CD shopping in Tokyo


As well known, Tokyo is the "paradise" for classical music CDs. Not only a lot of CDs no longer available abroad are still in the catalogue in Japan, but also many CDs are released only for the domestic market. Some major stores like HMV Japan ship abroad, but the shipping fees are often prohibitive. Besides, Tokyo has a wonderfulsecond-hand market, through the Disk Union chain.

Second-hand CDs are something to "see and grab" and cannot be ordered on line. During my stay in Japan (1994-2001) I have guided some friends to buy classical music CDs in the main stores in Tokyo. After my relocation in France (January 2002) my visits to Tokyo have forcedly become less frequent and I can no longer guide visitors there, unless theirs and my staying periods casually coincide. I have therefore setup this page as a general guide which will hopefully help people to safely reach those same stores.

Tips and tricks

Travel in Tokyo is expensive. If you include train tickets to reach the CD stores in your CD budget you may wish to limit the number of stores to visit. If you instead consider your visit to the CDs stores as part of your tourism, you may not include the travel expenses in your CD budget ;-) In any case, a return ticket to a CD store may vary from 160 to 500-600 yes, depending on where your are lodging in Tokyo (if you are outside Tokyo, the cost of moving increases significantly).

The largest choice of new CDs is probably at HMV and Tower. You may wish to look at the web sites of HMV and Tower before visiting the stores, in order to compare the prices (the website of Ishimaru Denki is only in Japanese). Although normally there is no big difference, both stores periodically do some special offers. The discount in this case may be worth the travel expenses to move from one store to the other.

You can find new CDs also at Disk Union, but the choice is limited and normally special discounts are not available. Disk Union is the place to look for second hand CDs. You can find both old and recent CDs on sale for 20-80% of their original price. With a bit of luck, you can find something you would have never thought to see , being out of print since long ago. On the other hand, you may find in the second-hand section also CDs which were released only a few weeks before, often discounted by 20-50%. I have bought several hundred of CDs for myself and for many friends, and so far I have never found a single defective CD.

Prices of used CDs are indicated on a label which may be of several different colours. Pay attention to that colour: it corresponds to a discount! At the entrance of the store, but also in several places along the shelves, you will see posters indicating which colour is discount that day, and the percentage of discount. Normally three colours are on discount, and the discount correspond to 20% and 50% (sometimes even 70%, but for few recordings normally of lower interest).

How to reach CD stores

In the following pages (linked below) I give indications, with photos, on how to reach five of the main stores.
Disk Union classical store in Ochanomizu - 20.000 CDs and thousands of LPs. The main store for CD hunting, where you can find almost everything. Prices are not always as low as one might expect.

Disk Union Classical, Jazz and Audio store in Kichijouji - 6000 CDs and hundreds of LPs, often at very interesting price. One floor entirely dedicated to classical music. Although smaller than Ochanomizu store, it has a nonetheless a large choice, and prices are often lower, perhaps because of its less-central position.

HMV in Shibuya - classical section at the 5th floor.

shinjuku Tower records in Shinjuku - classical section at the 9th floor, shared with Jazz and New Age.
akihabara Ishimaru Denki "Soft 3" store in Akihabara had Classic and Jazz, with a rich collection of "Japanese pirates" but I was told is now closed.