RECORD BAR analog: A Bar Born from Shibuya’s Record Culture

Shibuya was once home to over 200 record stores, earning the distinction of being recognized by the Guinness World Records as the town with the most record shops in the world. While digital DJing is now mainstream, during the early 2000s when analog DJs were still dominant, Shibuya was considered a ‘Mecca for record collectors’ attracting enthusiasts from around the world.

Located in the Shibuya Hyakkendana district, ‘RECORD BAR analog’ is a distinct locale that allows you to experience Shibuya’s unique record culture.

Retro-Futuristic with Snack Bar-Like Ambiance

Since its establishment in 2018, it has gained popularity among music enthusiasts and is now recognized worldwide by music lovers. The customer base is evenly divided between Japanese and foreigners, with weekends often seeing a waiting list due to its popularity.

The interior boasts a unified navy and copper design, complemented by soft ambient lighting that creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. The space is perfectly proportioned—not too spacious—with just the right level of sound and pleasantly dim lighting. Everything is ‘just right’ for the patrons with refined tastes.

While exuding the approachable charm of a snack bar, the space also features high-fashion wallpapers from brands like ETRO and GUCCI, along with Tom Dixon pendant lights, showcasing tasteful details throughout.

When questioned about the interior concept, owner Mr. Matsuzuru remarked, “It’s somewhat inspired by the Showa-era snack bars, with a hint of retro-futuristic ambiance. Even the speakers are from 1960s to 1970s America.”

Mr. Matsuzuru is also known for his role as the manager and director of SOUND MUSEUM VISION, Shibuya’s largest club, which unfortunately closed its doors in 2022. His decision to choose this Hyakkendana location for the new venture was undoubtedly influenced by his deep understanding of Shibuya.

“I have many acquaintances here, and it’s easy to draw people in. Plus, the Hyakkendana area has such a uniquely deep and interesting atmosphere. You don’t often find places with this kind of vibe.”

Hyakkendana has a distinctively ‘shady’ atmosphere which may stem from its history. Before the war, Shibuya’s Maruyama-cho area, extending from Dōgenzaka up to Shoto, was a geisha district, and it began to prosper as a shopping street adjacent to it. Even now, this neighborhood is famous as Shibuya’s love hotel district, with plenty of signs targeting adults. Over the past few years, stylish izakayas and restaurants have gradually opened up, making it a much more open place than before. However, as soon as you step inside, you can still feel the atmosphere and energy of that era.

Capturing the Essence of a Record Store

Inside analog, there are record racks where you can freely browse and pick up records. Once you’ve found a record you want to listen to, simply take it to the counter along with the can badge provided at your table to make a request. With a diverse selection spanning from hip-hop and R&B to city pop and nostalgic Japanese pop songs, each discovery sparks lively conversations among friends.

Sometimes, when another group requests their favorite song, I find myself curiously glancing around. When it’s my turn to make a request, I nervously consider if it fits into the flow and whether others will get into it. Selecting tracks and that anticipation is such a joy, but the real charm lies in being able to ‘dig’ through records, just like in a record shop. It’s said that the freedom to browse through the record racks in the store was intentional, with the aim to evoke that excitement of discovering hidden gems while digging through the vinyls.

Each person gets one can badge, allowing them to request one song. Initially, there was no limit, but the current system was introduced to ensure everyone could enjoy the experience equally.

“When people are limited to requesting just one song, they really put thought into their choice. The songs they select are often truly moving and resonate with others. It’s fascinating and heartwarming to see customers connect over their music choices.”

The records in the selection are handpicked by Mr. Matsuzuru, with input from the music-loving staff and based on popular requests. An artist list is available on Instagram highlights, so you can browse it at your leisure, either before visiting or once you’re seated.

Unwind and Enjoy Your Personal Favorites

The drink menu ranges from classic options to unique cocktails like the ‘Princess Highball,’ a mix of whiskey and soda with fresh cream, and the ‘Strawberry Milk,’ which features white chocolate liqueur and homemade strawberry compote.

Mr. Matsuzuru notes, “At a famous cocktail bar, you might feel obligated to order a signature drink, but here, people feel free to enjoy whatever they like. We often get requests for Japanese whiskies, like long-aged Yamazaki, especially from our international guests.”

The menu can be accessed via a QR code on the table, allowing you to order from your smartphone. It’s written in simple English and organized by drink base, making it easy to navigate.

A screenshot of the menu

From observations, analog always has at least one staff member available who can speak English, as they receive many visitors from overseas. This assurance makes it a popular choice, even for first-time visitors. Additionally, the system is very straightforward, allowing people to enjoy their night out with peace of mind, despite being located in a somewhat sketchy area.

On the night of my first visit to analog, I noticed a group of international guests at the neighboring table hitting it off. While Japanese people aren’t usually quick to strike up conversations with strangers, simply seeing others getting into a song I requested gives me a unique sense of satisfaction. It’s like the feeling of connecting with someone’s karaoke song at a snack bar, combined with the joy of browsing through records at a shop, making it a new yet nostalgic bar experience. As an option for nightlife, analog offers a refined music selection, delectable beverages, and a warm ambiance. I highly recommend stopping by at least once.

Time: 90 minutes per group
Cover charge: ¥900 per person, includes snacks
Order: Place orders via QR code
Requests: Exchange one can badge per person for song requests
Opening hours: (Mon-Thu) 20:00 – 3:00 (Fri-Sun) 19:00 – 3:00

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Orie Ishikawa

ZEROMILE lead editor. With a limitless curiosity about things such as history, literature, biology, culture, art, fashion, and more, Orie has spent most of her lifetime studying random knowledge. Her number one spot in Tokyo is the National Museum of Nature and Science.