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Tea Leaves

For many music lovers in Japan, 'real' means vinyl

The tables are turning for a part of the industry once in decline

A massive, walnut-paneled speaker gets pride of place at Paragon, a jazz cafe in Japan's southern Kagoshima Prefecture. (Photo by Ken Moriyasu)

Near the southernmost point of "mainland" Japan, in Ichikikushikino, Kagoshima Prefecture, there is a jazz cafe which, from the moment you enter, makes you forget you are in a town of just 13,500 households, or even, perhaps, that you are in the 21st century.

Lining the walls of Paragon, which opened in 1976, are some 5,000 jazz records. To one side is a massive walnut-paneled speaker -- its curiously anachronistic official name is the JBL-Ranger Paragon Integrated Stereophonic Reproductor. Up front is a stack of paper inviting guests to "feel free to make a request," and three lines asking for the song title, the artist and the album it is from.

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