Japan, Start Here

A Scrapbook Soundtrack: The Spotify Playlist That Changed My Summer In Japan

” I saw new colours incomprehensible to my retina — euphoric atmospheres that could make even the most stringent of men weep…Japan was much more with a dynamic soundtrack following me around and unveiling the mysteries of even its deepest crevice.”

Day three of my July adventure in Japan. New to Tokyo, I was taken aback by the strange yet indulgent culture shock. Hailing from Toronto, I was used to the bustling city life, good food and being caged by surround sound traffic noises…only Tokyo was on a scale of its own. Sitting across my brother in a small Izakaya — slugging back Suntory beers and eating karage, it dawned on me.

“Something is missing…”

Based on my preconceived ideas of Japanese culture…something felt off. Haven’t been able to shake the feeling of vacancy, my brother and I walked the main streets of Shibuya, experienced scramble crossing and traversed through alleyways. We stumbled across the largest music store in all of Japan, Tower Records. At first glance, it seemed like every other multi-floored department store we had seen in the days prior — only filled with CD’s, records and other music paraphernalia. My brother scurried down one aisle towards a band he’d thought he recognized. I was ready to jet. As I waited for him, I came across a heavily used industrial CD player bolted to the wall — it was obvious these things intended to lure consumers into the newest hits.

“Why not?”

As I put the headphones on an clicked track one, I prepared for the unknown. A nameless J-pop track came on. I looked up from the player and was immediately more aware of my surroundings. I saw new colours unseeable to the core of my retina — euphoric atmospheres that could make even the most stringent of men weep. The vibe was different. And then it dawned on me, “It was like a movie without a soundtrack.”

TokyoPhoto by @thetorontoweeaboo on Instagram.

Wall by wall, I snapped photos of multiple album covers, most of which I had sampled for the hours we stayed at Tower Records. That night, hunched over in my hotel bed, I started to Frankenstein the bones of what would become the soundtrack scrapbook of my summer in Japan. Whether we were on the bullet train to a new city or taking a break in a coffee shop, I would pop a headphone in and play music. It changed everything. It brought on reflection, emotion, and meaning. Japan was much more to me with the local music culture following me around and unveiling the mysteries of Japan’s deepest crevice.

Thanks for listening and tell me what you think!

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