SACRED PLACE OF THE MUSIC Shinjuku Kabukicho

In the 1970's-80's, rock, disco, and GS (Group Sounds) music flourished in Kabukicho, the home of the Shinjuku Koma Theatre, known as the sanctuary of enka (Japanese traditional music).
In 2008 after 52 years of operation, the Koma Theatre closed down, and in 2015 the Shinjuku Toho Building was raised in its place. Whilst the theatre is remembered fondly, there are still many live houses invigorating the music culture. In 2014, "CONNECT Kabukicho Music Festival", Kabukicho's first ever block party was held, which featured EDM and rock music, and as such, Kabukicho has always been at the forefront of music culture. Here is an interview with Yu Hirano, manager and representitive of the "Loft" live house in Kabukicho.

The town where enka, jazz, and GS coexist.
In the 60's, Shinjuku (especially Kabukicho) was the holy grail of jazz culture. Students could scarcely afford record players, or the import of records costing around 2,000 yen (30,000 yen was the average college graduate wage at the time). A recorder was too expensive, and Walkmans didn't exist back then, so we would always go to jazz cafes searching for good music, and legendary records. Around the area, there were a lot of Utagoe cafes (cafes in which customers would sing together), and long standing jazz cafes, like "Mokuba" and "Pony". There, young people would with only a cup of coffee for hours on end, waiting for a song they requested. At these cafes talking was prohibited, so people would just read novels whilst listening to the music coming from the big speakers. In addition to jazz, the Koma Theatre (the sanctuary of enka), would hold concert shows by Saburo Kitajima, Ikuzo Yoshi, and many other artists, and old classic places like "ACB", and "La Scene" would have Tigers, and Drifters live performances everyday.

The Youth, and Rock.
A new wave of music started in the 50's, "rock". This new era of music then took off with the debut of The Beatles in the 60's. Back then, The Beatles were called conveyers of culture, and were tremendously popular. So much so, that these days they even appear in Japanese textbooks. GS, which is heavily influenced by The Beatles created a shockwave throughout Japan. Unfortunately Japan was not yet used to rock bands, and anyone holding a guitar was percieved as a hooligan. By the beginning of the 70's people started accepting rock culture, and so the golden age of rock music and youths began. Young people who loved staying out at night would do so at rock DJ bars, such as "Rolling Stones", or "Yellow Submarine". After the booms of a few live houses, "Shinjuku RUIDO" (established in 1972), and "Shinjuku Loft" (established on the west side of Shinjuku in 1976, later moving to Kabukicho in 1995) appeared, and lead the way for the band boom of the 90's. GS aside, the 1970's-80's was Shinjuku's golden age of disco. "Apple House", "New York, New York", and many other discos were the hangout spots for the younger generations.

The 1970-80's was the golden age of disco for Kabukicho.
The young would dance all night in "New York, New York".
(Photo: GAGA HUMAX Inc.)

Kabukicho. Changing with the times.
As the east's largest entertainment district, Kabukicho is an enigmatic district, the city that never sleeps.
Thousands of restaurants, video game arcades, movie theatres, live houses, and many other facilities line the streets hundreds of metres in every direction, Kabukicho is known for being a "nightless city". Back in the day, brothels could be found right next to jazz or disco cafes, and restaurants right next to clothing shops for hostesses. This was not at all out of place at the time, but around 2000 many of the brothels were exposed, and their numbers dropped. Kabukicho has slowly been changing over the years from what it once was. In late 2014, the cinema complex at the time with the largest screen in Japan, the Shinjuku Milanoza, closed down. However, Toho Cinemas Shinjuku was estanblished on the site of the former Koma Theatre, and now stands as the biggest cinema complex in Japan. In preparation for the 2020 Olympics, a new era of Kabukicho seems to be coming to frutition.


Shinjuku FACE
[TEL]03-3200-1300
[HP]http://shinjuku-face.com/
[ADDRESS]7F, 1-20-1 Kabukicho
An entertainment space for combative sports, music concerts, plays, and much more.

Shinjuku Live Space MARZ
[TEL]03-3202-8248
[HP]http://www.marz.jp/
[ADDRESS]2-45-1 Kabukicho [OPEN]14:00-22:00
We provide high quality sounds. The high ceiling constructed building gives a feeling of spaciousness. Our PA system and lighting also of note.

Shinjuku BLAZE
[TEL]03-5155-5990
[HP]http://shinjuku-face.com/
[ADDRESS]B2F, 1-21-7 Kabukicho
The holy land of pop idols in the very heart of Shinjuku, live house Shinjuku BLAZE.

Shinjuku RUIDO K4
[TEL]03-5292-5125
[HP]http://www.ruido.org/k4/
[ADDRESS]B2F, 1-2-13 Kabukicho [OPEN]13:00-22:00
We have substantial amount of equipment, such as digitized PA mixer board, mirror moving lighting, and LED bars.

Shinjuku Motion
[TEL]03-6825-5858
[HP]http://motion-web.jp/
[ADDRESS]5F, 2-45-2 Kabukicho [OPEN]18:00-23:30
Capacity of up to 120 people. A new place that brings you good music. Please stop by!

Live House Marble
[TEL]03-5272-3558
[HP]http://marble-web.jp/top.html
[ADDRESS]B1F, 2-45-2 Kabukicho [OPEN]14:00-22:00
A surrealist music, comedy shows, art. All kinds of expression.

Shinjuku LOFT
[TEL]03-5272-0382
[HP]http://www.loft-prj.co.jp/
[ADDRESS]B2F, 1-12-9 Kabukicho
A long-established live house that has watched over Shinjuku's rock music scene since 1976.

LOFT PLUS ONE
[TEL]03-3205-6864
[HP]http://www.loft-prj.co.jp/
[ADDRESS]B2F, 1-14-7 Kabukicho
Established as Japan's first talk-show live house in 1995.

Naked Loft
[TEL]03-3205-1556
[HP]http://www.loft-prj.co.jp/
[ADDRESS]1F, 1-5-1 Hyakunincho
An imaginative space with an expansive style cafe. Talk shows and live music shows are held every night.



 Yu Hirano
 The manager of the live house "Loft".
 Representative of the Loft Project Inc.


I'm the manager of the live house "Loft", born in Tokyo on the 10th August 1944, also known as the representative of the Loft Project Inc.. Shinjuku Loft's goal has been to create a space where rock fans from all generations can meet up and have a good time together. Our theme is "Rockin' Communication". At loft you can relax, grab a drink after the show, and have great opportunities to get to know other people. A place full of new chances for "communication". That's "Rockin' Communication Shinjuku Loft".



In addition to having a live floor (approx. capacity 500), Shinjuku Loft provides a pub-style space for waiting and relaxing (approx. capacity 100). Genre indifferent, free live performances, DJs, fashion shows, beautician competitions, and many more events are being held, providing a performance space for artists. Private parties are also possible. Anyone visiting to see a certain band can enjoy a pint after the gig, and experience fresh music with fresh faces. A place full of new chances for "communication". "Rockin' Communication Shinjuku Loft".