Deep Listening in Japan

Air Date
BBC3 | 26th of March 2023 | 6.45 p.m.
Director: Andreas Hartmann


A sonic journey into Japan’s unique culture of music cafés and listening bars. Places where people come together to indulge in deep listening in audiophile quality, with venues for fans of everything from classical, jazz, to electronic music.

This culture has its origins in the time prior to the second world war, when imported records and audio equipment were prohibitively expensive. People began to gather in cafés where, for the price of a cup of coffee, they could listen to rare records on the highest quality gramophones.

While the traditional classical and jazz cafés are slowly disappearing, there are new modern listening bars emerging, often concentrating on specific genres and even microgenres of contemporary music, with a focus on the same concept of concentrated and collective listening.

Rich in binaural recordings, this radio documentary features the owners and regulars of legendary music cafés, like the classical music cafés Violon in Tokyo, and Musik in Kyoto, the jazz café Downbeat in Yokohama, as well as the DJ-Bar Bridge, a cutting-edge listening bar in Shibuya, Tokyo.


With: Peter Becker, Matthew Burton, Ian Dickinson, Riah Knight and Tomas Sinclair Spencer.

Image © BBC