When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.


Even In Techno-Charged Japan, Vinyl Makes Comeback

At a record store in Tokyo
At a record store in Tokyo
Hiraku Iwasaki

TOKYO — The large speakers at Quattro Labo, a music bar near Kichijoji Station in western Tokyo, mostly play U.S. rock music from the 1960s and 1970s: Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, the Allman Brothers Band. Not only that, but the sound has a depth to it — along with the distinct scratch-and-pop effect — that makes it clear it's being played not on a computer or CD player, but on an old-fashioned record player.

The music cafe and dining bar, which celebrated its first anniversary on Nov. 1, was launched by Parco Co., a major operator of fashion retail businesses. The idea was to provide people with a space to enjoy music in a relaxed way.

Nearby, the HMV Record Shop, which opened in August last year in Tokyo, has some 80,000 records available, along with a record player priced at 9,980 yen, or about $80. On Nov. 3 — designated records day by the Recording Industry Association of Japan — the shop held a seminar for vinyl beginners on how to use a turntable, and how to appreciate the vinyl experience.

[rebelmouse-image 27089666 alt="""" original_size="1024x683" expand=1]

In Tokyo — Photo: Christian H.

This may be the heyday of digital music, in Japan as much as anywhere else, but at the same time, vinyl records are making a slow but steady comeback as people rediscover the warmth of the sound the analog format contains.

"The sounds of vinyl are filled with realism, and the large covers are very artistic, like paintings," says a 37-year-old woman and HMV Record Shop customer from Gyoda, Saitama Prefecture.

Vinyl records peaked in the late 1970s, when nearly 200 million were manufactured annually in Japan. Their output sharply declined after the advent of CDs, however, which first came out in 1982 and became the primary way of listening to music. Vinyl records were handed a further blow when Apple Inc. began its online music-distribution services.

A turning (back) point came in 2012, when the Beatles albums were reissued on vinyl records. The beauty of their sound captured people's attention once again, which led to more great jazz and rock records being reissued in the format.

[rebelmouse-image 27089667 alt="""" original_size="1024x769" expand=1]

Beatles vinyls in a Tokyo store — Photo: choo chin nian

This year, popular Japanese artists such as singer-songwriter Masaharu Fukuyama and idol girl group AKB48 released new songs on vinyl records, and the production quantity of vinyls recovered to more than 470,000 by the end of September, already surpassing last year's annual figure.

Business is busy trying to catch up with the trend. At Nagaoka Co. in Higashine, Yamagata Prefecture, which manufactures vinyl record needles, monthly output had been hovering below 100,000. Since last year, however, it has recovered to almost 200,000.

Although this is still far below the 1.2 million units of the company's heyday in the early 1980s, Masahiro Suzuki, president of the company, is positive. "The demand is constantly rising," he says. "So we increased the amount of equipment as well as the number of employees."

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


What's Spoiling The Kids: The Big Tech v. Bad Parenting Debate

Without an extended family network, modern parents have sought to raise happy kids in a "hostile" world. It's a tall order, when youngsters absorb the fears (and devices) around them like a sponge.

Image of a kid wearing a blue striped sweater, using an ipad.

Children exposed to technology at a very young age are prominent today.

Julián de Zubiría Samper


BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country's high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. In other words, almost half of the country's young people are living in despair and a fifth of them have thought about killing themselves.

Such chilling figures are unprecedented in history. Many have suggested that this might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly, we can see depression has deeper causes, and the pandemic merely illustrated its complexity.

I have written before on possible links between severe depression and the time young people spend on social media. But this is just one aspect of the problem. Today, young people suffer frequent and intense emotional crises, and not just for all the hours spent staring at a screen. Another, possibly more important cause may lie in changes to the family composition and authority patterns at home.

Firstly: Families today have fewer members, who communicate less among themselves.

Young people marry at a later age, have fewer children and many opt for personal projects and pets instead of having children. Families are more diverse and flexible. In many countries, the number of children per woman is close to or less than one (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong among others).

In Colombia, women have on average 1.9 children, compared to 7.6 in 1970. Worldwide, women aged 15 to 49 years have on average 2.4 children, or half the average figure for 1970. The changes are much more pronounced in cities and among middle and upper-income groups.

Of further concern today is the decline in communication time at home, notably between parents and children. This is difficult to quantify, but reasons may include fewer household members, pervasive use of screens, mothers going to work, microwave ovens that have eliminated family cooking and meals and, thanks to new technologies, an increase in time spent on work, even at home. Our society is addicted to work and devotes little time to minors.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest