally can’t tell you anything about  because it’s all in Japanese and our hotel room doesn’t have a tape player in it.  Because why wouldn’t I buy that for $10?  Plus Jet Set has the coolest record bags on the planet.

Kyoto has a lot going for it, including a decent number of record stores.  I only wish we had more time this visit, but such is life.  I have a feeling we’ll be back again…

Record Shopping, Kyoto (Japan) Style

Our exploration of Japan wasn’t over after a week in Tokyo, so the other day we boarded the bullet train to Kyoto for a four day stay.  I knew the music store scene wasn’t going to be as big here as it was in Tokyo, but I had a line on a shop called Jet Set that I wanted to check out and figured I’d see what else I might find along the way.

It turns out there is a Tower Records here too… though it didn’t appear to be nearly as large as it’s Tokyo sibling, being limited to one floor.  We decided to forego a visit since we figured they were unlikely to have vinyl, so alas I can’t give you a review of that location.  What I can do, though, is give you some info on two very cool stores in the city.

Happy Jack

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We ran across this place totally by accident while meandering through a pedestrian mall, and truth be told I decided to not bother heading up to the third floor to check it out since the sidewalk sign seemed to indicate it was CDs and DVDs only.  But curiosity got the better of me and I went back, thankfully, to take a look.

It turns out most of the floor space in Happy Jack is taken up by vinyl – mostly 60s/70s rock, psych, garage, jazz… you get the idea.  There was a nice small punk section, including a subsection of Japanese punk bands. The prices were reasonable (at least to my eyes), and I made some random purchases – Japanese acts M-Band, Kai Band, and The Mods, along with a sort of punkish compilation called Straight Ahead – Tokyo New Generation.  The shop was well organized by genre, subgenre, and down to some specific bands.  There were also some CDs, but I didn’t look too closely at those.  Definitely worth the stop, especially since it’s in a huge shopping area – set your girlfriend, wife, or partner loose for half an hour and go visit Happy Jack.

Jet Set

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First let me just note that Jet Set has one of the coolest logos of any record store, anywhere in the world.  I know – this shouldn’t matter, and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t.  But their old school, Pan Am Airlines inspired design is retro cool and makes for some nice buttons, stickers, etc.

Jet Set’s selection is heavily weighted towards all kinds of electronic (broken down into lots of subgenres), jazz, breaks, reggae, and hip hop, but they do have a smattering of other stuff as well.  I was hoping to find more on my visit here, but I was sort of out of my depth given the stuff they specialize in.  I did, however, find a couple of Japanese vinyl nuggets including Les Rallizes Denudés and a comp called Ongaku 80:  Alternate Waves From Japan, featuring material from 1979-84.

I’m coming home from Japan with a full record bag, and even a handful of CDs (but no cassettes… though there was a display of them at Jet Set).  Since I wasn’t looking for “collectible” items and focusing almost strictly on Japanese bands the prices seemed decent – I spent anywhere from 300 yen (about $3) and up, and the quality was good.  Japan gets the thumbs up for vinyl fans.