Inaka Lifestyle

Best retro Japanese city pop albums on vinyl

Japanese City-Pop Vinyl Gift Recommendations

Table of Contents

The Japanese City-Pop Record I’m Sending to My Step-Dad for Christmas… Drum-Roll, Please!

Marty: don’t peak. You aren’t allowed to read this article.

So my step-dad has an epic vinyl collection but it is completely void of any classic vintage Japanese city-pop. What a shame! Retro Japanese music is so good! We need to resolve this.

Runner-Up City-Pop Album Recommendations

#5 Miki Matsubara: Who Are You?, 1980

The song, Jazzy Night, is delightfully nostalgic with the perfect amount of melodramatic in Japanese city-pop style. The songs are reminiscent of the Carpenters or Abba, so I think it will be easy for Mom to enjoy it, too.

#4 Haruomi Hosono: Philharmony, 1978

Hosono is an icon. It feels like a responsibility that any true music lover knows about him and gets to know his work. As a member of Yellow Magic Orchestra, and also having released a number of solo albums, he is one of the most influential musicians in the history of Japanese pop.

This album features the catchy and up-beat スポーツマン (Sportsman), which has over 5 million listens on Spotify.

#3 Mariya Takeuchi: Plastic Love, 1985

The song that single-handedly made city-pop trend again. Effervescent, retro J-pop. ✓✓✓

#2 DJ NOTOYO Presents Tokyo Glow

This record set is pure vibes. It makes me want to host a moody party with low light, cigarettes and good whiskey. I especially love the optimistic sax-goodness song, Ojosan Oteyawarakani, by Kiyohiko Ozaki, which has the most perfectly retro Japan vocals: clean, but you know he could pull off a traditional folk ondo song at a moment’s notice.

Marty won’t be getting this record but I might.

My Top Japanese City Pop Vinyl Recommendation
(The Final Choice)

#1 Various: Pacific Breeze City Pop, 1975-1985

This sampler maintains a cool, up-beat tempo and covers a well-curated variety of city-pop icons. It’s a good introduction to retro Japanese music and will offer many music rabbit-holes to pursue, as the songs range from the easy-listening feel of Lady Pink Panther by Shigeru Suzuki to the bright, feminine vocals of Tomoko Soryo in I SAY WHO.

Plus, it includes my #1 favorite city-pop song of all-time: Say Goodbye by Hiroshi Sato.

Happy Holidays, y’all! Don’t tell Marty what I got him for Christmas 🤣 ~B

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