Adventures in Jazz Collecting, Tokyo Style

Japan copy

















One of our readers living in Japan recently sent a note with a story to share so I said, please, write it up. He did and here it is:

By Stuart Levine

I am a regular reader (living in Japan), who especially enjoys Al’s record-collecting adventures. Well I have one of my own to share with the Jazz Collector community. It all started last September in Tokyo. I had heard of Disk Union and wanted to see it for myself. Perhaps, I could score on a nice LP.   When I got off the train at my exit, I could immediately see it to my left – an impressive brick building with a large Disk Union window sign. The only problem was this was not the store noted for its jazz inventory. The real deal, Disk Union “Jazz Tokyo” was about six blocks away. Had it not been for a fellow Southern Californian (wearing a Dodgers cap) walking me over to the right store, I would have come away from this experience very disappointed. My good fortune really started when I was introduced to the head buyer of used jazz vinyl, a soft-spoken gentleman named Katsu. He invited me to come back three months later on Dec. 19th when the store was having a big Blue Note record sale, to the tune of 500 original mono and stereo LPs.

I got back to Tokyo the day before the sale, spent a night in a hotel and was #2 in line outside the store the next morning (the line had started forming at 5:00 a.m.). It was first come, first served. I asked the guy in front of me what record(s) he was looking for. He said, “J.R. Monterose, Blue Note 1536 and Horace Parlan’s “Us Three.” Luckily, he was not after True Blue. But I sure was, and Jazz Tokyo had a nice VG++/VG++ copy. That’s when the fun began. I raced over to the wall where 4041 was placed, only to feel hands across my back and shoulder. Were these normally well- mannered Japanese climbing over my body in an attempt to steal True Blue from my rightful grasp? To make a long story short, I took possession of True Blue, paid $1,600 (200,000 yen).

For more on the Blue Note sale, follow this link. There, you’ll see the images of all those records and by scrolling down, more details on each one.


  • First of all, congratulations Stuart. The collector comes in various flavors. There are those who collect because they feel that they are making a good investment with the promise of seeing the value of the item go steadily up in time. This sort of collecting does not, as a rule speak to the emotional and personal value of the item to the collector. It’s just business. Then there are those on the other end of the scale that collect because they truly love the object and what it represents. In this case the artistry and seminal performance of the musician. They are transported by the music to places long gone in time. You can hear the crowd in the club and almost smell the alcohol and the cigarette smoke and wafting through it all the music. I like to think Stuart is of the second kind of collector. I think most of us who love jazz qualify in the second group also.

    The question of how much one is willing to pay well that really depends on ones need to have something and the funds available. In this case love and the wallet both agreed and a wonderful peace of jazz got a new home. Well done Stuart. Hopefully you will gain much enjoyment from the performance. Just be sure you have a turntable and cartridge combination that will be kind to the vinyl and a preamp, amp and speakers up to the task. You know being a music lover can become a real production. In any case, good for you, Stuart.

  • Dimitri,

    What was the outcome of the Tampa collection mentioned in the thread?

  • I have lots of 1940/50s Japanese records that my grandfather brought back after the Second World War, does anyone know of a collector who may wish to buy them?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *