In the city of Tsu, in central Japan, music has found its place for nearly a century.
Tani Music Shop has been in its current location near Tsu Station in Mie Prefecture since 1962, having moved from its original store, established before the war in Tsu’s historic Daimon district.
Owner Toshio Takeuchi has remained loyal to being a reliable outlet for various genres, especially enka and classical music. The shop offers CDs, vinyl records and, yes, a huge selection of cassettes.
“There are many who still have cassette players in their cars, so those customers can find them here,” Takeuchi explained.
Among the personal touches Takeuchi maintains is a weekly list of the most popular enka titles, displayed near the cash register, just below the autographs of several enka stars. Enka remains extremely popular locally, mainly due to the enduring love of karaoke, he said.
The store also sells musical instruments and supplies, such as blank tapes, recordable CDs and phonograph needles, and offers a record store staple: a listening station for listening to music before you buy it.
Takeuchi believes Tani Music is the only remaining CD retail outlet in Tsu, and said he still has a steady stream of customers, some of them in the 90s. With the prevalence of digital downloads in this era in line, he reported that few young customers came through the doors.
“I don’t know much about downloads, but that’s how young people seem to get music, so they don’t come often,” he said.
Although enka is the bread and butter of his shop, Takeuchi’s first love is the classic, and Tani Music offers a fine selection. He is a longtime fan of German composer and conductor Vilhelm Furtwangler, often cited as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century.
Story and photos by MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo