Oct 22, 2020

The Importance Of OBI In Japanese Vinyl

Have you ever wondered what the OBI strip actually is? And the value it holds in Japanese vinyl?

The OBI strip is included only on Japanese pressings. Wrapped around the cover, it instantly distinguishes Japanese records from foreign pressings.

Japanese vinyl record experts, Face Records would like to show you the many kinds of OBI designs.

If you’re already curious about OBI strips, this article will only peak your interest.

3 key things about the OBI

OBI literally means ”sash” in Japanese and originally named for the belts worn in traditional Japanese clothing. However, for LP’s, the OBI is not an accessory.

1. OBI contains information about the LP

The OBI serves as a teaser, including information about the record such as the artist’s name, album title, release date, genre, price, and so on. Apart from the release date, the OBI even includes the date when retailers are allowed to reduce the price of the record. Although included in all Japanese records, the OBI strip was most useful when Japanese customers were digging for foreign LP’s. As Japanese labels did not want to jeopardize the original album artwork of western records by inserting Japanese writings, the OBI strip became the best solution.

2. What makes the OBI valuable?

Simply, an OBI is a collectors item. When record aficionados collect Japanese pressed vinyl, they are not only seeking great sound quality, but the holy OBI strip. Before gaining such a reputation, there have been many instances where Japanese OBI’s were mishandled or thrown into the bin by Japanese record owners. However, with or without one creates a significant difference in its value. It is usually thought that a Japanese pressing with it’s OBI is valued 1.5 times more than without it’s OBI.

The OBI strip is what completes a Japanese pressed record.

3. OBI is not only used for records

In Japan, the OBI strip is not just used for records, but for books, CDs, and DVDs. All with the same purpose, to give out information of the specific product.

The different kinds of OBI

There are variations of OBI designs and patterns.

OBI (standard style)


Usually placed on the left side of the LP cover, OBI the most common shape OBI is a vertically wrapper paper belt. Depending on the pressing of the record, the design of the OBI differs slightly.

Hankake OBI, Half OBI


During a very short period of time in the 1960s, Toshiba manufactured a uniquely shaped OBI called “Hankake” OBI. Also known as Half OBI, it is known to be the rarest kind of OBI ever produced in the history of Japanese pressed vinyl.

Hankake means “half-hanging” in Japanese. A Hankake OBI is folded less than one inch and hung from the back of the album cover.


As they are not wrapped around the cover, they can be easily torn or lost. For this reason, very few copies have remained intact, creating extraordinary value. Now, extremely hard to come by, records with a Hankake OBI are considered to be the rarest collector's item in Japanese vinyl.

For example, an online Japanese Auction in 2017 included the Beatles “Second Album” with a torn Hankake OBI that sold at $3000.



Cap OBI’s are folded and placed on top of the record cover. Unlike the thin paper used in standard OBI’s, Cap OBI’s are made of thicker, cardboard-like paper. The information of the record is written horizontally.

Sticker OBI

Sticker OBI

Used mainly in Japanese pressings of the mid 70s - 80s, sticker OBI is another style of OBI that tells the price, catalogue number, artist name and album title. Unlike other OBI’s, sticker OBI’s are attached to the shrinkwrap.


Japanese vinyl experts, Face Records specializes in vintage Japanese pressings.

We have a wide variety of Japanese pressed vinyl with the OBI strips for you to enjoy.

If you have never owned an OBI stripped Japanese record, let alone japanese quality pressing, purchase records on our website now.

Experience a new record lifestyle with Face Records.