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Drowning In Synthesizers – A Trip To Synth Heaven

October 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I first read about the existence of the Five G synthesizer shop quite some years ago – most likely through Matrixsynth. The article showed what was essentially a synthesizer museum masquerading as a shop.

Being a keen synth nerd, a visit to this synthesizer heaven was high on my list of places to visit since arriving in Tokyo and on Saturday an expedition was finally mounted. Actually that’s not entirely true as I had popped along on Thursday, only to find the place locked up – something worth bearing in mind if you’re thinking about visiting.

Finding the place was no problem – the closest station is Harajuku on the JR line. To get to the shop take the Takeshita exit out of Harajuku station, cross the road and head north up the hill. After about 25m you’ll see the Le Ponte building on the left. Five G is on the 4th floor.

The first thing you see as you enter the shop is a N.E.D. Synclavier. A few more steps into the shop and you come face to face with their monster modular system (they’re the Japanese dealers for Doepfer and Analogue Systems.) Note the Roland System 700 casually dumped on the floor in front of the Doepfer gear.

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A glance to the right gets you a look at the various drum machine/groovebox-type machines they have on offer. Not often you see 3 Roland TB303’s for sale in a shop.

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The rest of the shop is pretty much split into 2 ‘corridors’ of synths and a sectioned off repair area. I forgot to take photographs of the first corridor, but here’s some from the 2nd corridor. As you can see it’s pretty much floor to ceiling synths! I’m annoyed that I didn’t photograph the glass cabinet that contained 9 Roland System 100M’s.

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As always, I was in shy mode and didn’t introduce myself to any of the staff. The atmosphere was certainly friendly enough and I got the feeling that they were used to people wandering in for a gawp. I think the deal with all the synths stacked up on the floor is that they either aren’t for sale, are already reserved or awaiting repair.

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It’s funny as up until my visit to Five G I hadn’t ever seen a Prophet 5 in the flesh. This photo shows 4 of the buggers! And there were more scattered around the rest of the shop.

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5 Arp Odyssees! At this point I caught sight of the humble Roland SH101 (seen at the top left of this photo) and had to brush away a tear as I thought of my SH101, which I have left behind in the UK.

So, all in all, a fun and worthwhile trip. I think that I’ll go back again sometime as I don’t really feel I quite took it all in during the one visit. Lots of the gear was plugged in so it’d be fun to go back and play with some of stuff. In particular I’d like to fart around with the Doepfer system they have on display as I’ve had a ‘modular itch’ I’ve been waiting to scratch for some years now.

Amongst the analogue selection there weren’t really any bargains to be had and things were priced on the high side. I think the pricing was fair though, given that a) they’re a shop, which is never a cheap place to buy secondhand gear, b) everything was in tip-top condition and c) I’ve read that everything gets serviced before being put out for sale. That said, there were a few cheapie items amongst the digital synths, such as a DX7 for less than £100.

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Categories: Japan, Synthesizers

Drowning In Film

September 22, 2011 3 comments

Since moving to Tokyo a month ago, one of the photography related things I’ve been really pleased to see is the abundance of ‘high street’ shops where you can go in and select from a large range of film *off the shelf*! This is stark contrast to the UK where buying film would always involve putting together an online order and waiting days for the film to arrive.

Here’s a photo of the film refrigerator at Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku.

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Amazing! And the cool thing is that all the emulsions are stocked in all formats – 35mm, 120, 4 x 5, 8 x 10….

The only shadow-y cloud hanging over this film heaven is the recent announcement from Fuji about cuts they’re making in their film ranges. Whether or not the steady erosion of available film types will continue into the future remains to be seen over the next few years…

Categories: Japan, Photography