Sure I Know How to Play Bongos; Or, Drum Shopping in Shibuya

We’re back in Japan! The kids and I visited family and friends in Texas and Washington DC for about a month, and Mark stayed for roughly three weeks.

After Mark returned to Japan he ran into Tom, a member of the local expat rock band called Honmoku Blues Express. Tom knows that I’m a drummer and he asked Mark if I’m available to play an upcoming gig with the band…..on bongos. “Well she is a drummer….” he replied. When Mark shared the news with me I got really excited. Because when the local rock band asks you to join them there’s only one answer: Yaaaaaaas.

I reached out to my DC drum teacher Lindy for shopping and playing advice. Always positive, she cheerfully offered the following guidance: “In terms of playing, think of the low drum as the bass drum (play on 1 and 3) and the higher drum as the snare (play on 2 and 4).” Super helpful. Thanks, Lindy! My drum teacher in Japan Marcos initially responded to my news with the only reasonable answer: he doubled over in laughter. Which to be fair, most people do. After he recovered he offered his congratulations and suggested that I get a bongo stand as well.

First I tried finding bongos used. The second-hand chain of stores called Book Off includes musical instruments at some locations, and I recalled seeing bongos there in the past. But alas–phone calls to several locations found no used bongos. Another friend suggested Yahoo Auctions Japan, but I couldn’t find anything good there either. So today the kids and I hit the rails for Tokyo. Our destination: Ishibashi Music’s Shibuya West location, their drum and percussion store.

IMG_7618After a brief stop at the Hachiko statue at Shibuya crossing….

We started down narrow streets and found a hidden elevator to Ishibashi Music’s drum store on the second floor of a non-descript and not super well labeled building.


I did my research ahead of time and found a decent entry-level model at a reasonable price, Meinl’s Headliner series. “Nice choice–Meinl stuff is solid,” enthused Lindy via Facebook. The kids picked out new drumsticks, because that’s what you do when you visit a drum store. Obvs.

IMG_7652On our way home I decided to splurge on the green car of the train, which includes individual seats that recline. So much more civilized than packing into the crowded regular cars! If there’s a time to try out the green car, then it’s definitely the start of the afternoon rush heading out of Tokyo on a Friday afternoon.

The first gig is in one week, so I have my work cut out for me. Stay tuned!

My new bongos! Super excited

3 thoughts on “Sure I Know How to Play Bongos; Or, Drum Shopping in Shibuya

  1. Pingback: Let’s Go Shopping: Recycled Goods at Hard Off – martayaki

  2. Pingback: Momma’s in a Rock ‘n Roll Band – martayaki

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