MUSIC & RECORD SHOP 8-SPOT HOP (Nishi-Ogikubo) (New! 1/30)

Exploring the Lesser-Known Music Spots of Nishi-Ogikubo
[published January 2024]

No visit to Suginami is complete without stopping by Nishi-Ogikubo, or “Nishiogi” as it is often affectionately referred to by locals. While renowned for antique treasures and eclectic markets, our focus is on the lesser-known aspect of the area: The music shops.
This walking guide includes a variety of amazing record stores, a guitar shop, studio spaces and a vibrant live venue. Though Nishiogi might not be as well known as its musical neighbors (looking at you Koenji), the charm and style exuded by these places make it a must-visit. So let’s get started!

Share Music Tent

(consignment record shop)
First on the list is Share Music Tent. The innovative young entrepreneur behind this unique shop developed the idea for a consignment record store after seeing something similar being done with books. She put her love of music and connections with local musicians to good use and created Share Music Tent. The concept revolves around floor-to-ceiling shelving divided into 32-centimeter square boxes, perfect to hold LPs. The individual boxes are stocked, priced and decorated by the individual sellers so each space reflects that seller’s tastes and style. Not only does the shop benefit from an amazing and varied selection, but it also harbors a sense of connection based on a shared love for music.
On the shelves were a number of affordable reissues as well as an enviable number of original pressings with appropriate price tags. A listening station was available to sample the selections and the atmosphere was friendly and inviting. This is a perfect spot to begin this tour through the lesser-known music culture of Nishi-Ogikubo, but be sure to bring a bag big enough to hold an LP or two. This place was difficult to leave without picking up a few must-haves.

Price:

(wide range)
Address:
3 Chome-8-9, Nishiogi-kita, Suginami, Tokyo
Distance from Station:
6 minutes from JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station, North Exit
Open:
3:00pm - 9:00pm, Closed Mondays & Wednesdays (Tuesday & Wednesday when Monday is a holiday)
Website:
https://www.instagram.com/tentrecord/ (external link)
Communication:
Staff speak Japanese only.
  • no-smoking

Nishiogi Unknown Records

(record and rock music memorabilia shop)
Next up is Unknown Records, only a short walk from Share Music Tent, but it has a completely different vibe. As soon as you step into the shop it’s overwhelming how much is packed into such a small space. After getting a better look it was probably twice as big as Share Music Tent, but it was arranged in such a way that it probably had four times as much merchandise. The number of band T-shirts was what took up the majority of the space. If you are looking to up your T-shirt game, this is the place to do it. Everything looked new so we’re not talking original vintage clothes here, but you can skip the mosh pit sweat stains and paper-thin cotton of vintage shirts and start fresh. Whether you’re a fan of Megadeth, Ozzy, Nirvana, or almost any other band imaginable (Dillinger Escape Plan anyone?) you're likely to find something here.
Beyond the T-shirts, patches, hats, socks, stickers, back-issue music zines or whatever other band-themed gear available, the record and CD collection was also quite impressive. The majority revolved around straight up rock music, but there were several other smaller sections of reggae, alternative, world etc. and in the main rock section were a number of genre-defying musicians, so part of the fun in this shop is the unexpected discovery after flipping through as much of the collection as you can make time for.

Price:

Shirts around ¥3900, wide range for vinyl and CDs
Address:
4 Chome-3-2 Nishiogi-kita, Suginami, Tokyo (2nd Floor)
Distance from Station:
7 minutes from JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station, North Exit
Phone:
03-3396-3490 (Japanese only)
Open:
1:00pm - 5:00pm weekdays, 1:00pm - 7:00pm weekends, Closed Thursdays
Website:
https://nishiogi.unknown-records.com/ (external link)
Communication:
Staff speak Japanese and limited English.
  • no-smoking

Monozuki

(old coffee shop full of antiques)
After mining for gems in those two worthy shops it’s time for a short coffee break. Luckily, right up the street is Monozuki. This has been a staple of Nishi-Ogikubo since 1975. When you pass by it on the street the aura of the place very much fits with the area’s fame for antiques. Housed in what looks like an old stucco church, complete with stained glass windows and antique signage, it’s impossible not to be curious to see the inside. It certainly does not disappoint either. Ancient wooden beams and pillars recycled from other buildings with their telltale signs of intricate Japanese carpentry make up the interior structure, while numerous antique clocks line the walls and lamps of every shape and make illuminate the dark wood and old plaster walls in a soft inviting glow.
This is not the place for elaborate, sugar-laden coffee beverages, however. The main draw beyond the place itself is the exquisite single-origin hand drip coffee. You select the bean you want and then enjoy a leisurely look around at this one-of-a-kind kissaten, or old-school Japanese coffee shop. The menu is in both English and Japanese so if you do want to order something besides the coffee it should not be an issue. The menu is divided into three categories: coffee, tea, and food (which only takes the form of toast with various toppings), but there are a few other menu items that looked interesting. For any coffee, antique or otherwise cool-place enthusiast, this one is not to be missed.

Price:

around ¥500 for coffee
Address:
3 Chome-12-10, Nishiogi-kita, Suginami, Tokyo
Distance from Station:
5 minutes from JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station, North Exit
Phone:
03-3395-9569 (Japanese only)
Open:
11:30am - 8:00pm
Communication:
Staff speak Japanese, English Menu available.
  • no-credit-card

Replace Records

(great records in an old bonsai shop)
After recuperating a little and fueling back up on caffeine, your fingers will be twitching to get back to flipping through vinyl so the next place on the tour is Replace Records. Just opening up in April of 2023, they had a tremendous head start in ambiance. The location previously served as the home of a bonsai shop and much of the interior design left over from that establishment remained in place. There is a very chill and somber vibe in this shop. Much of the records are on display in old wine crates and there were just enough adornments and memorabilia, like a Black Flag skateboard and Daniel Johnston alien toy, on display to let you know you were in a record shop, without being overwhelming enough to draw attention away from the large stone slab floor or bamboo and rock garden design just off center in front of the register.
The selection was well worth flipping through as well. There were a number of albums worth grabbing and the prices ranged from two hundred yen up into the thousands for the rarer finds, but all in all it has a very well-rounded collection. The name Replace Records comes from the owner’s love for The Replacements and there was certainly an alternative, punk vibe to much of what was on offer, but by no means the only genre available. In fact, Replace is very much an all-genre record store. Of course, there was a turntable available to check out new sounds to take home. The shop is also doing their best to buy used records for reasonable prices, so feel to bring in records to sell as well!

Price:

(wide range)
Address:
2 Chome-5-1, Nishiogi-kita, Suginami, Tokyo
Distance from Station:
4 minutes from JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station, North Exit
Phone:
03-6824-5039 (Japanese only)
Open:
Sun, Mon, Thu, Fri 12:00pm - 8:00pm; Tue & Sat 3:00pm - 8:00pm, Closed Wednesdays
Website:
http://replace-records.com/ (external link)
Communication:
Staff speak Japanese only.
  • no-smoking
  • no-credit-card

G&M Guitar Shop

(classical guitars, ukulele, and accessories)
Now that you have a bag full of new vinyl to call your own, the next stop is G&M guitar shop. Founded in 1994 and in its current Nishiogi location since 2009, the shop also boasts a guitar school on the 2nd floor above the shop. The training and instruments for sale are, unlike the rest of this tour, of the classical variety. Whether you are just appreciating the beauty of the instruments or wanting to find a unique model to take home with you, this is an excellent place to browse or try-before-you-buy.
They have rare models from all over the world and even such top-quality vintage instruments made by the apprentice of the famous luthier, David "Jose" Rubio. Newer and student models can be had from the 50,000 - 100,000 yen price range, while vintage instruments can reach closer to 250,000 yen. For more compact instruments, there are short-necked alto guitars, and some beautiful one-of-a-kind handmade ukuleles by "An Art Kobo" starting from 60,000, or you can pick up a kind of ukulele-hybrid, beginner's 4-string guitar for around 40,000 yen. They also sell rare sheet music that is only available at G&M. An Art Kobo also makes the intricately carved gourd lanterns on display in the shop, also for sale! The artistry of the instruments and the inviting atmosphere make G&M well worth a visit.

Price:

instruments from ¥40,000
Address:
3 Chome-19-11 Nishiogi-minami, Suginami, Tokyo
Distance from Station:
5 minutes from JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station, South Exit
Phone:
03-3332-3165 (Japanese only)
Open:
11:00am – 6:00pm, Closed Tuesdays
Website:
http://www.gam-tokio.com/guitarshop-newpage2.html (external link)
Communication:
Staff speak Japanese only.
  • no-smoking
  • no-credit-card

Rinky Dink Studio Nishiogi

(music practice studio)
To try out your new guitar, stop by the Rinky Dink Studio, or bring a pair of drum sticks and go to town on the skins. They also rent electric guitars or bass guitars for only 120 yen/hour so you can plug in and play to your heart's content! There are keyboards and a separate piano booth available as well. In Tokyo, musicians need rehearsal studios like this in order to practice without driving the neighbors crazy, but anyone is welcome so take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy some music of your own.
If you want to rent studio space its only 640 yen/hour for one person and you can reserve a day in advance or simply walk in. You can also book online up to 3 months in advance if you know when you want to do your Nishi-Ogikubo music walk. Advance booking for one person ranges from 700-880/hour depending on the space. You can save a little if you bring a friend; for two people it's a bit less than double and for bands you can save even more per person. They have excellent equipment here, and the largest room also functions as a live music venue on weekends. There are great punk/hardcore acts and even some artists from abroad. Live shows here are run by Nishi-Ogikubo Flat. If you want to play music or check out a DIY-style live act during your trip this is a great spot to do it.

Price:

1 hour solo studio time starts at ¥640 (1 person)
Address:
3 Chome-17-2 Nishiogi-minami, Suginami, Tokyo
Distance from Station:
4 minutes from JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station, South Exit
Phone:
03-3335-9131 (Japanese only)
Open:
10:00am – 12:00am midnight (closes at 11:00pm if there are no reservations)
Website:
https://rinky.info/studio/nishiogi/ (external link)
Communication:
Staff speak Japanese and limited English.
  • no-smoking

Pit Bar

(live punk music venue)
Next on the list and a perfect way to get into the heart of the local music scene is Pit Bar. This is a live music venue where a lot of local bands come to play so it’s the perfect place to enjoy some of the newest acts coming out of Tokyo. It is touted as a punk/hardcore bar with brick walls and a concrete floor perfect for dancing. And that is exactly what you’ll find. The music is loud and rockin’ and the atmosphere is fun and loose. Those inclined to somewhat harsh and abrasive music will feel right at home here, but those with more sensitive ears or tastes might want to take care before descending into the Pit Bar.
Along the walls there are shelves to keep your records safe and sound so you can get down and get with what this place is all about, which is rocking out. They have a small bar off to the left serving mostly Japanese beer and some typical spirits, but the main draw here is the music. There is no stage so bands set up right down on the floor in the back and everyone is right up front and part of the show. The atmosphere is super friendly and even if you go in solo the vibe of this place is such that you’ll have some instant friends to drink with and dance the night away. Check out the website to see the upcoming schedule but don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize any upcoming bands. Discovering new music is what this tour is all about and you might just find your new favorite local band at this place. Door prices vary, but you are likely to get your money’s worth on any given night here.

Price:

Usually ¥2,500 in advance or ¥3,000 at door
Address:
Chome-14-10 Nishiogi-minami, Suginami City, Tokyo (Basement)
Distance from Station:
1 minute from JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station, South Exit
Phone:
03-6671-4413 (Japanese only)
Open:
(varies per show)
Website:
https://ameblo.jp/pitbar/ (external link)
Communication:
Staff speak Japanese and limited English.
  • no-credit-card

El Quixico

(cozy Mexican restaurant)
All of these places are in pretty close proximity to one another, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t worked up an appetite. There are a number of really great places to indulge yourself in and around the area, but one stands out above the rest. Good Mexican food is few and far between in Tokyo. El Quixico is one place you will not want to pass up on this tour of Nish-Ogikubo. It is a little out of the way from the main thoroughfare, but it’s hard to miss the Day-of-the-Dead style skull sporting a sombrero on the bright pink sign. This is but a mere taste of colors and style within. It is a small second floor restaurant with about 28 seats, but as often as I have been there I have never seen it empty. There are usually some tables or bar seating available, but a reservation could never hurt.
On the menu are a variety of traditional Mexican dishes, all the typical fare, fresh and delicious. They also have some Mexican beers and a small but well represented tequila menu. The owner is friendly and the menu is in English, so you should have no problem ordering. The good thing about being such a cozy place is that everyone is close and it draws an international crowd so you are likely to strike up a conversation with the next table over if you’re so inclined.

Price:

Food ¥420 - ¥2000 range
Address:
3 Chome-15-14 Nishiogi-minami, Suginami City, Tokyo (2nd Floor)
Distance from Station:
3 minutes from JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station, South Exit
Phone:
03-3332-7590 (Japanese only)
Open:
6:00pm – 12:00am midnight, Closed Mondays
Website:
https://www.el-quixico1991.jp/ (external link)
  • no-smoking
  • no-credit-card

Follow Up

This tour takes you through a lesser-known part of Nishi-Ogikubo and gets right to the heart of the music scene. Suginami has a lot to offer and Nishiogi is a great place to dive into the area to experience it like a local. Tokyo has many faces and this side of it is where you can really meet some friendly people, listen to some great music, and enjoy the lively atmosphere in the world of Tokyo’s underground music scene.

writer: Joel
photographer: I. Fukuyama
planner, photographer, illustrator: Greg