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Where you can find Good Music in Japan

Unlikely but Perfect: Hot Dogs and Jazz at Shimokitazawa’s tonlist



In November 2022, “tonlist” opened in a corner of “Suzunari Yokocho” in Shimokitazawa. Although it’s a small cafe, its acoustics and music selection are well known for their authenticity.

For the fourth installment of the series “Where to Find Good Music,” music critic Mitsutaka Yanagura delves into what makes it so captivating.

Glowing Neon Hot Dog Lights at A Theatrical Alley

I came across this place on social media. I pinned it on Google Maps because of the nice atmosphere and, most importantly, the record selection. The fact that they serve hot dogs may have also caught my attention.

I liked the place immediately after my first visit and have returned many times. It is now my go-to stop in Shimokitazawa, and I have even taken my musician friends from overseas there. We usually go there after a stop at Disk Union or at some other place halfway through the day, so the convenience of coffee and hot dogs is just right.

tonlist” is located in “Suzunari Yokocho,” which is attached to “The Suzunari,” a small theater with the longest history in Shimokitazawa, a theater town.

tonlist is located just inside Suzunari Yokocho, which can be seen from the entrance of Disk Union. Suzunari Yokocho is an extremely austere space with an underground/subculture feel, but the cozy cafe that suddenly appears at the side of the entrance is so bright and refreshing that it feels strange.

According to the owner, Yuya Uno, this space was originally the office of a theater, and after the office moved out, it was used as a warehouse. When he was looking for a place to open a cafe, he heard about this space from an acquaintance who happened to be involved with The Suzunari, and decided to rent it. When he explained that the space was not originally a cafe, so he had to build it from scratch, not just zero, but minus, to its current state, I was convinced of its special location and interior design.

Except for the structural part, almost all of the renovations were done by Mr. Uno as a DIY project.
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NiEW Best Music is a playlist featuring artists leading the music scene and offering alternative styles in our rapidly evolving society. Hailing from Tokyo, the NiEW editorial team proudly curates outstanding music that transcends size, genre, and nationality.