[THIS POST IS AT THE MOMENT OUTDATED AND IT IS BEING REVAMPED. IF YOU TAKE ANY IMPORTANT INFORMATION FROM HERE, MAKE SURE TO DOUBLECHECK THAT IT IS CURRENT]
This is a ground guide on how to get to a few shops in case you don’t have Internet around or your choice of e-maps fail you. Sometimes this happens in Japan because too many signals and inhibitors – especially in Shinjuku and Ikebukuro, signals get jammed. The problem is not where the place is, it is where you are – the phone can’t ping your position and sends you on endless turns. If you’ve never been to Tokyo before and don’t have landmark references, this can be very frustrating.
This post is heavily biased towards male bands, and the specialised shops focus on Vkei / JRock. This is because that is what I – Delijah – focus on (aka, what I like). If you’re interested in other shops, one of us can try to help, so feel free to ask and we’ll help you check. Keep in mind, however that this is somewhere we’ve actually been to, so we can give you first-hand experience and descriptions. We’ll talk about chains and smaller shops. However, keep in mind that especially second-hand shops change a lot, the material we found there does not have to be what you find there. Also, there’s a lot of construction going around, so landmarks can change.
Most of these shops open around 11 am and are open till 8 pm with some variations. If you want to be on the safe side, plan your visits between 12 and 6 pm and you’ll be fine.
- All the information in this post is current as of summer 2018. As we find out more information, we will try to keep it updated, but there is no 100% guarantee.
- The idea is that the information related to each shop is self-contained, so you might find repeated information if you read the whole post. However, the idea is that you don’t have to scroll up and down when you are looking for something in particular.
- Some of the information to actually develop this article (and previously getting to the shops themselves) has been crosschecked with:
- You might find the Hiragana: Syllable order for music shops useful for some of these.
Click on the pictures to make them bigger.
BOOKOFF [second-hand shop]
I’ll kick the post off with what is probably the Queen of the second-hand trade in Japan. BOOKOFF is a franchise, and thus it can be found almost anywhere. Here is the Store Locator with the biggest ones. Some personal favourites include Tokyo’s BOOKOFF Ikebukuro Sunshine City 60 St. Store and Kobe’s IKUTA DORI. The size of the shops vary from a random corner somewhere (usually close to Stations, I’ve run across random BOOKOFFs in Chiba or Nagoya just taking the station’s Central Exit. BOOKOFFs sell anything sellable second hand, mostly clothes, CDs / DVDs, and books / magazines / manga.
Focusing on music (CDs / DVDs) and films. In general, you’ll find things grouped by “format”, i.e., all the DVDs together, all the CDs together… Then you’ll find sections according to the ‘kind’ of item, and within both Japanese and foreign. Let’s see DVDs as an example: Within the DVD section, you’ll find films, Japanese and foreign (usually American), series / TV dramas, Japanese and foreign, music, documentaries… you get the idea, I’m sure. The areas will be marked with blue and dark blue markings, such as “音楽 J-Pop”. That stands for Japanese music. This is where you’ll find concerts and CDs. Within this sections the CDs are organised by artist names, in syllable order as explained in a previous post. You’ll have to pay attention to how shelves continue from one another, sometimes you’ll see that the area does a U-turn, sometimes you’ll have to go to the other side of the shelf. It can be confusing as hell the first time, but you’ll get used to it. Just try to think in “aisles” as the location unit. Every topic will try to take up one aisle.
In BOOKOFFs, you want to keep an eye for the red tags too. The red tags show discount prices (without taxes, you will have to add 8% to that price). Just to clarify, “円” stands for ¥. The most common discounted items CDs, and here is a good place to find singles, maxisignles (CD + DVD) and regular edition albums. Usually you’ll find 100円, 280円 and 500円 shelves / aisles.
It’s also noteworthy that some BOOKOFFs have special sections within CDs for singles or “agencies”. For example the Ikebukuro store has a “Johnny’s” (ジャニス) corner, with a selection of items. Others have a “maxisingle” (マクシシングル) area, where it stores all the CD + DVD editions. Lately (summer 2018), “Visual Kei” (ヴィジュアル系 or V-系) have popped up.
BOOKOFF prices answer to the artists’ popularity which goes along the demand. There are awfully expensive artists which are hardly ever discounted (looking at you, TOKIO). However, you’ll be able to find very good prices on albums, especially if there has been a re-edition at any point. Music DVDs tend to be organised by artist, too, but films and dramas are organised by the actual name of the work (which makes sense, else it would be a nightmare to find anything).
As of summer 2016 the Blu-Ray sections tend to be small and everything is around there, a bit on the pent up side, but getting more organised slowly. Magazines are organised by name of the magazine, and then by date. Photobooks are usually just a mess, but separated in female artists and male artists. And manga… It’s a controlled chaos that I may at some point figure out. Or not.
If you come across a nice-enough employee who is not freaked out at you, you’ll be offered a BOOKOFF card that allows you to access discounts and such.
Just like BOOKOFFs, there are hundreds of TSUTAYA in Japan. However, this one you will come across even without trying to find it. Meeting in front of Shibuya’s TSUTAYA is a thing because it is the easiest thing to find in the area, and you can see it from the station. Just take the Hachiko exit (at the end of the Yamanote Platform now that they’ve finished the construction) and look around. You’ll see the crossing and TSUTAYA on the other side.
While most of what TSUTAYA sells is “new release”, the second basement (B2) is dedicated to second hand games, DVDs / BRs and cards. You will be able to find films and concerts, but prices might be quite a bit on the high end. On the other hand, you have the guarantee that most of those DVDs have never been even played. For example, you’ll find a bunch of VAMPS things just bought for the VAMPSChance, then immediately resold. There are no goods, though, and you’ll mostly find “big label” releases. Oh, and if you’re into videogames, they are here too. Lots of them. I’ve actually heard people squeal at the videogame aisles.
Coming up from B2, the first basement has manga (B1), some of it discounted (might be second hand) and in packs. Anything that is not in a pack, will be normal price, marked on the back.
The first floor (ground floor for anyone else) is focused on brand-new releases, mostly CDs and DVDs/BRs, but sometimes manga too. This is usually full of people checking out their favourite artist’s stands. Taking pictures is allowed as long as you’re not being too obnoxious. The second floor sells CDs (singles and albums), DVDs, BRs and film tickets. Here you can find music CDs, concerts, films, dramas, plays, etc. This will have a big selection at full price, except for special offers. Third to fifth floors are rentals, and sixth/seventh floor hold books, magazine and a very cosy but ridiculously expensive café.
While this applies to TSUTAYA Shibuya, many other shops will offer you the same “new release” products. The second hand products vary – for example, in 2017 there were no second-hand CDs anymore, while two years before there was a whole shelf of them. In 2018 we found a whole shelf of discounted items aligned to a wall on the second floor. However, it’s true that a lot oft TSUTAYA end up having a small area for second hand or discounted items (usually what used to be on rental), so if you come cross any and have got the time, sniff around. Some gems can be found this way.
Address: Japan, 〒150-0042 Tokyo, Shibuya, 宇田川町21−6
Tower Records Japan
Just like TSUTAYA or BOOKOFF, you’ll find dozens of them, but you are bound to end up close to the one in Shibuya at some point. In order to get to the Shibuya Tower Records, just take the Hachiko exit from the station and head to the left. You’ll see the crossing, and beyond, in front of you, the TSUTAYA. A little to your right you should see the 109 Men building, on the other side of the road. Get on that sidewalk and continue walking, so you leave the TSUTAYA on your left. If you look up you’ll soon see the Tower Records Building. You might also be interested in knowing that Tower Records is tax free for tourists without purchase limit. You have to go to the special counter with your passport and your purchases and they’ll give you some money back.
The first floor (where you enter) has the “breaking new releases”, then you can go up for other items. I’ve read that it is actually considered one of the biggest CD retails in the world. Exploring the nine floors of this building is one of my goals for the next time, unless one of you volunteers for it?
Tower Records Shibuya:
Address: Japan, 〒150-0041 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku, Jinnan, 1 Chome−22, 神南1−22−14
Other Tower Records:
- A couple of years ago I was also in the Ikebukuro Tower Records, where a nice staff-san had built a L’Arc~en~Ciel shrine, but that one is not that easy to find. However, if you really, really want to get here, ask away and we’ll add the directions.
- There is another handy Tower Records shop, albeit not too big, in the Diver City Shopping Centre in Odaiba (the one that has the Gundam in front), on the fourth floor. This one has a small selection of the year’s albums and CDs and recent singles, mostly.
Mandarake Shibuya – まんだらけ渋谷区 [second-hand shop]
Mandarake / まんだらけ is yet another chain, this one focused on reselling stuff – mainly doujinshi of the NC-17 kind. Different Mandarake carter to different audiences. This is usually related to the area the Mandarake is. FYI, you can’t snoop the DJ before buying them, they come in li’l sealed plastic bags.
The easiest way to get to Mandarake Shibuya is start by the Shibuya TSUTAYA. This is right in front of you as you approach the crossing from Shibuya station’s Hachiko Exit. As you look at the front, you’ll have the 109 Men building to your right. You have to walk down the side of TSUTAYA and follow the street the 109 Men building is in, and then, on the first crossing, first cross, then turn left.
Continue down that street (Inokashira Dori). At some point it will bifurcate, but if you crossed before you’re fine. You’ll leave the bifurcation to your left (there is a police box there). Mandarake is on the right hand side on the second block after the bifurcation, and be aware that you will have to go down a few flights of
creepy stairs to get there. Sorry, for some reason the pictures did not come out, I know it would have been useful to locate it. However, there is a big sign reading “まんだらけ” and an arrow pointing down at the entrance.
In this Mandarake you’ll find shelf upon shelf of doujinshi, and towards the middle, a music section. They have a lot of Johnny’s merchandising, usually from concerts, and the most impressive uchiwa collection I’ve ever seen. Some boxes on the floor around the glass displays stock up on the JRock, but they’re easy to miss.
Address: 12-7 Udagawachō, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0042, Japan
There are many other Mandarake in Tokyo. For example there is another big one in Akihabara, close to the BOOKOFF. I’m not really sure of how worth hunting down merchandise in Mandarake is, considering there are many other shops. If it’s doujinshi what you’re after, then yes, this is your place though. We’ll discuss Mandarake Infinity in the next epigraph, as we talk about Nakano Broadway.
Nakano Broadway [mall: second-hand shops]
Nakano Broadway is the home of miniature and toys markets, nerdy T-shirts, a bunch of Mandarake and TRIO, amongst many other things. In order to get there, you need to go to Nakano station, and take the North Exit. Cross the square and the street and enter the covered shopping street to the end. Nakano Broadway is a shopping arcade. On the lowest floor (basement) there is a supermarket, but you’ll enter through the first floor (what everywhere else in the world is the ground floor). There is a small Mandarake exhibit to the right, but you want to make your way to the second and third floors. Be careful around here because a few escalators take over two floors. You want to be moving between the second and third floors.
Unfortunately Nakano Broadway (where most shops open at noon, by the way) has stated to become a tourist attraction, which has made shopkeepers a bit more distrustful of foreigners browsing around. Yes, some of us are willing to drop money on things, we know why we’re here.
Even if まんだらけ(Mandarake) leans towards doujinshi, it has traditionally had a little bit of everything (there is a huge one in Shibuya, for example) but in Nakano they seem to have diversified, and now there is one shop for each “fandom”: manga “for men”, manga “for women”, yaoi doujinshi, hentai doujinshi, general manga, comics, films, female artists and male artists… There is a small Mandarake called まんだらけInfinity on the third floor, just in front of the stairs (not the escalator) that sells cheap second hand stuff. While the bulk of it is Johnny’s Entertaining, other agencies, Korean pop and some JRock / Vkei can be found, on a shelf to the left. It is considerably cheaper than TRIO, but the truth is they have fewer things. This shop seems to be managed by fans, and they are very nice girls.
The other shop(s) you may want to check out are the TRIO then. There is only one TRIO as of summer 2018, the V-kei one on the third floor that has absorbed the girls into one corner. TRIO tends to have things nobody else has and sometimes it is hard to stop rummaging through the areas. The most valuable things are kept behind glass, and they are not shy at setting prices and things can kept on display for a long time (I’ve been lusting after the same Yoshikitty for a while now). Sometimes they make packs with several items, which is convenient and very price worthy.
There are other shops that will have different genres and styles of music and / or goods, so browse around to your heart’s content.
Address: 5 Chome-5-52-15 Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tōkyō-to 164-0001, Japan
Idol Shops in Takeshita Dori [second-hand shops / paparazzi shops]
All down Takeshita Dori you will find the so called “Idol Shops”. They, as the name may clue you in, mostly focus on idols, both male and female. While most of them sell “paparazzi” pictures which is not completely legal, a few will have actual goods, mostly from JPop and some “mainstream” JRock. “Paparazzi pics” or “papapics” are pictures of idols on their “time off” or most commonly from magazines or concerts – sometimes even before those concerts are released on DVD. The shopping procedure is as follows: you grab a pencil and a piece of paper, browse the hundreds of pictures exhibited and write down the numbers on them. then you go to the cashier, hand them the piece of paper and they’ll give you the items. Most pictures will be printed and plasticised for you, and while the general size is a small photograph, sometimes they’ve got “poster sizes”.
The shops appear and disappear, so keeping track of them is really hard. As you walk down Takeshita Dori, just look left and right. Keep in mind that you’ll have to look up and down for second and basement floor shops. The way to locate them is looking for pictures and posters of idols (male / female) decorating an entrance.
To get to Takeshita Dori, get the JR line to Harajuku Station and alight through the Takeshita exit. Cross the street, and you’re there. If you are coming on the metro, you’ll need the JR exit of Meiji Jingumae and turn towards the Harajuku JR station. A general recommendation: avoid Takeshita Dori on weekends and national holidays, and after school is out. It’s usually horribly packed but these will be peak times.
Johnny’s Shop Harajuku (ジャニーズショップ原宿店)
To get to Johnny’s Shop you’ll need either JR’s Harajuku stop (Omotesando exit). You have to go down Omotensando Street (not Takeshita), leaving the entrance to the park behind you. You want to be on the left hand side of Omotesando Dori as you walk, until you come across a metro exit. From Metro’s Meijijingumae, take exit 3, and you will be where you want to be.
If there has been a release, you’ll start seeing the queues around here. The Johnny’s Shop is on the left street that starts from the iQOSStore, (basically, it is the first street to the left from the beginning of Omotesando) within 50 metres, and to the left. You will notice that the actual entrance is “fenced” and there is a lady there controlling… everything. Johnny’s want to even bar you taking pics from the street, but I managed to sneak up a couple of them – I mean, how mean it is that the ban you from taking pictures on the street when there is like… nothing you can see?!
I’ve only been inside once, as let’s be honest, Johnny’s is not the most welcoming fandom in the world. I remember that they mostly had pictures. The method for getting the pics is like you’d use in idols shop, you write the number(s) you want and they’ll print the pictures for you. The pictures are organised by band, and they rotate. You won’t find eeeevery picture ever released from a band, but just the last few batches, or even the last batch. They have a small amount of goods – usually ticket holders, some photo books or penlights. You may also find concert goods that were overstocked and were never sold, but it is not really the main focus.
Shopping in the Johnny’s shop involves a lot of walking around and writing stuff in different sheets of paper, so if you are interested, we can ask a frequent shopper for instructions and post them.
Address: Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, 渋谷区Jingumae, 1 Chome−14−21, イルサリチェビル
(Just out curiosity: for “some” reason you can’t embed the “Johnny’s Shop” map. I had to ping the building opposite it to be able to embed the above one).
Like an Edison Jingumae (Harajuku) [second-hand shop]
This is located on the first basement (B1F) of the Lafortet Building in Harajuku, amongst all the goth lolli clothes. It is a small CD shop that we’ve found but did not go in, as we were in a hurry.
If you’re coming from the JR Line, your stop is Harajuku. You’ll have to take the Meiji Jingu exit and go down the huge street (Omotesando Street) that starts just at the entrance of the Meiji Jingu walk away until you are in a cross road. If you are coming on the Metro, stop at Meiji Jingumae and take exit five to find yourself in that very same crossroad. Leaving the park to your back, you need to turn left. The Laforet Building is right there on your left.
You’ll enter the Laforet Building through the first floor (1F). You’ll need to get down to the first basement, which is not the first you’ll find, but the second. There is a shop between the stairs and Like An Edison so you’ll have to go around.
As mentioned, this is a CD shop. Also, it is probably one a bit more on the “hardcore” side, a bit darker than the others. This Like an Edison works with some the less international bands, so you might not know everybody. It is tiny, but surprisingly well-stocked.
Pure Sound Shinjuku [second-hand shop]
This is one of my favourite shops in Japan. The staff is nice and don’t pull the omg gaijin face on you. The shop sells mostly JRock and Vkei related products, including but not limited to: CDs, DVDs, fanclub magazines, photo books, and collectible items. They also have some clothing, leaning towards the goth and lolli spectrum.
First of all, to get tp Pure Sound, you need the West Exit from Shinjuku JR station on the ground floor (using the convenient escalators provided by the Odakyu is helpful), since you are probably coming from JR and thus on the underground floor. Because that’s how Japan ticks. Anyway, you’ve stepped out into the steamy heat of summer Tokyo (or the unforgiving winter) and you need to step a little out of the station. There should be a Uniqlo to your right with the station to your back. You have to walk down the street leaving that Uniqlo to your right. As you continue down you’ll have to cross a street once to pass by a ticket shop. Continue straight. You’ll come to another crossing. To your right there should be the Yamanote line tracks. Check out for Godzilla amongst the buildings behind and above the tracks.
Now that you’ve seen Godzilla, you can cross to the other side of the road and continue straight, first straight, then to the left side of the street. If you stop just for a second you’ll see a Closet Child billboard on the building to your left, we’ll tall about that one later (there is a CD Closet Child but that one is for clothing). So you continue straight and on the left hand side, the same direction you were walking since you exited the station you’ll have a dent in the road (basically the second crossing, to the left). There you’ll find Pure Sound, which is on a second floor. Careful about that.
As you look at it, the entrance is to your left and you can come up be stairs or lift. As you enter there is music playing. The central part of the store are the CD / DVD racks. As you enter, to your right, are the “paper” categories: pamphlets, magazines and so on. Make sure to turn the corner for the first syllables of the Japanese alphabet. Further to the right there are clothes and other big items. The CD / DVD shelves are organised following the Japanese syllable order (with some small alterations to fit stuff) but you don’t have separation between CD and DVD.
Behind the racks are shelves with small articles – here you’ll have “boxes” with merchandise from different groups and the sales. The cashiers take all the final row to your left.
Address: Japan, 〒160-0023 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Nishishinjuku, 7 Chome−15 西新宿7-15-17
Closet Child [second-hand shop]
We are going to talk about three Closet Child in Tokyo. The three of them deal with music items, but they are not the only ones. There are several non-music Closet Childs, usually selling wearables (clothes, jewellery…).
Closet Child CDs Harajuku
The first step here is getting to Takeshita Dori. From the JR Harajuku Station, alight through the Takeshita exit and cross the street (this one is easy). From the metro take the JR exit of Meiji Jingumae and turn towards the Harajuku JR station. To get to the Harajuku Closer Child you need to walk down Takeshita Dori, until you see a 7/11 to your left. There is one street perpendicular to that 7/11, you need the next one, where you’ll be turning right. On that street you’ll see a clothing Closet Child.
However, this is not the one you’re looking for right now. Closet Child CDs Harajuku,, the CD / DVD / goods is on that same building, but around the corner. It is a few metres into the following alley and kind of hiding behind a staircase. This is mostly a CD shop, and the important stuff: they run sales. They don’t have that much merchandise, but usually what they’ve got is very interesting, usually in boxes on one corner. They’ve also have a pretty well-nourished shelve of paper material (organised by main band). The two guys carrying it are super-nice and they let you walk around without bugging you at all. I got my points card here, even if it was my first visit.
Closet Child CDs Harajuku (November 2018: We are informed that this Closet Child is “No longer there” but it might have closed temporarily or moved):
Official address: 1 Chome-6-11 Jingūmae, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0001, Japan
CD shop address: Japan, 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区 神宮前1-7-6 Coxy176ビル 104
Closet Child CDs Shinjuku
Shinjuku Station is the closest thing to Hell on Earth sometimes, especially if you don’t get your correct exit. In this case, you want the ground West Exit (to the street). This means you need to alight through the Odakyu Department store, and if you’re coming from the JR line, you’ll have to have gone up a flight of escalators at some point. Look for the Cartier billboard above you on the hall, then you’re in the right place. Now step out onto the street and turn right. You’ll pass a Uniqlo, a KFC and the Yamanote tracks (with Godzilla looming in the background) to your right. However, you actually want to be on the left side of the street.
First you’ll see a Closet Child billboard. Even if it announces CDs, this shop carries clothes and accessories, catering to two main audiences: Lolita and punk/goth. There is a more hidden Closet Child in Shinjuku, which is the used CD and goods shop, mostly like the kind of thing you would find in Pure Sound.
As of summer 2016, Closet Child CDs Shinjuku is located a few minutes away from the original Closet Child. Let’s recap: out of Shinjuku west exit, down the road, opposite side of the street. Continue walking and you’ll leave the Pure Sound (we’ve talked about this) to your left, as well as a Seven Eleven. Go past both, and you’ll eventually arrive at a second Seven Eleven which stands in a corner to your left. Okay, that’s it. Turn left, and Closet Child is in the same building as the Seven Eleven, on the corner behind it.
Most of this Closet Child is composed of used CDs and DVDs. They’ve also got some books, men’s clothing, and other goods – lately, a lot of Golden Bomber has been popping up. Quite a bit of Luna Sea too. The staff is usually minding their own business, so they feel a little less welcoming than the average Japanese shop.
Official address: Japan, 〒160-0023 東京都新宿区Nishishinjuku, 7 Chome−10 西新宿７丁目１０−２０ ワセダ ST ビル 4F・5F・6F
Shop Address: Japan, 〒160-0023 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Nishishinjuku, 7 Chome, 日新ビル
Closet Child Ikebukuro
If you thought that Shinjuku station was a nightmare, don’t expect Ikebukuro to be much better. To get around you need to find the Sunshine City exit, which is number 35 in the JR Central Entrance. Once you’re at ground level, continue straight. You’ll come to a bit of a square that ends on a crossing. If on the other side of the crossing, to the right, there is a Hello Kitty Store, you’re on the right track. (The Hello Kitty store is actually called Sanrio Gift Gate, and it has its own mini-entry in this post).
Cross the street and advance, leaving the HKS to your right. On the second “crossing” (you’ll notice that Ikebukuro is pedestrian-only most of the time), turn left and walk down one block. As you come to a new crossing, you should already be seeing it in the corner of the second block, to your right.
Closet Child Ikebukuro is on the fifth floor. The billboard sign announces 6 and 5 floors, but at the moment it has been relegated to the fifth only. Probably as they have expanded to more shops, the actual shops have become smaller. This Closet Child is more centred on clothes, but it has a small section for CDs, DVDs and goods towards the end and right side of the shop.
Address: Japan, 〒170-0013 Tōkyō-to, Toshima-ku, Nishiikebukuro, 1 Chome−20−5 七 福久 ビル ３ 階
Sanrio Gift Gate Ikebukuro
While there are bunches of Hello Kitty stores in Tokyo alone, you’re bound to come by this, if only to head off to Ikebukuro BOOKOFF or Closet Child. The Sanrio Gift Gate is located just at the beginning of Sunshine City in Ikebukuro. Take the Sunshine City exit (number 35) from the station and walk in the same direction you alight from the stairs. Cross the street at the end of the square, and it is to your right. This is mainly a Hello Kitty store, and sometimes they’ve got versions of JRock Hello Kitties. I’ve heard reports about them having the Kishidan ones, but I never saw them. What I did see were the Yoshikitty ones.
The staff here is super-kawaii, but tend to be scared of English. Be warned that you’ll end up with a Hello Kitty rewards card if you buy anything!
Address: Japan, 〒170-0013 Tokyo, Toshima, 東池袋1-12-10