The temperature drops a couple of degrees as the train crosses the Tama River heading toward Mt Fuji. The destination is Hachiōji, which sits on the westernmost edge of Tokyo. Stepping outside the station at night, Hachiōji feels like a smaller version of central Tokyo: neon advertising above, people scurrying around below. A short walk from here is a small basement venue called SHeLTeR, which Yoshio Nojima has been running since 1989.
SHeLTeR is the kind of place that gets audiophiles drooling. There’s a Bozak mixer, high-end amps and giant, ornate-looking JBL speakers. For 27 years, Nojima has been on a quest to perfect SHeLTeR’s acoustics. Rarely does a day go by when he doesn’t tinker with his setup in some subtle way. Foam and cardboard tubing line the walls and ceiling, dampening the sound’s reflection. DJs can use the record-cleaning fluid that Nojima’s friends make. In front of the booth, four comfy chairs are positioned facing away from the DJ and towards the main speakers. This, Nojima tells me, is where the music sounds best.
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