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Monday, September 28, 2009

WJAAS - Trip to Japan... from the beginning or...

... why not beginning from the bottom?
Afterall, what's about audio? Music, don't you?!?! ... and after visiting among the most famous workshops and audio wizards, also experiencing a shrines/gardens/pagodas/castles and audio hardware overdose... I re-found myself and my temper browsing for GREAT vinyl (and some disks) in Tokyo, on my very last full day in Japan.
... someone said that if you don't find something in Tokyo, it is not available elsewhere!
True or false, tale or... try to think at the last time you kept in yr. hands a mint copy of 10 inches Miles Davis' mono disc "Ascenseur pour l'Echafaud" on Fontana label, original French pressing!!! It happened twice in two second-hand shops, must say among the very best of all Japan, some hundreds meters from each other.
It happened also with, maybe, a most sough-after disc where Bill Evans, the late, great piano player and musician, gave his "Waltz for Debbie" great song and title to Monica Zetterblund, a nice, handsome female singer whose nice persona smiles from the Philips disc cover.
I saw jazz records which I only read about... a reissue would have been rare, BUT an original from, say, early '50s of Lou Donaldson's sax or Oscar Pettiford's double-bass... well, I wasn't prepared!
When I stepped the stairway to second and third floor of Disk Union, when I entered in second-hand vinyl room, I felt a breeze and shivers: a STRONG smell of vinyl, carton sleeves and dust... a mix I almost loose my legs!
I took some pixes before launching myself in the most in-deep records browsing in years... imagine other customers looking at a gaijin who, to be able to look in all bins, took some 15 cm discs bulk and, with clever, quick fingers arriving to the very end of the record bins in few minutes...
The japanese style is... would you imagine?!?!... very different: in a pachinko-like, gun-machine extremely noisy fashion, they, with some dexterity, quickly extracts ALL records for half their size from the bunch and look at half a cover;-)))
The disc is then suddenly pushed back in place and so on and on... a noise which must be heard to be believed... this pachinko syndrome impressed me a lot, at least to the same extent I impressed my browsing neighbourhoods with my fingerstyle;-)))
What I saw in my browsing, folks... my poor bank account would have been sipped in few seconds!
I saw a gentleman blissfully handling YEN 420.000 bills for - say - a dozen records... Miles' Six Eyes, Verve, orange Impulse, etc. sold at sums fetching the cost of a second-hand motorbike;-))) - I felt a penny-pincher... better, I'M a penny-pincher!
For that reason, on my next trip to Japan, I'll bring with me some cheapos Deutsche Gramophone's for records swapping... you find them at 1 EUR price-tag in Germany and... voilà... well worth YEN 4000 to 15.000 in Tokyo... and, no: I'm not talking about DG's 136XXX "tulip labels"...
After an indeterminate, extremely busy and pleasant amount of time, and some credit card handlings, I transferred myself to a tiny shop which I already saw hours before, but whose opening time was quite.. elastic...
Finding it "open", at last, a Coltrane B&W poster and a Miles' greeted and welcomed yours truly in this... 50 square meters heaven!
A bit on the expensive side of shop, BUT the owner was using a Garrard 301 with an Ortofon 212 arm and a SPU cartridge, Quad II amp and preamp and Lowther's PM-6 in a gravel... yes, gravel... tamed enclosures.
As I experienced several times, he proudly showed a photo-album of his home stereo system... as my wife said, after my return: "Stereo is REALLY japanese national sport!", and, pals, with Sumo and baseball, it is, indeed! Not sons or nephews pixes, but horns and tubes pictures, handy for proud chatting.
Had a nice listening to a Bill Evans' old Verve and to a mono copy of the Miles' masterpiece I quoted above.
Once again, the miracle of music esperanto worked where my japanese and their english didn't worked.
... and all this (and more...) only three metro stops from my place in Ikebukuro... simply take "Marunouchi Red Line" and, after Hongo-Sanchome, stop in Ochanomizu... out of Tokyo Metro station, take the bridge leaving hospitals (sic!) behind you and you'll be in Heaven.
A Vinyl Heaven...

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