The call of analogue music is difficult to resist: its siren call convinced Taro Tsunoda, a senior manager at Amazon Japan, to leave a successful corporate career to open Waltz– a cassette paradise. Tsunoda had been collecting cassettes ever since reading Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture in 2004 and by Waltz’s opening in 2015, had amassed an impressive collection of 3,500+ vintage cassette tapes.
Located in Tokyo’s hip Nagameguro neighbourhood, Waltz boasts an entire wall of boom boxes (the sort that hip youth would heft atop a shoulder while blasting grooves on city streets), vinyl, VHS tapes, vintage lifestyle magazines, and both vintage cassettes and new releases from local bands. A listening station in the rear of the shop give customers a chance to preview cassettes before approaching the store counter.
Cassettes, the jewels of 1980s audio, summon nostalgic refrains from top hits of years gone by. In America, cassettes are popular amongst indie bands and record labels. In fact, the National Audio Co., America’s largest manufacturers of audio cassettes, reported that 2014 was its best year yet. In Japan, cassette tapes are popular in part because they are easy to use when practicing karaoke, and in part because of its high appeal to the elderly population. Tokyo is a bustling hub for analogue music and has greatly contributed to the revival of cassettes on a global scale. Stores like Waltz, with rows and rows of neatly stacked and organised cassettes, VHS tapes, and vinyl records, boost Tokyo’s status as and music epicenter.