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Tower Records, while it lasts

“Daddy, what were you doing before the Internet?” Pangzi asked curiously. That’s my cue to take him to Tower Records.

“Heard of CD?” I started. “Think I spent my entire childhood listening to those.”

“I only know Christian Dior.”

“CD stands for compact disc,” I continued. “You put it into a player, out comes music.”

“Sounds cool. How many songs?”

“Usually 10 for an album. In EP you get three.”

“Elected president?” Pangzi wondered.

“Extended play, which is a misnomer if you ask me.”

“My Spotify playlist has hundreds of songs!” he said.

“Yeah, you’re lucky to be born in this Internet era. Last time we sample music one CD at a time at Tower Records.”

“Is that a shop?”

“Yeah, one that sells CD and other music related merchandise,” I explained. “There’s one in Tokyo that we’re going. For old times’ sake.”

“Tower Records is still around?” he asked incredulously.

“Apparently only in Japan. The shop in Shibuya is supposed to be the largest.”

“What happened to the rest?”

“Well, the Internet happened. Spotify happened. CD shops went bust. It’s a collector’s item now,” I said.

“How is Tower Records surviving in Japan?” Pangzi demanded. “It doesn’t make sense.”

“Beats me.”

“Let’s go check it out while we can,” he offered. For once I didn’t have to use any trick to get him to come along.

Tower Records is just 100m from the famous Shibuya crossing full of pedestrians. It’s not just alive, but very well visited.

Nine storeys!

“Hey, look!” I alerted Pangzi. “They still sell vinyls.”

“What’s this? So much larger than a CD.”

“Yeah, you need a turntable to play this.”

“What table?”


Tower Records didn’t disappoint. Something for every music lover. One floor dedicated to K-pop, ironically. Another for classical and jazz, just like how I remembered it.

“Daddy, why don’t you buy this Lisa Ono CD. Your favourite go-to genre.”

“Hmmm, let’s see…” I took out my phone, and searched Island Cafe on Spotify. It’s available.

Why should I pay?

Something tells me like all things good, this won’t be around forever.


We were here:




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