Japanese Record Store Tributes To David Bowie

20160209_144908

David Bowie passed away a month ago, but I still haven’t fully processed the news. It’s still hard to believe that he’s no longer with us. He was such a presence in the pop world. And his music meant more to me than anyone else’s.

And his death wasn’t just a shock and tragedy in the Western world. David Bowie was huge internationally, especially in Japan. Even before his death, it was hard to miss Bowie’s section in most record stores here, and even less well-regarded albums like Never Let Me Down or his output with Tin Machine seemed to be held in at least some esteem here. Not a week goes by where I don’t see a rare Bowie LP go for an insane amount of money at any of the multitude of record stores here in Tokyo.

In Japan, record stores have a bit more personality than their Western counterparts. Even in major chains, it’s not uncommon to see handwritten recommendation notes by the staff, and custom tailor-made displays dedicated to more obscure artists and genres. With Bowie’s passing, many of these same stores have taken to commemorating his legacy with similarly DIY, custom-made displays. In the days and weeks in the wake of Bowie’s death, I visited several Tower Records and other stores to see how they were handling the Starman’s passing. I was pretty impressed.

And now I know how to spell David Bowie in katakana – デヴィッド・ボウイ。

 

20160113_121308

I first visited record stores in the days immediately following Bowie’s passing, and was surprised to see just how quickly they got memorial displays up and running, and how elaborate they were. This one was at the Tower Records in Shibuya, and located front and center on the first floor. Most of the time that space is reserved for brand new releases by Japanese acts, so it’s prime real estate. I thought that alone was a pretty substantial bit of floor space dedicated to Bowie, but it was just the beginning.

 

20160113_121316

Also on the first floor was this display commemorating his back catalog. As you can see, nearly everything was sold out.

 

20160113_121817

Same Tower Records, same day, different floor.

 

20160113_121822

Another empty display at the same store…

 

20160113_121959

…and yet another, it was pretty hard to find Bowie CDs that day.

 

20160113_121910

Blackstar was on loop that week.

 

Rows of Bowie posters lined the Western music floor.

Rows of Bowie posters lined the Western music floor.

 

20160209_145208

It’s a month later and displays on the rock floor still remain, with Bowie videos playing non-stop.

 

The Tower Records in Shinjuku is smaller than the Shibuya one, but they still managed to dedicate a fair share of their floor to Bowie as well. I went there just last week to take these pics.

The Bowie section on the rock floor was empty for a bit, but now it's packed full with damn near everything.

The Bowie section on the rock floor was empty for a bit, but now it’s packed full with damn near everything.

 

This Blackstar display went up the day the album came out and hasn't been down since.

This Blackstar display went up the day the album came out and hasn’t been down since.

 

Behind that Blackstar display was this rather large and impressive banner over the new release section. Bare in mind, this is one month after his passing.

Behind that Blackstar display was this rather large and impressive banner over the new release section. Bare in mind, this is one month after his passing.

 

And yet another banner in tribute. You see all of these right when you ascend the escalator.

And yet another banner in tribute. You see all of these right when you ascend the escalator.

While the Tower Records have the biggest tributes to Bowie, a few other stores showed their respect in smaller, but no less meaningful, ways as well. Disk Union, a very popular and prolific record store chain in Tokyo, had tributes up in many of their stores.

20160118_113351

This simple chalkboard memorial adorned one of the Shinjuku Disk Unions for several weeks.

 

This amazing mask is still on display, and they're now selling them.

This amazing mask is still on display, and they’re now selling them.

 

A small sticker adorned a Bowie display at another Disk Union location.

A small sticker adorned a Bowie display at another Disk Union location.

HMV still maintains a presence in Tokyo as well, and they had a mini-tribute at their Shibuya location, which is a pretty great store by the way. They deal mostly in used product, so I think they had a little less to work with than the other stores, still a nice little showcase nonetheless.

A strange hodgepodge of records, but better than nothing.

A strange hodgepodge of records, but better than nothing.

Sure, you could write off these displays as nothing more than cash grabs, slick moves by retail outlets to cash in on a tragedy, but I refuse to see them as such. Bowie was a legendary figure among so many people, and making it easier for those just now discovering his back catalog to get into his work and discover even more music by him can’t possibly be a bad thing. And seeing such tributes in a land so far from his home made me feel a little happier in the weeks following his death.

Below is a full slideshow of all the pictures I took from the various stores. Rest in peace Starman, hope someday I meet you, I think you blew my mind.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a Reply

Support Us!

Like what you're reading? Donations ensure more awesome articles!

Subscribe