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Friday, February 21, 2014

Otokichi Shop

Before a lot of the old CDs got re-mastered, before I started dropping in at Tacto, and even before I looked deeper into the time-slipped Nakano Broadway in Tokyo, I used to go to a tiny place just a few metres or so near the north end of Nakano Sun Mall, just several metres away from the automatic doors leading into the geek town of Broadway.

I discovered it by accident actually. As I was looking for a bite to eat somewhere in Sun Mall, I saw a signboard on the west side which advertised old and used CDs. I didn't quite catch the name but later found out that it was called Otokichi(音吉). It was up on the 2nd floor of one of the many short and narrow buildings that were jammed into the covered mall. As was usually the case for these places, the stairs were steep and narrow...thank heavens there was a banister of sorts. The café just across from Otokichi was barely 30 cm away.

Of course, by that point I'd become a point card-carrying customer of the big stores like Tower Records, HMV and Yamano Music. However, one of the things that I had lamented about the major franchises was that they had very few of the really old stuff....from the 70s and 80s, unless the artists were still well-known commodities like Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子)or Akina Nakamori(中森明菜). Well, things changed when I first set foot into Otokichi. Greeted by a very small space, the shop looked like a section of one of the old library stacks that I had to visit to do research back in university. The fluorescent lights above glowed over shelf-lined walls with another couple of shelf cases smack dab in the middle of the narrow room. So, the aisles that were formed by that central shelf made things very tight indeed for a guy of my girth. I was just fortunate that I always swung by Nakano during weekday afternoons; at most, there was only one other browser and myself thankfully. Off on the west end of the long room was the office area manned by just one person at the desk which had the cash register.

I don't quite remember what I bought there. I know that I did get a few old CDs....perhaps one was an Ami Ozaki(尾崎亜美). But I do remember that the classics were there from the 70s and 80s in disc format and even in 45"s and LPs. There was an Ikue Sakakibara(榊原郁恵) here, some old Hiromi Iwasaki(岩崎宏美) there and a number of 80s aidorus too numerous to mention. And the important thing was that I paid a fair bit less than the de rigueur 3,000 yen plus tax that the major stores usually charged. I distinctly remember that I even made one purchase of a rare Ruiko Kurahashi(倉橋ルイ子) disc (as all of hers are) via the Otokichi website which got the owner's English-speaking customer buying a Kurahashi CD?! Incredible!

But all good things come to an end. And I found out that Otokichi was closing up shop after several years in Nakano Sun Mall. Apparently, the owner was packing up to head back to Hiroshima. By that point, I had discovered Tacto and some of the other used & old CD places in Tokyo, but it was still a pity to see that a shop that specialized in my admittedly very niche area of music was coming to an least in the metropolis.

I had heard that Otokichi also had a store in Shizuoka Prefecture or thereabouts, but I never went all the way out there from Chiba. However, recently a friend over here in Toronto who also still buys the old stuff asked me about Otokichi since he discovered the site online. Apparently that store still exists and selling ancient pop CDs for at low prices. I'm not sure if that owner is in direct supervision of that branch but I hope he can allow international purchases. In any event, I sometimes miss my weekday browsings through places like that....wondering if I will come across a gem of an album.


  1. Otokichi definitely accepts international orders. Masa (the main owner) even provides middleman service for those who want to buy items from Yahoo!Auctions and Amazon/Rakuten marketplace stores that don't ship outside Japan. So of my first oldies purchases were from that online store.

    I'll be visiting Hamamatsu, Shizuoka sometime in May, so I'm hoping to drop by the main Otokichi branch there There aren't a lot of shops in my area that specialize in 70's/80's music. It's just the big general chains like Book-Off and Geo (though those can be handy at times), so it's be cool to check it out.

    1. Hi, nikala.

      Thanks for confirming the information about international orders. Since I just got paid, I am sorely tempted to give it a try again. The middleman service is a definite plus!

  2. I live in the UK and buy online from Otokichi Premium regularly! He carries such a huge range in his two stores, with new stock added almost daily. Prices very reasonable and the goods are carefully graded. They arrive well packaged. He has a Facebook page too.

    1. Hi, Phil, and thanks for the vote of confidence for Otokichi. As I've hinted above, I miss the old store in Nakano, but I'm looking forward to doing business with it again. I checked out his website and it still says that there are two stores, including that branch in Nakano. I wonder if the owner opened that Nakano store up again.


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