Why buy Japanese vinyl records?

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Why buy Japanese vinyl records?
Japanese vinyl releases are premium quality pressings, much sought after by audiophiles and collectors alike. Japanese pressings are synonymous with quality - the vinyl shines like no other vinyl - everything about their releases feels special. The sonic quality of Japanese pressings is considered to be among the best in the world and, in addition, they are beautifully presented, their covers usually printed on better quality heavy stock paper and often including a bonus lyric insert with dual language Japanese & English text. Nearly all Japanese LPs were issued with an ‘obi’ - literally translated this means ‘sash’ and is derived from the obi (sash) worn around the traditional kimono dress. This delicate paper strip, usually wrapped around the left side of the album cover, often contains marketing information and album content details, all printed in Japanese kanji and katakana script. Obi designs can be as varied as the LPs they adorn, and some series of obi designs can be as collectable as the artist’s albums they decorate. Obis make a unique, attractive addition to the overall package and are becoming increasingly rare, especially on LPs from the 1960s and 70s. Their delicate and disposable nature meant that very early obis were routinely discarded, so that now they can often be worth several times more than the record they accompany. Regardless of your musical taste, Japanese records make a stunning addition to any collection. Audibly and visually they present the collector with a feast of delights. Japanese records, complete with inserts and obi, are becoming rarer every day. Whatever the digital age throws at you there is still a valid opinion that says vinyl sounds best; with Japanese records you get top quality pressings, a tactile picture sleeve that looks stunning and you can sing along from the lyric insert. This is the real alternative to a download!

Japanese promo / sample pressings
As with most other countries, Japan produced promotional LPs in advance of the commercial release for marketing purposes. There are numerous different forms of promotional LP; these vary from plain white labels simply bearing a catalogue number to customized white labels similar in design to the finished label copy but without any of the colour or artwork - basically just a white label with black print. The most common forms of promotional LP are those that appear to be finished stock albums, but on closer inspection are designated promotional on the label. Whilst some actually state Promo or Sample in English, most of these simply display the Japanese Kanji character set equivalents - shown below...

見本品 or 見本盤

However, not all promotional LPs were issued with the obi - the LP was often distributed before the obi was produced - it is rarer to find a promo with an obi than it is without one, especially on first pressings. They are more common on promo copies of reissue albums as the timing is not quite so important as for a brand new release so there was more time to put the whole package together. The rarest Japanese promotional LPs are those designed with exclusive custom picture sleeves, often compilations of previously released tracks issued to the media as a reminder of back catalogue success prior to the launch of new material, or an impending Japanese tour. These retrospective LPs can be the crowning glory of any collection and they rarely come up for sale.


 
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