Thursday 18 December 2014


The entrance of Tower Records in Kyoto,
on the 9th floor of OPA Building,
 in Shijo Kawaramachi (Kyoto's shopping district).

Remember the days when Tower Records ruled the roost? It was like going to a supermarket, except what you were buying were classical CDs, with forty-seven different versions of Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto to choose from! 

Tears were shed when the chain closed in USA (I've actually been to the famous San Francisco outlet near Fisherman's Wharf and the Lincoln Centre outlet in New York City) and the two outlets in Singapore (Pacific Plaza and Suntec City) both pulled down their shutters for good.

The good news is that Tower Records lives again, but in Japan. Actually it never closed down in the Land of the Rising Sun. Digital downloading has yet to catch up in a big way in East Asia, so physical CD recordings are still selling, but for how much longer? 

There are far more classical CDs here,
than in HMV Oxford Street, London. 

Empty spaces, Empty corridors.
One thing Tower still persists in doing is
to play heavy metal at highest possible decibel levels.
Are they trying to drive customers away? 

(Not that they needed help anyway.)

Neatly arranged CDs, but not in any
discernible or alphabetical order.
In the one-hour or so I spent at the classical section,
I was the only person browsing. A sign of the times?

The music section of Kyoto Yodobashi,
massive department store near Kyoto Station.

More CDs on display. CDs in their Japanese pressings
retail at surprisingly reasonable prices.
Most reissues go at 1000-1200 Yen plus tax.

A selfie for the family. My son had never heard
of Tower Records in all his life.
That's how bad the CD retail industry has become. 

1 comment:

Kevin Tan said...

Awesome, Tou Liang. I must make a trip to Tokyo soon. When I was studying in the US, I made a monthly pilgrimage to the Tower Records main store at East 4th Street and Broadway and spent even more time at the Tower Records Annex round the corner where they had the most amazing bargains. Thanks for the memories!