Two stops from Tokyo Station on the Chuo-line and you're in a musical paradise! Tokyo Station is the terminus for the Chuo-line so unless you board the wrong line, you're bound to reach your destination. Board the train with the orange stripe at its head so you'll be closest to the proper exit. After a brief stop at Kanda Station disembark at Ochanomizu. Exit using the west gate.
The map above show the location of several of the Shimokura stores but trust me, there's plenty of other stores to browse! You'll need very little or no knowledge of Japanese to navigate your way to the stores. Signs with the word Guitar or ギター are ubiquitous and if all else fails, look for instruments in the window.
You'll find a lot of American instruments in these stores but you'll also find Japanese brands as well- some made in Japan, some made in China. There are plenty of stores in Ochanomizu that specialize in selling used instruments but be warned, they are much more expensive than what you'd find here in the States. Takumi Ukuleles' Kiwaya, Lo Prinzi, Famous are widely distributed, Seilin's T's Ukulele are a bit harder to find but quality instruments. There are a number of luthiers in Japan making some really beautiful instruments but you'll find that like most Japanese instruments, they tend to be on the upper end of the price scale. But you do get what you pay for, don't you...
Korg of keyboard fame, recently released in Japan a full line of D'Angelico archtop ukuleles. I've seen the YouTubes but have yet to get my hands on one so let me know if you find one and what you think!
Japan is one of the last countries in the world with strong CD sales which, in a country short on living space, seems just a bit counter intuitive. This means that there's a lot of CD shops with new and used CDs of every variety! Disk Union, the largest chain, sells both used and new CD's. I've found more of the most arcane, out-of-print, hard to find CDs at Disk Union than anywhere I've ever been!
Happy hunting and be sure to share your finds here!
I'm an amateur ukulele player who happens to be fluent in Japanese. I hope that I can inspire you to learn more about the ukulele, Japan, or better yet, BOTH!