Monday, September 16, 2013

Tokyo's Shinjuku: HMV

I have visited only a handful of locations of music chain store HMV, but the best one was during my stop in Tokyo's Shinjuku area.  This HMV is located on level 6 of the mall Lumine Est, a multistory mall with a basement entrance connected directly at Shinjuku Station's east exit.  While this branch may look small, it has an immense collection of Kpop, from new releases to albums from a few years' back.
At the front of the store is a display of the weekly charts, with one row dedicated to Kpop albums.  If you're just browsing, this is a great place to start to get an idea of the week's most popular music.
In the middle of the store there was a cart of Korean and Japanese magazines featuring Korean singers and actors such as Infinite, Song Joong Ki and Lee Jong Suk.  There were even a few copies of the latest K-Boy Paradise issue, which was released the day before.
In front of the magazine display was an island of the newest Korean Jpop releases.  One side had all three versions of IU's Monday Afternoon single, as well as SNSD's latest Jpop single and Kara's and f(x)'s Kpop albums.  The next section includes the latest from Korean boy bands, such as SHINee and Exo.  In store there are also three electronic kiosks for you to search for specific items and their availability.  Each kiosk also had a set of headphones, so I think you can sample CDs, but I couldn't figure it out.  You can get a glimpse of the kiosk on the right.
The backside of this display has more new Kpop and Korean Jpop releases.  The left has CNBlue's latest Japanese single, along with other CNBlue goods, We Got Married OST, and more.  The right has G-Dragon's and Seungri's latest albums, along with the latest Kpop albums from BTS, BtoB and B.A.P. Provided are headphones to check out these hits (I suppose...I didn't actually test them out).
In the back corner is where majority of the Kpop and Korean Jpop goods are held, and though small, it's well packed and very diverse.  There are popular groups, such as Infinite, Exo, f(x), T-ara, etc., along with more obscure groups like AA, as well as groups from the past like Ss501 and I believe I also saw an Tony An or H.O.T. album.  Majority of the shelves are organized alphabetically for Kpop groups, then the last two shelves are of OSTs and compilation albums.  While the entire discographies of these groups aren't all in stock, there is still a large selection and I'd be surprised if anyone left empty handed at this store! is a very handy website to check out before visiting an HMV in Japan.  You can check a specific item and see which Japanese locations have that item in stock, low stock or not in stock; the inventory gets updated every hour.  You can also reserve a copy at a particular store if you create an HMV account and have a Japanese home address.  The three items I desperately wanted were all listed as 'low stock' at the Lumine Est location, and about 24 hours after I purchased these, they were listed as out of stock.  If you see an item listed as 'low stock,' I suggest reserving a copy if you can and picking it up quickly!
I bought Infinite's Ranking King, Infinite's limited full album, Shut Up Flower Boy Band OST and BtoB's Thriller mini album.  The latter two came in a clear plastic wrap with a reusable sticky seal, which was nice.
Also there was a promotional sticker on a few of these albums, which I'm guessing is saying if you buy 2 marked CDs, DVDs or Blurays, then you'll get $1000 Yen off.  Also at the register, a few of my items rung up a few US dollars cheaper than the marked price.  My merchandise was already selling at the listed price, but having these secret discounts added to my amazing experience here.

Overall, I absolutely love Japan's HMV and the inventory system and would love to shop here again someday!

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