Hole in the Wall: A Guide to Tokyo’s “Listening Bars” ~TROUBLE PEACH~

Joe Yokomizo


The district of music and drama: Shimokitazawa. In “Shimokita,” when you think of a music bar, it has to be TROUBLE PEACH.

An establishment with 45 years of history, it would not be an exaggeration to say that almost all musicians and actors who have spent a considerable amount of time in Shimokita have stepped foot into this historical and legendary establishment.

The owner of the bar is Katsuhiro Nakai, 61 years old. TROUBLE PEACH is located on the second floor of a tasteful old detached house near the famous Suzunari theater in Shimokitazawa, while the rock bar EAT A PEACH is located on the first floor. At the age of 18, Mr. Nakai began working at EAT A PEACH. However, the year after Mr. Nakai began working there, the owner of the store returned to his hometown, so Mr. Nakai was able to take over the store at a very low price. For a long time, EAT A PEACH operated on the first floor by itself; however, when the shop on the second floor closed its doors, Mr. Nakai, seeing this as a chance, took a 1 million yen loan from his parents and opened TROUBLE PEACH. It opened in 1980. Mr. Nakai was 24.

If you go up the narrow stairwell to the side of the shop’s façade, you arrive in Shangri-La. The records Mr. Nakai puts on resound throughout this establishment that carries decades of stories, with its lights and walls stained over the years by tobacco soot. The records in the shop include everything except blues, soul, and funk - so-called “black music.” When asked about this, we were informed: “It’s because I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable on the subject.” A variety of different music can be heard amongst the songs that Mr. Nakai chooses to play. As expected, there are records from the Golden Age of 60s and 70s rock, but what is surprising is that records from 80s bands like Culture Club are also played here. Of course, they also accept requests from customers. As a result of taking requests from classic rock-loving customers, Mr. Nakai has built up a collection of over 10,000 records at home and in the shop. Inside, there are of course rare and precious records, but Mr. Nakai tells us casually: “Part-time workers have taken records after quitting, though, so I don’t really like keeping expensive records at the shop (aha).” Anyhow, Mr. Nakai was wonderful and that story was very entertaining.

There are countless episodes involving meeting famous musicians at the shop which are unknown to the media, but if you heard those stories you’re guaranteed to fall in love with those musicians too. Also, Mr. Nakai’s rock lecture is light yet nevertheless meaningful, making you want to listen to it forever. It’s unusual to find someone with such a unique yet unbiased temperament.  You can understand then why this place is so beloved by so many musicians.

We asked Mr. Nakai who has been playing records in Shimokita for 45 years to name his ultimate favorite record. One would presume according to the store’s name that it would be The Allman Brothers Band’s EAT A PEACH, but contrary to expectations we received a surprising answer. “Everyone thinks I like Allman and Southern rock, but actually I like Bob Dylan and The Band (haha). However, it’s kind of a pain so I often just go with ‘I like Allman’ (aha),” which made us laugh.

Amongst Bob Dylan’s works, his favorite song is usually FOREVER YOUNG from the album Planet Waves, but apparently after a recent hernia surgery where his entire body was anaesthetized, Mr. Nakai’s personality changed a bit. After that personality change, his number one pick became I Want You from BLONDE ON BLONDE. “As the anesthesia wore off, for some reason I longed for others and the melody of I Want You floated to the surface of my mind,” said Mr. Nakai with a gentle smile.

At any rate, to those wondering: “Why ‘TROUBLE PEACH’ then if you don’t like Allman,” that’s an interesting origin story in and of itself that we want you to come and hear from Mr. Nakai directly.

Also, Mr. Nakai is currently writing a novel based on a true story about the Japanese rock world. The planned release date is the beginning of Golden Week (Japanese Holiday in May), and should be filled with many different anecdotes from this store, which will bring about even more fans to come.


Address: 2F 2-9-18 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Business Honors: 7PM to 7AM
Holidays: pretty much everydat
Cost estimate: 2,000~3,000 yen
Music genre: ROCK
Record count: owner’s record collection is over 10,000

Translation: Kellie La

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