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Hi! I’m Tracy, and I love anime and manga!

Do you know “Dragon Ball,” “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” and “Gundam”? I bet you have heard at least one of them before! Anime as an art form aesthetic that has reached out from Japan to influence animation and live-action films worldwide. That’s why you were attracted by the title and are reading this article right now!

When someone mentions “anime spots,” most people would think of Akihabara. But there are also some incredible anime spots near where I live in Ikebukuro, and I’m going to tell you all about them!

 

Tokyo Anime and Manga: ANi★CUTE

ANi CUTE3 Tokyo anime and manga spots

ANi★CUTE is an official shop of NIPPON ANIMATION. At ANi★CUTE, you can buy cute goods based on “Chibi Maruko-chan” and “Rascal the Raccoon.” Kids in Japan love these popular anime shows!

You can visit the ANi★CUTE’s Website (via Google translate) for more information. If you want to visit them in person, they are an 8-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), on the 2nd floor of Sunshine City ALPA. Click on the map below for walking directions!

Sunshine City Tokyo anime and manga spots

TORA NO ANA

TORA NO ANA is one of the top 3 anime stores in Japan. They focus on selling dōjinshi, which are self-published works fan fiction.

There are actually two TORA NO ANA stores in Ikebukuro. Store A is male-oriented and and store B is female-oriented. Be careful! You may become embarrassed if you go into the wrong store.  TORA NO ANA sells adult dōjinshi, and there is no special section where they are by themselves.

TORA NO ANA A2 Tokyo anime and manga spots

Tora no ana Tokyo anime and manga spots

TORA NO ANA (male oriented)

tora no ana Tokyo anime and manga spots tora no ana Tokyo anime and manga spots

TORA NO ANA (female oriented)

You can visit the TORA NO ANA’s website (via Google Translate) or follow the male oriented store on Twitter (via Google Translate). If you want to see the female side, you can visit their Twitter (via Google Translate), too! Both are close to Ikebukuro JR Station, and you can find them by clicking on the map above.

 

NAMJATOWN

namjatown Tokyo anime and manga spotsNAMJATOWN is Namco’s theme park for gyoza (Japanese dumplings) and ice cream. Don’t ask why, it’s Japanese! You can have a nice afternoon eating and enjoying the different cartoon attractions! Throughout the year there are special events held in collaboration with popular anime like “Yuri on Ice” or “Osomatsu-kun.” It’s fun!

You can visit the NAMJATOWN’s Website for more information. A little tip to save your money is that buying “Namja After3 Passport”(Unlimited Attractions Pass after 3:00pm) for ¥2,300 helps you save ¥300!  The NAMJATOWN is an 8-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), 2F of Sunshine City World Import Mart Building, click on the map below for walking directions!

LASHINBANG (らしんばん)

Locating on the Otome Road – a street in Ikebukuro where shops are female oriented(Otome-Kei 乙女系), LASHINBANG is the largest store that specializes in second-hand anime goods. From tiny goods like badges to figures and cushions, you can find anime goods which are not popular anymore. Or sometimes you can find rare goods selling at a lower price here! They have 5 branches  in Ikebukuro, and the following are three stores on the Otome Road.

lashinbang Tokyo anime and manga spotsThe 2-floor LASHINBANG Main Store sells both male and female oriented goods – that means all kinds of anime! You can visit the Main Store Website (via Google Translate) or follow them on Twitter (via Google translate).

lashinbang Tokyo anime and manga spots

The LASHINBANG 2nd Store focuses on female oriented goods and anime CDs. You can visit the their Website (via Google Translate) or follow them on Twitter (via Google translate) .

lashinbang Tokyo anime and manga spotslashinbang Tokyo anime and manga spotsThe LASHINBANG Cosplay Store is on 4F of Animate Sunshine and is full of cosplay costumes and accessories. You can visit their Website (via Google Translate) or follow them on Twitter (via Google translate) .

All of these 3 stores are a 7-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit). Click on the map above for walking directions!

 

ACOS

You can buy everything you need for cosplay in one shop – costumes, wigs, color contact lenses, and even cosmetics are all here! No matter if you are a beginner or are experienced in cosplaying, just come here and you’ll truly enjoy the cosplayers paradise! You can visit the ACOS Website (via Google translate) for more information. If you want to come and buy cosplay stuff, the store is a 7-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), on the 2nd ~ 3rd floor of animate Sunshine. Click on the map below for walking directions!

 

P’PARCO

Not just for stores of famous teenager Japanese fashion brands, P’PARCO is also a shopping mall. Inside is the headquarters of the big video sharing website “NicoNico” and anime goods stores.

EVANGELION STORE

evangelion store Tokyo anime and manga spots

The official store for Evangelion and fans will be crazy for the limited items here!
Rejet shoprejet shop Tokyo anime and manga spots
The Rejet shop is the filled with goods of Otome-Kei anime produced by the Rejet.co, which mainly focusing on games and drama CDs.

THE CHARA SHOP (THEキャラSHOP)the chara shop Tokyo anime and manga spots
The Chara is an online shop for wide variety anime goods. Events collaborating with different anime are held in this physical store and you can buy limited goods here!

Dash Store (ダッシュストア)dash store Tokyo anime and manga spots

Anime collaborated events are held in a short period (that’s why it’s called “Dash Store”), have a grasp of time to get the limited items of your favorite anime here!
Limited Baselimited base Tokyo anime and manga spots
A store that full of “limited” collaborated items which you can only find here!

p'parco Tokyo anime and manga spots

You can visit the P’PARCO’s Website (via Google translate) for more information. The shopping mall is right next to Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), click on the map below for walking directions!

 

K-BOOKS

K-BOOKS is a store chain selling anime goods from old things to newest popular things. There are 13 stores in Ikebukuro, and all of them have different in themes, such as games, otome-kei, idols, etc! Here are two of them located on the Otome Road. Believe me, you won’t want to leave the store once you entered it (like me)!

k-books anime & live Tokyo anime and manga spots
The K-BOOKS Anime & Live Store are in the same building where you can find goods of all types of anime on 1F and idol anime on 2F. You can visit the Anime Store Website (via Google translate) or the Live Store Website(via Google translate) to have more information.

k-books otome Tokyo anime and manga spots

The Otome Store is only a few steps away from the Anime & Live Store that hundreds of otome-kei games and anime can be found here. You can visit the Otome Store Website (via Google translate) to have more information. Both of the stores are a 7-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit) and opposite to the Sunshine City, that means you can go there for shopping after buying anime goods!

 

POKEMON CENTER MEGA TOKYO

pokemon center Tokyo anime and manga spotsIt’s the largest Pokémon Center in Japan! A huge range of goods can be found here. Are you dreaming of becoming a Pokémon master?

Besides Pikachu, you can meet other Pokémon here and “catch” them all to take home! Check the Pokémon Center’s Website and take a 8-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), 2F of Sunshine City Alpa to see how amazing here is! Click on the map below for walking directions!

 

J-WORLD TOKYOj-world Tokyo anime and manga spots

J-WORLD is a theme park for Shonen Jump, which is the most popular manga magazine in the world. At J-WORLD, you can take photos with the famous manga characters in Shonen Jump such as Son Goku from “Dragon Ball,” Luffy from “One Piece,” Naruto from“Naruto,” and much more!

A warning for you: make sure to come with your stomach empty, because you are going to try the original menu with designs from your favorite manga here!

Another tip to help you travel cheaper is that you can buy tickets online in advance with a ¥100 discount or buy a Night Passport (Unlimited Attractions Pass after 5:00pm) for¥1,800 (you save ¥800)!

Check J-WORLD’s Website or Twitter (via Google translate) or Facebook (via Google translate) for more information! The characters are waiting you at the 3F of the Sunshine City World Import Mart Building, which is an 8-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit). Click on the map below for walking directions!

ANIMATE IKEBUKURO

animate ikebukuro Tokyo anime and manga spotsThe animate Ikebukuro is a 9-floor store with anime goods and an anime-collaborated cafe. It is the largest anime goods store in the world. It is famous not only because of the large stock of anime-related items, but also for the events held here such as anime exhibitions, autograph sessions of illustrators, and talk shows with voice actors.

When you step into animate, it’s just like you have entered into an  anime world where anime-related things are everywhere! You can definitely spend half a day exploring it! Visit animate Ikebukuro’s Website or Twitter (via Google translate) to find out what’s new! It is a 5-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), and you can easily find it by its recognizable logo on a tall building. Click on the map below for walking directions!

 

So you can see that there are many must-go places for anime fans in Ikebukuro. All of them are full of “treasures”! Make sure to visit!

February 17, 2017 0 comment
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Entrance to Taco Ché

The first thing I saw was a pygmy about to cut the nipple off of a captured Japanese girl’s left tit. And that’s just the door sign. If this doesn’t clue you in as to what you are about to get yourself into, nothing will.

Entrance to Taco Ché, Nakano Broadway Mall, Tokyo, Japan

TACO ché has a certain reputation amongst manga fans in Japan and beyond. Standing inside the small shop located on the third floor of the Nakano Broadway Mall’s escheresque building, I couldn’t really understand it. Is it the “rummage sale” indy feel? The artistic rebellion against established market themes? The “I’ve-been-there-and-you-haven’t” hipster cachet? I’m not into manga, so I tend to treat it the same way I treat all art–I may not know technical terms or styles or what’s in or out of fashion, but I know what I like when I see it. So let’s have a look.

As one would expect, the shelves are stuffed full of manga books. Some separated by topic, or artist, or other themes. The books themselves ranged in quality from professional publications to self-published pamphlets. It’s all in Japanese, so unless you have a good grasp on the written form of the language, you’re not going to find any reading material here. Illustrations range from simple line art and text to complex ink spills detailing someone’s mental illness and/or sexual hangups. Dragonball Z this ain’t.

I chose a book at random and discovered the incomprehensible adventures of Chinko-man, an apparently ordinary man with a head shaped like a penis. On the page I turned to, he was answering a phone. Exactly how talking on a phone works when your face is a foreskin is a question that I found impossible to avoid. Dude has no ears. So what, vibration? How does that not end, you know, happily? And what about the rest of his life? Blind dates have to be awkward, at least.

I turned my attention to the paintings over the shelves. The most prominent artist on display was partial to creepy nautical themes. Fish and various marine-styled monsters riding bicycles, or going to an aquarium, or enjoying a street festival. I liked the one that had a person in a dive suit driving a water-filled aquarium bus. If you like somewhat creepy art, this could be just the thing for your wall.

TACO ché doesn’t limit their artistic offerings to manga and canvas. There is a small but significant selection of grindcore and underground music labels on the shelves in front of the clerk’s desk. Across the shop are a handful of shelves devoted to DVD and VHS films–some I recognized, most I didn’t. I also found a zip-up bag shaped like a brain, a selection of buttons whose mottos seemed to be inside jokes of some sort, and a selection of T-shirts and leggings featuring characters from the books in the shop.

TACO ché is for varsity-level manga collectors who follow that scene, but it is not without its charms to people on the lookout for the strange and different. I, for one, could go for that painting of the aquarium bus.

TACO che Location Information

Website (via Google Translate) | Facebook | Twitter (Japanese) | Online Store (Google-translated)

Nearest Station: 4-minute walk from Nakano station. On the 3rd floor of Nakano Broadway Shopping Center, access through the Sunmall. (click on the Google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Open every day 12:00 am – 8:00 pm

“Why Go?”: For indie manga with that anti-establishment feel

Click on one of the links below to explore other shopping options in Tokyo–

February 16, 2015 0 comment
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When I first started looking around for used bookstores in Tokyo, a number of people told me about Caravan Books in Ikebukuro. But alas, by the time I got around to visiting, it had closed. The owner had moved his business online.

When I received this assignment, I went looking for Caravan’s online store, now known as Infinity Books. A Google search turned up–a bookstore in Tokyo? One I hadn’t been to or even knew about? What madness is this?

At Shinagawa station I transferred from the JR lines to the Keikyu Main Line Rapid Limited Express, heading towards Nishi-Magome. At the next stop (Sengakuji), I switched to the Toei Asakusa line (light red circle) going towards Oshiage (Skytree). I got off at Honjo-Azumbashi station and departed from the A1 exit.

At the A1 exit, a person can turn around and look directly at the Skytree itself. I am not that person. Putting the Skytree to my back, I walked along the sidewalk, passing under a light blue walking bridge that spanned the road. Looking right as I walked, I spotted the gigantic golden turd with which someone decided to mar Asakusa’s skyline. I continued walking until I found the small black sign announcing the presence of Infinity Books and Cafè.

Infinity Books is roomy and cozy, if a little on the dark side. The books are only split between fiction and non-fiction–you’ll find sci-fi novels right next to historical romances and murder mysteries. It sounds like a strange way to organize, but I liked it. You may not find the exact book you want, but you’ll find something. And when you find that something, take it to the back of the shop. There are a few tables that are better lit, as well as…a bar?

Yes indeed. Nick Ward, the owner and proprietor, ran a bar (The Fiddler, in Takadanobaba) prior to opening Infinity Books. He keeps Yebisu on tap, the perfect complement for the thinking drinker’s new book. He also ran Caravan Books back in the days before he moved his operation online. “The costs were enormous. The problem was that I was doing the same thing I’m doing now–six days a week, watching a computer screen, waiting for an order to come in. Only there was no one to talk to, no new people coming around. My wife finally told me to get all of the books out of the house, so I opened this place.” As of this writing, Infinity Books has been open for nine months.

Like Good Day, Infinity can’t survive by on-site bookselling alone. Nick gives English lessons and frequently holds events (such as the acoustic jams every second Saturday of the month). He also maintains Infinity’s online presence through Amazon and the store’s web page. Infinity Books takes trades, depending on whether or not Nick wants them; shelf space is limited. If he likes what you bring, Nick offers store credit (around 35% of the resale value) or cash (around 15%).

Inifinity has a rotating cast of characters, most of whom have followed the Yorkshireman from Caravan Books and The Fiddler. In my short time there, I met a pair of Canadian acoustic musicians, a Korean woman who sings classical Japanese songs, and an Irishman who teaches at a nearby university. However, I didn’t meet the ghost. Nick swears that she (it’s a woman, according to the people who have seen her) stomps around the store at night and throws things. Occasionally, she goes upstairs to the apartment building above the shop. “People there have seen her,” he says. He keeps a glass of beer over the bar for her, in case she gets thirsty. So far, she hasn’t drunk it. Maybe she doesn’t like Yebisu.

Nick and I chatted for a few hours about everything under the sun. Don’t be afraid to visit; he likes meeting and talking to new people. Even weirdos, which was a good thing for me.

“So Nick,” I started in on him. “Do you think Hitler had to fight a lot of time travelers?”

“What?”

“You know. You read books about people inventing time travel, and the first thing they think about doing is going back and killing Hitler. Deadpool just did a whole thing on it. It was in Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. It even has a TV Tropes page dedicated to the idea. What do you think?”

“I think that Harry Turtledove’s stuff is over in the fiction area.” He nodded at my pint glass. “How many of those have you had?”

WHAT I BOUGHT: Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner; I’m constantly giving this book away. I also bought W.E.B. Griffin’s The Hunters, which looked to be something along the lines of Clancy’s Rainbow Six, which I enjoyed. Also, a few beers (800 yen/pint).

WEBSITE: http://www.infinitybooksjapan.com, or keep up with them at their Facebook page.
Open Tuesday-Saturday 1100-2300, Sundays 1100-1800. Closed Mondays.

February 11, 2015 0 comment
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Don’t do what I did. I left Tokyo station at the North exit, crossed the street, and started walking around. It took me an hour to find Maruzen in this fashion. It was at this point that I began thinking that Google Maps wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Do this instead. Inside Tokyo station, go towards the North exit. Instead of leaving the station at the exit, instead turn as if you are going to the Subway Tozai Line (blue circle). Walk until you see Mr. Minit; it should be on your right.

Across from Mr. Minit is a sketchy-looking exit. It is unmarked; there is no indication as to where it might lead. Strange for orderly Japan, right? Well, if you go up through this exit, it puts you right at the front door of Maruzen. As soon as you leave the station, crane your neck and look straight up. You will see the big M logo.

maruzen tokyo

Maruzen is a big box store, though their English section is smaller than Kinokuniya’s in Shinjuku. The fourth floor is where the foreign books are located (in addition to English, there are a number of German and French books). The escalator puts you right in front of that eternal bookstore fixture, the cafè. Turn right to get to the good stuff.

The new releases are right up front, and a fiction section was behind that. Both had a good selection. Going in deeper, I found an extensive children’s section, including a number of Golden Books that I knew from when I was just a ‘lil reader. I pulled one off the shelf–Lightning McQueen is having an adventure of some sort. So much for the classics. Still, they had The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, which certainly counts in their favor.

Of special interest to English teachers and the parents of young children will be the large section with Oxford Graded Readers and Penguin Active Reading books, to help your kid/student with their vocabulary and reading skills. Another thing that caught my eye was the large collection of Oxford Very Short Intros. These books (currently around 400 different volumes are in print) take topics such as Descartes, AIDS, American History, Fractals, etc. and distill the topic to around 150 pages of easy-to-understand reading. If you want to learn something new but don’t know where to start, these books are great entry points.

After an extensive nonfiction section, the rest of the fourth floor of the Maruzen is taken up with various frip-frappery with only vague connections to books. I could understand the stationery and the pens (even the 10,000 yen pens), but purses? Ties? It just threw off my groove.

WHAT I BOUGHT: The Oxford Very Short Intro to Prehistory.

WEBSITE: http://www.marunouchi.com/e/shop/detail/2015.
Open daily 0900-2100.

Can’t get enough of bookstores? Visit Derek’s comprehensive review of Tokyo’s best bookstores, both big and small.

February 7, 2015 0 comment
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“I have to go check out all of the English language Tokyo bookstores. The lady at the website assigned it to me,” I kept my gaze low, hoping to avoid the truth-eliciting stare my wife was able to summon during interrogations of this sort.

She knows better. “Bull! You’ll take any excuse to go to a bookstore! You volunteered to do it, didn’t you?”

“No.” But I would have. I have always loved books. I didn’t take up smoking in high school with the cool kids, because buying cigarettes would have cut into my book-buying funds. After I joined the Navy, I didn’t get a tattoo for the same reason. To this day, I’m the only un-tattooed sailor I know. I’m also the only one I know who can quote PJ O’Rourke.

“How much are you getting paid to do this?”

I said a number.

“That won’t pay for everything you’ll buy!”

Also true.

“Oh, go ahead! Don’t bring back a library!”

Can’t promise anything.

 

AMAZON.CO.JP

Amazon delivers almost everywhere, and Amazon.co.jp has a few more features than I expected.

But first, I need an account. The site has the handy “English” option at the top that I’ve come to look for on major Japanese sites, so I switched to that. Other people have told me that they were able to log on to the .jp site with the account they made in their home country. No such luck for me. So, I’ll just make a new account–

Name Pronunciation.

What’s this? Can’t skip it. “Invalid furigana name?” What the hell is furigana? Googled it. Well, there’s something I didn’t know. I typed my name in hiragana in the box, and I was able to register. If you can’t do the same, find a Japanese friend to help you.

I did a search for one of my favorite books, The Tao of Pooh. The book was available, but the site shifted back to Japanese. Was there no way to check out Benjamin Hoff’s classic on Amazon’s site in eigo? Not a problem if you recognize Amazon’s “add to cart” button, but jarring nonetheless. I was able to backtrack a bit and find a “shop in English” section, but difficulties were encountered.

I was able to browse the Kindle section without incident. I did a search for Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket, and the results came up in Japanese (which he probably would have found ironic). Unfortunately, it’s not available in Japan, which can be the case with many things you could normally get back where you’re from.  Clicking on the first entry put me right back into English mode. Weird.

I looked into shipping and handling. Handling is 324 yen per order, and shipping is 514 yen (same day expedited) or 360 yen (Expedited and Scheduled delivery; all shipping is free to Prime members). You can have boxes delivered to a nearby convenience mart instead of your house. But why would you do that? Ok, maybe you are on the run from the law or have sketchy roommates who are always on the lookout for loose Tolstoy. If so, you can have your packages delivered to a nearby Lawsons, Family Mart, or Ministop by selecting “store pickup” under the shipping options. So if you can’t find what you want in any of the Tokyo bookstores we mention below, check online. It’s a sterile experience and not at all like going to one of the real Tokyo bookstores, but if you gotta have it…

Website: http://www.amazon.co.jp/
Open 24-7.

But instructions for Amazon is not why you’re here, is it? Any fool with a bookmark (physical or computer) can find Amazon. I know what you want.

You want that smell. That lovely perfume of of words trapped between covers. You want to roam around a Tokyo bookstore, to browse, and to find something new. Something that you didn’t know existed a few minutes ago but now cannot do without. Think that’s impossible in Tokyo? It’s not even difficult. And I spent two days (and a pretty good amount of cash) proving it.

Tokyo Bookstores

The Library

Have you considered your local library? Most libraries in the Tokyo area have a selection of English books. If you are a resident, you can get a library card with proof of residence (I used my Residence Card). If not, no one minds if you come in to browse. My local library has a few full bookshelves, mostly popular fiction from the past two decades. Do note that if you need some sort of reference material (encyclopedias, language books) that they will be grouped in the reference section, not with the other English books. Maybe not the same selection that you could get at one of the local Tokyo bookstores, but it’s free.

Website: Tokyo library; check your local area for web accessibility.

 

Book-Off

Book-Off is a chain of used Tokyo bookstores that can be found throughout the city and beyond. Normally they sell Japanese books and manga, video game stuff, movies, etc. Book-Off’s Tokyo bookstores have actually spun off into other areas, such as Hard-Off (stop giggling, it’s for housewares, clothing, home electronics, and the like), used clothing, and an assortment of other reusable materials.

Most of Book-Off’s Tokyo bookstores have an English section somewhere in their collection, but don’t expect to find much. The books are usually airport cast-offs, bizarre cookbooks from the 90s, novelizations of movies and popular fiction, etc. They have a 108 yen paperback section, just don’t expect to find a great selection.

“And where are the Book-Offs?” you might ask. Well, that’s tricky–if you don’t already know where one is, and you can’t read the Japanese page of Book-Off locations (which, for whatever reason, will not go through Google Translate), you might be out of luck. But not by much, given their selection. But they are common enough that the locals should be able to point you towards the closest location.

 

Infinity Books and Event Space

Tokyo Bookstores Infinity Books

With the demise of The Blue Parrot in Takadanobaba and the apparent dissolution of Good Day Books in Gotanda, Infinity Books is the only game left in town for second-hand English Tokyo bookstores.

Infinity Books is roomy and cozy. The books are only split between fiction and non-fiction–you’ll find sci-fi novels right next to historical romances and murder mysteries. It sounds like a strange way to organize, but I liked it. You may not find the exact book you want, but you’ll find something. And when you find that something, take it to the back of the shop. There are a few tables that are better lit, as well as…a bar?

Yes indeed. Nick Ward, the owner and proprietor, ran a bar (The Fiddler, in Takadanobaba) prior to opening Infinity Books. He keeps Yebisu and Bass on tap, the perfect complement for the thinking drinker’s new book. He also ran Caravan Books back in the days before he moved his operation online. “The costs were enormous. The problem was that I was doing the same thing I’m doing now–six days a week, watching a computer screen, waiting for an order to come in. Only there was no one to talk to, no new people coming around. My wife finally told me to get all of the books out of the house, so I opened this place.”

As far as the books go, you can visit and browse in person, or check online by category or the offline search service. Infinity Books takes trades, depending on whether or not Nick wants them; shelf space is limited. If he likes what you bring, Nick offers store credit (around 35% of the resale value) or cash (around 15%). He also frequently holds events (such as the acoustic jams every second Saturday of the month)–great for meeting new people, local musicians, and other book lovers.

Tokyo Bookstores Infinity 2

Infinity has a rotating cast of characters, most of whom have followed the Yorkshireman from Caravan Books and The Fiddler. In my short time there, I met a pair of Canadian acoustic musicians, a Korean woman who sings classical Japanese songs, and an Irishman who teaches at a nearby university. However, I didn’t meet the ghost. Nick swears that she (it’s a woman, according to the people who have seen her) stomps around the store at night and throws things. Occasionally, she goes upstairs to the apartment building above the shop. “People there have seen her,” he says. He keeps a glass of beer over the bar for her, in case she gets thirsty. So far, she hasn’t drunk it. Maybe she doesn’t like Yebisu.

Website ||| Facebook ||| Twitter ||| Online Store

Nearest Station: 5-minute walk from Honjo-Azumbashi Station exit A1 (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 11pm, Sundays and Holidays 11am – 6pm. Closed Mondays, open late for events.

 

Tokyo Bookstores : Kinokuniya Main Store Shinjuku

The website lists the Tokyo bookstore as being in the Takashimaya Times Square building, which is easily reached from the New South Exit of Shinjuku station. I go inside, look at the floor guide, and see the Kinokuniya listed as being in the B1. Easy!

Not really. The moment I stepped off the escalator, I knew something was up. As with the basements of most department stores in Japan, Takashimaya Times Square’s basement was a gigantic supermarket. I found a sign pointing to “Kinokuniya” and followed it, where I found…a grocery store?

As it turns out, books are just one part of the Kinokuniya business. I managed to find another sign pointing “to the bookstore” (apparently someone got tired of lost foreigners raiding the vegetable section for the latest issue of The Economist). The sign leading to the bookstore led me to a dimly lit, somewhat scary-looking bare hallway. Strange artwork, not quite graffiti, was scrawled on the walls. No problem, I’ve braved worse for my literary fix. Still, I breathed a sigh of relief when I spotted the elevator at the end of the hall. A sign next to the elevator informed me that the foreign books were on the sixth floor.

Strange graffiti on the way to Kinokunia, Shinjuku

Books Kinokuniya is one of the big-box Tokyo bookstores. Inside, the place was indistinguishable from a Barnes and Noble in the US. The elevator opened into an extensive children’s and young adult’s section, meandering into a magazine section with the latest issues of what you’re looking for. Football magazines (American and metric) were next to Newsweek and Time. Next was a large section on comics, both translated Japanese manga and American graphic novels.

Moving on, there were a large number of scholarly works and textbooks on various topics. The “local” section featured the translated works of Japanese authors (the works of Haruki Murakami and Eiji Yoshikawa shelved next to Rashamon and collections of Japanese fairy tales). There were also large sections devoted to books in French, German, Spanish, and Italian.

If you’re looking for it, Kinokuniya Main Tokyo bookstores in Shinjuku probably has it. They have a “Book Import Department”, but no one there could answer any of my questions. Maybe I just caught them at the wrong time, but I got the impression that the staff wasn’t very knowledgeable about what was on the shelves. If you want it, you better know where it is.

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Facebook (English) ||| Twitter (Japanese)

Nearest Station: 6-minute walk from Yoyogi Station , inside the Takeshimaya Times Square Building, 6th floor (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 10am – 20:30 pm

 

Maruzen Marunouchi Main Store

Don’t do what I did. I left Tokyo station at the North exit, crossed the street, and started walking around. It took me an hour to find Maruzen Marunouchi Main Tokyo bookstores in this fashion.

Do this instead. Inside Tokyo station, go towards the North exit. Instead of leaving the station at the exit, instead turn as if you are going to the Subway Tozai Line (blue circle). Walk until you see Mr. Minit; it should be on your right.

Across from Mr. Minit is a sketchy-looking exit. It is unmarked; there is no indication as to where it might lead. Strange for orderly Japan, right? Well, if you go up through this exit, it puts you right at the front door of Maruzen Marunouchi Main Store. As soon as you leave the station, crane your neck and look straight up. You will see the big M logo.

Maruzen is also big box store, though their English section is smaller than Kinokuniya’s in Shibuya. The fourth floor is where the foreign books are located (in addition to English, there are a number of German and French books). The escalator puts you right in front of that eternal bookstore fixture, the cafè. Turn right to get to the good stuff.

The new releases are right up front, and a fiction section was behind that. Both had a good selection. Going in deeper, I found an extensive children’s section, including a number of Golden Books that I knew from when I was just a ‘lil reader. I pulled one off the shelf–Lightning McQueen is having an adventure of some sort. So much for the classics. Still, they had The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, which certainly counts in their favor.

Of special interest to English teachers and the parents of young children will be the large section with Oxford Graded Readers and Penguin Active Reading books, to help your kid/student with their vocabulary and reading skills. Another thing that caught my eye was the large collection of Oxford Very Short Introductions. These books (currently around 400 different volumes are in print) take topics such as Descartes, AIDS, American History, Fractals, etc. and distill the topic to around 150 pages of easy-to-understand reading. If you want to learn something new but don’t know where to start, these books are great entry points.

After an extensive non-fiction section, the rest of the fourth floor of the Maruzen is taken up with various frip-frappery with only vague connections to books. I could understand the stationery and the pens (even the 10,000 yen pens), but purses? Ties? It just threw off my groove.

Website (English)

Nearest Station: 1-minute walk from Tokyo Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open daily 9am – 9pm

 

Tower Records Shibuya

Leave Shibuya station via the Hachiko exit. Go straight ahead to the busiest crosswalk in the world and look to your right. You should be able to see the yellow “Tower Records” sign down the street.

When I first got to Japan in 1997, Tower Records was the place to go if you wanted any English books and magazines from any Tokyo bookstores. The foreign books section took up the entire seventh floor and had anything you might want. The comics and art books gave that part of the store an “underground” vibe (as much as you can get while shopping at a corporate juggernaut, anyway).

In 2012, the foreign bookstore moved from the seventh floor to the second as part of a remodeling and restructuring. No longer spacious, the bookstore now had to share half of the floor with a cafè. Since then, the selection of English books and magazines has shrunk, encroached upon by Japanese books of similar flavors. This might be a great place to get a popular fiction book for your Japanese friend that you have read in English, but the pickings are starting to get slim. One gets the feeling that this bookstore may not be around much longer.

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Twitter (Japanese) ||| Youtube ||| Online Store (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 10am – 11pm

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February 2, 2015 0 comment
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Akihabara is the global cultural hub for all things related to anime and manga. With such a vast treasure trove of varied literature found within the bustling district, K-Books is the place to go for an organised and centralised shopping experience. K-Books is by far the best location for discovering everything that has to do with anime, manga, otaku, and Japan’s underground culture. Just off of Chou-dori, K-Books is a monolithic multi-story building that is jam-packed with all things Akihabara inspired and desired.

The first floor of this sprawling store is mostly dedicated to manga and anime magazines. The sheer variety of manga on this floor is astounding, but everything is neatly organised into subsections, allowing for a streamlined shopping experience. You will be able to find those old classics from your childhood (Hello Inu Yasha and Sailor Moon!) in their original bound volumes as well as stumbling upon brand new series that you never knew existed. Although there is a dearth of mangas with English language serialisations at the store, those who have yet to master the Japanese language will be happy to find art books of some of their favorite series that can only be found in Japan. No matter what your language level is, manga fans of all backgrounds will be able to find something to sink their teeth into.

Reaching the upper levels of K-Books is when things get interesting, intriguing, and downright weird. Some of these floors are mostly 18+ because of the nature of the photo-books and the body-pillows, but the other levels of this store are open to fans of all ages. A combination of both vintage and fresh new toys of a plethora of series are found throughout the various floors. Especially check out the third floor where you will find a maze of keychains and miniature action figures. K-Books also caters to those who are fans of the girl group AKB48 as they sell an impressive collection of idol goods as well as the light-up wands that you see fans waving at AKB48 concerts.

If you are already a fan of Akihabara or intrigued by the culture that fuels this electric town then K-Books will be the perfect place to dedicate a few hours of your day.

K-Books Akihabara Store Information

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Twitter (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: Two-minute walk from Akihabara Station (Keihin-Tohoku, Hibiya, Yamanote and Chuo-Sobu lines)

Hours of Operation: Open weekdays 11:30 am – 8pm, Saturdays and Holidays 11am – 8pm

“Why Go?”: A taste of Japan’s diverse literary culture in a world-famous electric district

Click on one of the tags below to explore other shopping options in Tokyo–

October 22, 2014 0 comment
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