In 2022, vinyl outsold CDs for the first time since 1987. The medium’s longevity is no surprise in Tokyo, where devotees have kept a passionate subculture alive through decades of emerging formats. Naturally, this scene includes scores of record shops, but a vinyl lover can find lots of other places to get in the groove, from hip hotel rooms equipped with serious audio gear to bars where the LPs provide the music and the decor and venerable coffee shops where the elderly proprietors have genre collections as deep as they are narrow.

Tokyo has far too many fabulous and niche places for this little article to provide a comprehensive list, but here is a cross-section of our favorites to get you started on enjoying Tokyo’s vinyl culture.

Listen Up: Tokyo Vinyl Bars


Since 1989, this little label- and genre-defying basement venue in the Hachioji suburbs has been a go-to place for music lovers and DJs. Shelter (stylized as SheLTeR) owner Yoshio Nojima equipped it with top-of-the-line gear including a Bozak mixer and JBL speakers, and then personally installed a kludge of foam and cardboard dampeners to achieve his preferred acoustics. The shop even has an original anti-static LP cleaning fluid developed to avoid any groove-clogging residues. And yet for all that seriousness about sound quality, the atmosphere is low-key, friendly and welcoming to regulars and casual visitors alike. Nearly every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday finds live DJs spinning from diverse genres into the wee hours of the morning.


On a quiet backstreet in Koenji, behind an unmarked door whose post-and-lintel façade is festooned with grungy stickers is a quirky little bar beloved by local DJs for a quarter century. Inside, more stickers cover every conceivable flat surface, while an avant-garde tangle of wood and tubing wraps around the booth obscuring the tables but not the massive JBL speakers and a one-of-a-kind homemade amp. Like Shelter, Grassroots covers a lot of ground genre-wise, but jazz and reggae often feature in the mixes as owner Toshiyuki Suzuki strives for the chill vibe of a house party.

Little Soul Cafe

Though rapidly gentrifying, still rough-around-the-edges Shimokitazawa is a hotbed for independent music culture. It’s home to alleys full of live venues, second-hand shops and the relaxed music bar Little Soul Cafe. Lounging on owner Nobuo Miyamae’s handmade furniture, guests can peruse a selection of more than 14,000 LPs focused on soul, funk, jazz and dance. The Bose sound system stands up to a buzz of conversation, often about how extensive the spirits menu is. Whiskey and craft gin feature heavily, but Miyamae’s true love is clearly rum, with around 100 bottles in stock at any given time. As it’s open daily, fairly central and foreigner-friendly, this is a great place to start your Tokyo vinyl adventures.  

The Music Bar -Cave Shibuya-

If you are looking for something a bit newer and hipper, this brick-and-leather Brooklyn-chic bar is for you. Originally part of the former Yoyogi Village development, the bar moved to a bigger, more ambitious space in the heart of Shibuya and now seats 60. It still has both the record and cocktail chops to satisfy, though  —  and an organic bistro-style food menu if you’re peckish. Off-beat original concoctions like the Busking Barmbrack (whiskey, calvados, passionfruit, pineapple, lemon, cream and soda) and visiting international bartenders draw the mixology crowd, while a hi-fi sound system with a Linn Sondek LP12 turntable, Bozak AR-6 mixer, McIntosh amps and Tannoy Westminster Royal speakers pulls in the audiophiles. The record collection ranges from 50s jazz to 80s rock and up to modern pop at times. The gregarious staff is usually happy to take a request. 


Hidden among the love hotels of Dogenzaka, this venerable spot is perhaps Tokyo’s oldest meikyoku kissa or hi-fi classical music café. Lion was originally built in 1926 by Yanosuke Yamadera, who used a background in architecture to craft a two-story space designed to enhance the listening experience. The building was destroyed in WWII but rebuilt in the original style in 1949, which is more or less how it remains today. The towering custom wood speaker setup is straight out of a steampunk fantasy and the high-backed wood and velvet chairs face this altar to sonic contemplation like pews, creating a reverent atmosphere. Guests can make requests from a collection of thousands of records, except during the hours of 3pm to 7pm, when they play staff-curated “concerts.” As with most listening bars and cafés, it’s best for solo trips because conversation is frowned upon.

Bed Down: Tokyo Hotels With Record Players

Don’t want the fun to end when you head back to your room? Can’t wait to listen to your latest bargain bin find? These hotels offer rooms with turntable included. We’ve selected three hotels to cover a range of budgets: luxury, midrange and most affordable. 

Trunk Hotel’s Living Suite includes a stylish wood-paneled ION turntable and Taguchi speakers, as well as a private bar and a movie projector if you want to try to sync up moves and music.

Stylish boutique hotel K5 is housed in a converted 1920s bank, leaving rooms with thick, soundproof walls. Fittingly, they’ve ditched the standard hotel TV and equipped most of their rooms with a Sony turntable, TEAC amp, and JBL 4312m speakers instead.

The most affordable option is the newcomer Mustard Hotel in Shimokitazawa. The lobby has a large LP library that guests can borrow from and each room has an ION Premier LP player. This hotel also offers a prime location for exploring Shimokitazawa’s many bars, live music venues and record shops.

Learn More About Tokyo Vinyl Culture