As a book-lover currently in Tokyo, I would be remiss if I didn’t make a concerted effort to visit Jinbocho, also known as Tokyo’s Book Town. I was first made aware of the area from an anime called Read or Die (R.O.D), and seeing it in person met my expectations.
Like most of Japan, this district is full of tiny shops that carry a limited inventory. But that doesn’t mean a small inventory by any means. The shelves in even the smallest shop are jam packed with an orderly supply of new and/or used items. Depending on the shop, you can find books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, LPs games, gifts, artwork and occasionally video or cassette tapes.
One small shop we tried had an impressive assortment of books and magazines that that were all travel related. Another was full to the ceiling with music related books, posters, magazines, LPs, DVDs etc. We saw other shops specializing in art, exercise, gaming, manga, foreign languages, and more. According to the area map, there are 158 books shops intermixed with cafes, lunch shops, publishing houses, and universities.
The one thing that impressed me most was the amount of shoppers everywhere. We found ourselves on Suzuran-Dori around 10:30 on Tuesday morning as the stores were opening for business. While crowds were not impassable, every floor of the 8 level Sanseido Shoten had shoppers, and there was brisk book trade all around.
If you’re ever in Tokyo, I highly recommend checking out this historic district not far from the imperial grounds.