I just returned from my trip to Kyoto, Japan last week. While I was in Kyoto, I spent a considerable amount of time haunting a variety of used and new CD shops (mostly used). When I live there, I plan on spending as much time as possible on that heavenly threshold!
I have never experienced such joy as in a Japanese used CD store. Japanese CD stores in general are a beautiful thing– it almost hurts to walk inside them, like you’ve finally seen the light. Then you walk over to the Visual Kei section and you want to fall down on your knees, clawing at your ruined vision screaming “I’m not ready for this!” And, fingers trembling, as you pull the Alice Nine album from the packed-to-bursting precious shelves of treasures you pinch yourself, expecting to jolt awake in some dark, cold place where you can’t even acquire Jrock by any illegal and reckless measures (trust me, it wouldn’t stop me)… But then you don’t wake up. It hurts, and you give a little yelp and the gorgeous young man at the counter (who’s probably actually 45, married, with kids and still looking better than anything you’d find in a Calvin Klein magazine) gives you a look. He wouldn’t understand. It’s like telling the man with the keys to the oasis that water is delicious. He would never understand your deprevation– the thirst you live with.
There’s something masochistically delicious about standing there at the front of the store where you’re gazing at a display of Utada Hikaru and Hyde– a whole display! Names CD shop clerks in the US wouldn’t know if you paid them. Right there for the world to see. Posters plastered on the wall exclaiming new releases of all the bands whose CDs I’ve bought. The free flyers by the door are giveaway posters of B’z upcoming tours–something I would covet, something I would pay good money for!–. You walk in and hear the wail of Hokuto no Ken’s YOU WA SHOKKU! (Masaaki Endou, Ai wo Torimodose as used in the anime Hokuto no Ken).
I stop. I look up at the fluorescent lights on the ceiling and for a moment, I wonder “so bright..is this the afterlife?”
I just walked into a store where they were playing a song I have on my iPod. In all honesty, that has never happened to me in my entire life.
See, I live in a world that doesn’t listen to my music. That’s the way I look at it. This nation just won’t accept my music and I just won’t accept this nation’s! The CD store is not my ally– it’s that dark place where I lurk in the “world music” section with bleak, make-believe hope as my fellows devour the new releases and throw all the titles I don’t know under my nose. “Wrong country of origin,” is often my response to “have you heard….?” I live in a world where I suggest “Buck-Tick” and someone says “Bless you!” Well thanks!
So although I can’t start a CD import business to make our lives so much easier on this side of the globe… I’m going to do my best to bring as much Jrock to the greater void as possible!
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