Japanese Vinyl 101: What is an OBI-Strip? - Indie Vinyl Den

Japanese Vinyl 101: What is an OBI-Strip?

The term "OBI" (帯), used for the paper strip on Japanese records and other products, originates from the Japanese word for "sash" or "belt," traditionally worn with kimono or other Japanese dress. In a traditional Japanese context, an obi is a broad sash that wraps around the waist and is tied at the back. It is an essential part of traditional Japanese attire and comes in various styles, colors, and materials.

An OBI strip is a paper strip, typically found wrapped around the spine of Japanese vinyl records, CDs, books, or other products. In the context of Japanese vinyl records, these OBI strips are particularly notable and collectible. They serve several purposes:

  1. Identification and Information: OBI strips provide information about the record such as the title, artist, track list, price, catalog number, and sometimes a brief description or promotional material. This is particularly useful since many Japanese releases contain text predominantly in Japanese. For international collectors, these strips can be essential for understanding the content of the record.

  2. Marketing and Promotion: The OBI strip often contains marketing information, like advertisements for other albums by the artist or on the same label. It might also include information about awards, chart positions, or special features of the album.

  3. Aesthetic Appeal: For collectors, the OBI strip adds to the aesthetic appeal of the record. Many collectors value the OBI strip for its visual appeal and its role in completing the original packaging.

  4. Collectibility and Value: In the collector's market, a Japanese vinyl record with its original OBI strip often holds more value than one without it. The strip indicates that the item is complete and has been well-maintained.

The presence of an OBI strip can significantly affect the collectibility and resale value of Japanese vinyl records. Collectors often seek out these items specifically for the unique design and additional information provided by the OBI strip.

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