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Where you can find Good Music in Japan

Tokyo’s “New Classic”: Shibuya’s Bar Music Sets the Standard for Music Bars

2023.12.14

#MUSIC

Bar Music was established in 2010 by Tomoaki Nakamura, the former manager of Café Après-midi, a key figure in the café boom of the 2000s, and renowned for a highly successful compilation CD series featuring background music.

Music critic Mitsutaka Yagira highlights Bar Music as a trailblazer in the contemporary genre-less listening/music bar scene. Nakamura’s influential music curation and venue design have left a lasting impact on numerous other bars.

Accompanied by Yagira, we explore one of Tokyo’s prominent “new old establishments.” This marks the fifth installment in the series, “Places to Meet Good Music.”

Documented in a publication, the image of the owner, Tomoaki Nakamura

The other day, I came across a small booklet titled “A Landscape with Music” published in 2006. In it was written about Tomoaki Nakamura, the owner of Bar Music, which was later born in Shibuya.

I requested a cup of coffee, prompting the bartender to initiate the brewing process. The nuanced flavor of the freshly roasted coffee, meticulously prepared one cup at a time, communicated silently with just a sip, revealing that the proprietor of this establishment was an essentialist with a truly authentic palate, unwilling to compromise. The bartender, transitioning swiftly from pouring coffee, hastened to the adjacent DJ booth. With practiced precision, he selected a record from the wall, placed it on the turntable, and seamlessly connected it to one ear while holding a pair of headphones to the other. Subtly dimming the store’s brightness, he delicately adjusted the lighting controls. This process unfolded quietly and inconspicuously, escaping the notice of onlookers. Observing his meticulous work, I found myself captivated and could watch him with such care for an extended period without losing interest.

This text may sound like it is written about Bar Music, but it was written by Takushi Nomura, producer of the cable broadcasting program “usen for Café Après-midi,” about his impression of Café Après-midi when he visited there for the first time in the fall of 2000. This bartender was Mr. Nakamura at that time.

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