Toshio Takeuchi (above and below) said his store is a top outlet for enka music in Tsu, though his taste runs to classical.

In the central Japan city of Tsu, music has had a loving home for nearly a century.

Tani Music Shop has been at its present location near Tsu Station in Mie Prefecture since 1962, after moving from its original store, established before the war in Tsu’s historic Daimon district.

Owner Toshio Takeuchi has remained faithful to being a reliable outlet for various genres, especially enka and classical music. The shop carries CDs, some vinyl records and yes, an extensive selection of cassette tapes.

“There are many who still have cassette players in their cars, so those customers can find them here,” Takeuchi eplained.

Tani Music offers a wide selection of cassettes (above) and even a listening station for CDs (below right).

Among the personal touches Takeuchi maintains is a weekly list of the most popular enka titles, posted near the checkout counter, just below autographs of several enka stars. Enka remains hugely popular locally, mostly due to the enduring love of karaoke, he said.

The store also sells musical instruments and supplies, such as blank cassettes, recordable CDs and phonograph needles, and features a bygone staple of record shops: a listening station to sample the music before you buy.

Takeuchi believes Tani Music is the sole remaining retail CD outlet in Tsu, and said he still has a steady stream of customers, including some in their 90s. With the prevalence of digital downloads in this online era, he reported not many younger clients come through the doors.

“I don’t know much about downloads, but that’s how young people seem to be getting music, so they don’t come in often,” he said.

Several singers have visited and left their autographs. At right is a list of the op-selling enka titles of the week.

Though enka is the bread and butter of his store, Takeuchi’s first love is classical, and Tani Music offers a refined selection. He is longtime fan of German composer and conductor Vilhelm Furtwangler, often cited as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century.

Visitors are greeted with posters of some of the featured artists.

Story and photos by MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo

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