Skip to main content
Where you can find Good Music in Japan

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



A Locale Resembling the Archetype of a Music Bar

Over the past 24 years, Nakamura has influenced cafes and music bars all over Japan, including his 13 years at Bar Music and his time as a staff member at Café Après-midi. It is neither as lively as a club nor as quiet as a bar. It is not a genre or a time period. He carefully connects one side of each record to the other while creating a DJ-like flow, selecting records from various genres and regions to match the atmosphere of the bar and its guests at any given time. This way of creating and balancing in-store music is now referenced throughout Japan.

I see Bar Music as a prototype for Japanese music bars in the 21st century, a place that has refined and specialized what was once done at Café Après-midi during nighttime hours. Simultaneously, it showcases Nakamura-san’s distinctive music selection. When friends from overseas express a desire to visit a bar with records playing, I introduce them to Bar Music with the same sentiment as taking them to renowned soba or unagi restaurants, saying, “This is Tokyo.” For me, Bar Music embodies the essence of Tokyo’s “new classics.”

I like “MUSICAÄNOSSA Oregon,” a compilation CD released in 2001, and I still listen to it with great care. It is a compilation of songs selected 22 years ago, but it is not old at all, but already has the feel of bar music. The unwavering nature of Tomoaki Nakamura’s music is clearly recorded here.

MUSICAÄNOSSA Oregon” is a compilation of songs by the band Oregon, which includes Ralph Tauner. Oregon has been reevaluated in recent years in the midst of the new age revival, and Nakamura-san presented a new way of listening to them in 2001.

Bar Music’s Top Five

(From left to right).

Slawek Jaskulke “Musicaänossa Slawek Jaskulke”
James Blake “Covers”
Jaubi “The Deconstructed Ego”
Duval Timothy “Meeting with a Judas Tree”
Bibio “Ribbons”


Bar Music
Address: 1-6-7-5F Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Business hours: 18:00 – midnight
Closed: Unscheduled holidays

Back to series



NiEW recommends alternative music🆕

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.