Tips on hifi cafes in Tokyo and Kyoto

I’ll be spending 12 days in Japan in mid May with two siblings and their partners and my daughter. I gather hifi cafes are a “ thing” in Japan. They want to go to Disneyland and hedgehog cafes and temples. I just wanna chill with some tunes. We’re be 7 days in Tokyo and 2 in Kyoto. Any tips?

Use google translate on this site: 懐かしいアナログサウンドと珈琲の香り 音楽喫茶へようこそ - AFFLUENT-アフルエント | 人生をより豊かにする大人のためのハイエンドメディア

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You need to visit Music Bar Cave Shibuya in Tokyo - not far from the famous crossing and Tower Records in Tokyo. They use Macintosh amps, huge old Tannoy speakers and mix from TWO Linn LP12s!


I’m in Tokyo May 12-15 and Kyoto 19-21 with the same idea and motivation!
Suggestions on jazz/nightclubs too appreciated.

Westminster Royals! Great speakers.

I was unaware of the existence of such places when we had a holiday in Japan - but then we were rather busy, and in the few nights we had in Tokyo there were focused more on sushi and sake than Schubert and Sade.

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@TheKevster Thanks for the tip. That sounds perfect if you’ll forgive the pun.

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@feeling_zen Thanks so much. Look like there are a few I’d like to visit.

Well I finally made it to Japan and we really enjoyed our two hours in the Listening Bar-Cave in Shibuya.
Excellent cocktails and friendly staff.
The woman DJ played an eclectic selection of modern Jazz, James Brown, Joan Armatrading and 70’s funk. You could make requests pertaining to genre but not individual tracks to keep the flow going.
A very good recommendation so thanks very much. Off to Kyoto next.



I frequent a cafe here in Sapporo that has this really ancient McIntosh amp and an Altec Lansing power amp from 1953 and just about the oldest dedicated in-wall McIntosh speakers I have ever seen and a second set of vintage Klipsch. But they run it off a very cheap streamer.

But it is funny because even non hifi cafe’s seem to have this basic notion that the hifi needs to be proper here. I eat lunch 3 times a week in another cafe that just has a modest setup, tucked away, out of sight assumed to be no interest. Quad source into a Triode tube amp into KEF Q350 on brackets. No one pays any notice at all.


Visited the Technics cafe in Kyoto today. Very elegant space but the hifi despite having their flagship turntable with Audiotechnica MC cartridge struggled to sound good. Lots of hard surfaces and a cavernous space to fill. There was an older gentleman who asked me what I wanted to hear. Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis and Pharell all sounded fair to middling I am afraid. But lovely staff.


@IDAK - this is a very good photo book on kissa:


I can’t imagine anything sounding good in that environment.

One thing I have noticed though, in Japan, proper set up takes a (very distant) back seat to just having high end gear and a million tweaky snake oik gadgets. It’s like, the room and care of positioning are concepts that simply don’t exist.

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Looks like I’m stalking you

Agree on all counts. Thought mid range trumpet and vocals good but low end, high end and soundstage disappointing. Played some Casiopea (Japanese fusion) ; sounded like a transistor radio. Then ELP Pictures at an Exhibition which I think is poorly recorded and it sounded great. Go figure!


@TheKevster Thanks very much. Will look it up. Such a wonderful time in Japan the last 12 days. I shall be like Douglas MacArthur and return. Such polite people and great service everywhere to the extent they would follow you out of the posher shops and restaurants to bow to you. So I bowed back. Just lovely.


@Petersfi i am sorry I missed you. It would have been good to listen to some tunes and talk hifi stuff. Lovely system you have by the way, to put it mildly! Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay. We’re heading back to NZ today.

I assume that these hifi cafés are the inspiration for Spiritland near Kings Cross in London, a bar that I’ve heard about, but never (yet) visited.

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Thanks :slightly_smiling_face:. Safe trip home. Feelings mutual. We spent 7 hours this morning getting to Taketomi Island, but absolutely lovely here. A couple of days of pure chill before heading back to Tokyo via Osaka.

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Wow! I see you’re way down in Okinawa. Should be lovely and warm down there,

Yes. There was a lot of emphasis on the ¥8,000,000 cost of the system.
I would be great to try the speakers out in better circumstances. They were beautifully constructed with two rear ports as there was an inbuilt subwoofer. Fit and finish were impeccable.