Roland open their second retail store, this time in the heart of Tokyo’s fashion district, Harajuku. Exclusive pictures of synths and more.
Roland Store Tokyo
Roland’s first retail store opened in 2022 in London fittingly on Denmark Street, the center of the city’s music industry. Now the Japanese company has expanded its retail operations with a second shop, this time in Tokyo. But rather than Shibuya or Ochanomizu, areas famous for their musical instrument shops, Roland has chosen Harajuku, the fashion centre of Japan.
You may have heard of Harajuku before. It’s what Gwen Stefani sang about in “Harajuku Girls”. It’s been the birthplace of more street fashion than anywhere else in Japan, and it continues to this day as a Mecca for tastemakers, art students and fashionistas. It’s also something of a tourist destination, with domestic and international visitors packing its narrow streets from morning until night.
Opening a musical instrument store amidst all the fashion shops may at first seem like an unusual choice, but then again Roland is practically a lifestyle brand itself, its company logo and 808 colour schemes famous in their own right.
I was granted a pre-opening visit to the shop. Tucked away on a side street in the upscale Omotesando section of Harajuku, the store is surprisingly small – but then again so are all of the boutiques in this area. The multi-story shop is divided into three sections, with synthesizers and drum machines on the first floor, drums and Boss pedals in the basement and digital pianos on the upper floor. Apparel – incredibly important in this part of town – is on the first floor just as you enter.
Being the synthesizer nut that I am, I spent most of my time on the main floor checking out all of the Aira, Boutique and Fantom instruments. I was surprised to see a monitor with a dedicated Roland Cloud sign-up menu but it does make sense, as Roland’s modern product lineup includes virtual instruments as well.
Venturing into the basement, I was impressed by the array of Boss pedals on display. As Roland doesn’t make guitars there were none on hand to demo the pedals with. Instead, you could try them out on a video of guitar playing triggered from an iPad. The basement room also featured a number of V-Drum kits.
Heading up to the digital piano showroom on the second floor was like entering a different store. With its separate entrance and soft natural light, it was worlds away from the candy store-like synthesizer and drum floors. It even has a proprietary “Audience Specific Experience” ASX retail technology setup, with variable lighting, audio and video on hand to suit customers’ tastes. Fancy.
Workshops and Demos
I was particularly interested to hear about some of the workshops Roland Store Tokyo would be offering onsite, including talks from Roland engineers. Roland’s headquarters are in Hamamatsu, a sleepy seaside town a few hours from Tokyo by bullet train, so Roland engineers don’t often get a chance to speak directly with customers. They’re reportedly looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I also live a few hours away so I won’t be attending. Colour me sad.
As with the London branch, the Tokyo store will also offer a Demo-on-Demand service, an appointment-based structure, if you want direct help with any instrument.
Really, it’s nice to see a new musical instrument store opening. Many stores are closing and fewer brick-and-mortar locations at which to actually demo instruments remain. Harajuku is a bold choice. It’s sure to attract a lot of foot traffic, especially with the 808 T-shirts positioned right in front. In any case, it will serve as a strong advertisement for Roland.
The store is now open in Harajuku in Tokyo. Visit the website for store hours and location.
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