The Unique Musical World That “Tobira Records” Has Shown Us


photo: Hiroshi Nakamura
translation: Maya-Aska
edit: Yu Kokubu
2021年 4月 初出(日本語版)

September 2020 in the city of Kasai (Hyōgo prefecture), a new music spot “Tobira Records” was born. The shop owner is ambient music composer Hakobune, also known as Takahiro Yorifuji. The shop’s uniqueness is already apparent by looking at its opening hours: a record shop that opens at 8 o’clock in the morning! We discussed the beginning of “Tobira Records” and the visually unique works that can be found in the shop.

Handmade flute, poster and cassette box by a Norwegian New Age flute player (the design of the flute is different for each box)

__”Tobira Records” has numerous visually unique works that are all very fun! (The cassette box above looks like it’s a flute set!) We don’t often see physical music as such and it seems like the target audience is quite narrow. Please tell us more about your shop’s ethos!

Takahiro Yorifuji (Yorifuji) – I don’t consume Japanese music media at all so it might be different from what we see every day. I do think it’s narrow in that sense. However, the music is chosen by myself and the genres extend from experimental music to hip-Hop, techno, house, jazz, R&B, and pop, so I do consider it broad for the diversity of genres. Music cannot be seen with the eye, but with the help of records, cassettes, CDs, and other physical formats, it stays imprinted in our memory. For people who use streaming, please listen to your favorite music through a physical copy – your ears would love it. I would also recommend to DJs to try the technique of “ripping” cassettes onto their PC It’s a little less convenient than using digital files, but the sound output is dramatically different.

__What led you to open the shop?

Yorifuji –  I wanted to show a side of music that cannot be transmitted by subscription-based streaming, but my main priority was to forge connections with music-loving people. I also wanted to provide undiscovered music from at home and abroad. The labels I often work with or the labels I purchase music from only release a small number of copies for each work. They are not distributed in most Japanese record shops, which obliges me to buy internationally. The delivery takes time and it is pricy, so I wanted to have a “record shop that sells niche works with a reasonable price point”. I’m also accepting requests to stock items, so please feel free to contact me.

Unique pieces from Russia

From Belgium

__How diverse are your products?

Yorifuji – Our stock comes from many labels around the world. There are quite a handful of works from Japan. Some from “Haang Niap Records” supervised by Shizuo Uchida, who performed at our in-store event in March. and others from musicians that I have met through my career. We also provide rare works from well-known composers such as Akio Suzuki’s DVD. Pre-owned works are also available in-store.

Latest cassette tapes from 20 labels across the globe, spread across the store’s table
Monthly in-store events are also being held.

__Besides In-Store Events, You Also Organise Unique Experiences Such As Playing Ambient Music Outdoors In The Freezing Cold. How Is “Tobira Records” Going To Evolve?

Yorifuji –  As well as selling unique music, we also want to provide unique auditory experiences. By throwing monthly in-store events, we want to build a local music scene. We’ve also been planning an outdoor event at a local quarry and were thinking of launching a new label this summer. Recently, a city official has requested us to design gifts for hometown tax payments.

__At A quarry? That is incredible. What is a unique piece that you have encountered? We would like to know Which Ones Have Surprised you.

Yorifuji – In 2008, I discovered the American cassette tape trend and was amazed by it. I was a student back then, working at the record store “Meditations” in Kyoto, seeing how quality cassette labels (especially RollOver Rover, Stunned Digitalis) were born one after the other in the United States. I do think cassettes are a thing at the moment, but around 2008 was definitely the first cassette craze.

__Conversing With You, I Do Feel Like There Is A Gap Between The “Musician Yorifuji” And “Shop Owner Yorifuji”. Are you conscious of Maintaining Uniqueness Or Humour?

Yorifuji – The work I compose is categorised as ambient, so people get the impression that I am quiet. But in reality, I love to talk, and I get told that I’m different from what they envisioned. I think it’s the Kansai (western part of Japan) DNA. I think people from Kansai can relate to unsaid rules such as “Stories without a punchline are forbidden” or “if someone becomes the funny man (Boke in Japanese comedy), be a straight man (Tsukkomi)” from my primary school years. I have been trained at conversation, playing the funny man according to certain situations.

__Thank you so much for everything! One last question, what is “being unique” to you?

Yorifuji – I think it is being yourself. I primarily compose ambient music, but I used to frequent a lot of clubs in Tokyo and I have always wanted to listen to all kinds of music. Nowadays, I snowboard once a week. I think the desire to build a music scene from scratch is also a sign of uniqueness, and creating something from zero will always end up being unique. Tobira is probably the only record shop in the world that opens at 8 in the morning.

Takahiro Yorifuji preparing for the shop opening. (Slight appearance of bed hair.⤴︎)


The Unique Musical World That “Tobira Records” Has Shown Us

Tobira Records

Opened in September 2020, Tobira Records aims to be “a doorway to new sonic experiences”. The web- shop offers new releases while the physical store displays a range of pre-owned music. Tobira Records also works as the host of POPEYE Web’s radio show, “TOWN TALK RADIO”. ◎Hyōgo Prefecture, Kasai City, Hōjō Town, Hōjō 142-9 2F