A Guide To Buying City Pop In Tokyo

A while ago I wrote a comprehensive guide to record stores in the greater Tokyo area. Ever since then, I’ll occasionally get an email from someone about to visit Tokyo, and they want to know the best stores to find their targeted genres. 

These emails used to be comprised of people asking about soundtracks or heavy metal. Now they’re almost entirely from people asking about city pop. I was right, this is becoming a thing.

So I thought I would save everyone the trouble and just detail here the best stores in Tokyo to find city pop. 

 

All HMV Locations

The HMV stores in Tokyo are relatively new, with all of them opening over the past four years or so. They’re all great stores for all types of music, but lately they’ve really stepped up their J-pop games, and at reasonable prices too. The Shinjuku location in particular seems to have a hefty selection of J-pop from the 70s to today. They do have their own placard for “city pop” but I’ve noticed that a lot artists typically lumped in with that category are also filed away in the general J-pop section as well, so be sure to check all around when looking for particular artists.

The Shibuya and Kichijoji stores also have a decent selection of city pop and city pop adjacent LPs, although at those stores you’ll find no city pop section, so you’ll have to dive into the general record stacks to get what you’re looking for.
Shibuya HMV
Kichijoji HMV (2nd floor)
Shinjuku HMV (6th floor of the ALTA building)

 

Coconuts Disk (Ekoda and Kichijoji Branches)

These are two very different stores with very different inventories, but in terms of city pop, they have a bit of an overlap.

Kichijoji is more of a general purpose record store, with a medium-sized diverse inventory that runs the gamut across all genres and countries. Their J-pop section is robust though, and is conveniently split by sub-genre, making it easy to scan through the 70s and 80s genres full of city pop, while avoiding the pure jazz and later stuff that probably won’t hold your interest.

The Ekoda location is very much a different store, heavily skewed towards the esoteric, idiosyncratic, and just plain weird. That might not sound like a place to find jazzy and disco-inspired J-pop, but it turns out that they have quite a few, you just need to know where to look. They have a city pop section, and you’ll obviously want to check that out, but be sure to scope the jazz fusion, grooves, and electronic sections. Lots of Japanese disco and dance music ends up those sections as well.

There are two other Coconuts Disk locations in Tokyo, one in Ikebukuro and another in Yoyogi. Both are nice stores, but neither are well-stocked in city pop.
Kichijoji Coconuts
Ekoda Coconuts

 

Recofan (Yokohama and Shibuya Locations)

It’s easy to recommend the Shibuya Recofan, no matter what your interests you should make it part of your trip. It’s huge and conveniently located smack dab in the middle of Shibuya, right by the HMV. That’s the main reason I’m including it in this guide, actually. Recofan may be huge (and the Yokohama store even more so) but its not exactly organized. There is a J-pop section, but its rather sparse, so you’ll be better off skimming the sales and new arrivals sections. The only problem with those is that their entirely unorganized, with music from all genres and countries just mixed together. If you’re going to crate digging for city pop here, know what you’re getting into. Maybe clear your afternoon.

The Yokohama location, while a bit out of the way, is far more organized than their Shibuya store. So while it is a hike to get there, the experience of searching through their store is much easier. Additionally, not many tourists make their way out there, so you might have better luck in terms of selection. Keep in mind, just like the Shibuya store, there is no city pop section, it’s all mixed in with the rest of the J-pop.
Recofan Shibuya
Recofan Yokohama

 

Shinjuku Disk Unions (Showa & Japanese Rock Locations) 

These are some of the easiest stores to navigate when it comes to scouring for hard-to-find and obscure records, not only are they meticulously organized, they’re also very small, so you’ll be in and out in less than an hour.

The Showa store is dedicated to music from the 60s to the 80s, with a heavy lean towards sugary bubblegum pop and idols, while the general Japanese store includes everything from 70s disco to Japanese prog rock. But both carry city pop on CD and LP. These stores are practically side-by-side on the same street, so if you visit one, be sure to visit the other. 
Disk Union Japanese Store (Basement Floor)
Disk Union Showa Store (The link says “Heavy Metal Store” but the Showa store is in the same building, in the basement.

 

Fuji Records/Records Sha

These two stores, which I believe are partners in some way, are located in Jimbocho, a bit west of Shinjuku. From the looks of them both, they’ve been around for a very long time. They were probably carrying the trendy city pop records of the moment back when they were new releases.

Fuji Records is a massive store located on the ninth floor of an office building. They have a massive selection of classical and 78s, but they also stock a fair amount of J-pop. Everything in here is in Japanese, but if you know what you’re looking for you should be able to find it with the help of the shop staff. Browsing might be a bit difficult though.

Ditto for Records Sha, which is a bit down the street from Fuji. It’s a three story store, with the Japanese stuff on the first two floors. You’ll probably find city pop stuff on the first floor, but don’t forget to look through the jazz on the second floor, sometimes it can sneak in there too.
Fuji Records
Records Sha

Again, these are not the best stores in Tokyo, just the stores that I think are best for hunting down city pop records. If you come to Japan to buy records, even if you’re only looking for city pop, please do yourself a favor and check out as many stores as possible! They’re all unique in their own way and you’ll never know what you find! Be sure to read my guide, and anyone reading this can feel free to email me (click on about/contact tab) and I’ll do my best to help you.

Happy hunting!

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