At the age of 18, Kenji Sakajiri left his hometown of Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture, and moved to Osaka. He wasn't headed to college or looking for a day job. Instead he dived headfirst into the world of vinyl records.

This was in 1992 and the Japanese club scene was deep into acid jazz, a dance-oriented hybrid of jazz, funk and hip-hop popularized in Britain by Gilles Peterson and in Japan by DJ Krush. Sakajiri loved it.

"The U.K. had a great scene of DJs who would come to Japan, and when I was 19 years old I went to London to buy records and see the scene," he says. "At the time, Gilles Peterson was doing gigs at a club called Bar Rumba. Being able to see his set with my own eyes led me to become a DJ in Japan."