I miss my guitar. It’s the only thing I would’ve liked to bring but couldn’t.

Fortunately, these universal articles of awesomeness are sold everywhere, so now and then I get to duck into a music store and play a little.

The sign for the shop across the street from our current place reads, “Premium guitars. Vintage, used, and brand new,” which usually means they have a full supply of cheapos and a couple decent Martins.

Woodman Instruments - Shibuya, Tokyo

It’s a reasonable assumption. When I sold one of my guitars on a Martin forum, every single person who inquired was international. The cost of importing American guitars is astronomical – the Irish buyer would have paid twice as much for a new one!

But this little store, tucked away in a residential area of Shibuya, turned out to have a selection that would be impressive anywhere.

Little Martin parlor guitars from the ’30s. Big Gibson J-45s from the ’60s. A 1956 Stratocaster that would set you back $68,000.00!


I’ve always stuck to Martins, but the wall of Gibson dreadnoughts seemed much cooler. A dark-stained J-45 with a white pickguard was the James Dean of the group, but after trying a few I settled on a golden 1964 J-45CS.

Martins sound much better to me, but there’s something that made playing the Gibsons more fun. They look like they have more character… maybe that translates into a feeling?

Playing a 1964 J-45CS

They probably had 30-40 vintage Gibson acoustics and archtops, 30 or so Martins from 0-18s to an 000-45 custom, a handful of Guilds, and some vintage Fenders.

Their inventory is online here.

If you’re around Tokyo and looking for lots of awesome acoustics and some special electrics, pay a visit to Katsuyuki Sakai at Woodman Instruments, just behind the Cerulean Hotel in Shibuya.

And don’t forget me if you get a free J-45CS with your purchase. :)

Woodman Instruments