For the 47th edition, we accompany Izumi “Dub Master X” Miyazaki on one of his vinyl hunting tours. Miyazaki boasts a long career as a sound engineer and DJ, and remains a stalwart supporter of Japan’s music scene. He started off as a mixer at the legendary Jazz club Pithecanthropus Erectus which originally opened in 1975 at the end of Bourbon Street in Kamata. From the From the 1980s onward Miyazaki DJ’d at clubs like Harajuku Monkberry’s one of the launching pads for HIP-HOP music in Japan and also was the master mind behind many musical mixes including Mute Beat, Japan’s first live Dub music band. For Miyazaki, vinyl has always been an important tool of the trade, besides it’s great sound vinyl provides him with an experience to discover new sounds due to the tactile process involved in shopping for vinyl.
We meet Miyazaki at Mezurashiya, a used record store in business since 1982 on a quiet backstreet five minutes by foot from Kokubunji Station. “I used to live in Kunitachi and came here often on my bicycle. I’ve even made a couple of trips here with my master, fellow DJ and musician, Yann Tomita.” The visit on this day is Miyazaki’s first in a while. He says hello to the staff member, Mr. Tamura, and starts digging through the cardboard boxes from side to side.
“I bought a lot of records in my youth. The DJs in those days spent most of what we earned on records. That may sound silly now, but without the Internet, we didn’t have much choice back then.” Naturally, Miyazaki has plenty of anecdotes to tell, too. “When you visit a store all the time, you make friends with the staff. At one store, they made a crate with my name on it and filled it with music that I like. Each week, I would check my crate and find something to buy. I spent tens of thousands of yen a week.” Miyazaki smiles as he searches skillfully through the records, scanning the choices before him now. Suddenly, his hands stop. “This one has my name written on the title, though I can’t remember doing the job. I’ll have to take it home and listen to it and hopefully the memory of my work on this album will come back to me.” He’s obviously lost count of all the different albums he has worked on over the years. “OK, I’ll buy it.” What a chance find—it requires luck to draw a winner. “When you buy online, you can only search for titles you know. But the joy of visiting a physical shop comes across in the many unexpected finds that can be made when flipping through records and looking at the credits and cover art. Another joy of exploring record shops is getting recommendations from the staff.
On this day, Miyazaki is wearing Lee’s carpenter jeans. “Roomy and durable work wear comes in handy because I squat down and stand up all the time digging up records from both low and high places while working.” Today Miyazaki completes his round of the store and has successfully dug up a few new treasures. As he purchases his new records including the best hit record of late ‘70s Japan super group SHOGUN, creators of the hit single “Otokotachi no Melody” He happily reminisces with the staff about his vinyl hunting trips to Mezurashiya over the years and is already looking forward to his next vinyl adventure.