Reading great books brings joy, excitement, surprise, and much more to our lives. It allows us to project ourselves into an imaginary world created by intriguing stories, attractive characters, beautiful pictures and the author’s passions for literature. Tokyo boasts a great number of bookstores which can be found not only in giant shopping malls but also along narrow streets. While there is no shortage of book stores in Tokyo, you will be surprised to find that most book stores only sell book written in Japanese. Luckily there are bookstores that specialize in selling a wide range of multilingual books imported from other countries as well. Some bookstores even have a cafe so you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while enjoying your new book. Here is our helpful list of the 10 best English bookstores in Tokyo!
1. Books Kinokuniya Tokyo
Kinokuniya is one of the biggest bookstore chains in Japan. Books Kinokuniya Tokyo is one of their locations in Tokyo which specializes in multilingual books imported from a range of countries, including books in English, Chinese, French, German and many other languages. This book heaven occupies the 6th floor of the south building of Takashimaya Times Square, a massive shopping complex in Shinjuku area. Every Wednesday they offer a 20% discount on foreign magazines. If you are busy during the week, but want to enjoy a relaxing reading on weekends, don’t miss the premium Friday sale; on the last Friday of each month you to get a 10% discount on any kinds of foreign books!
Books Kinokuniya Tokyo
11am – 7pm
2. Maruzen Marunouchi
If you are looking for an English bookstore in the eastern side of Tokyo around Marunouchi, Ginza and Nihonbashi, head to Maruzen Marunouchi which exclusively occupies the 1st through 4th floors of Marunouchi Oazo, a newly opened shopping hub. It stocks a large variety of English books, including business, politics, history, fiction and nonfiction, children books and much more. Since it is conveniently connected to Tokyo Station directly through an underground pathway, it can be a perfect spot to spend hours exploring the shelves stacked with thousands of English books on a rainy day. You can also get some other useful items such as stationeries at the shop. On the top floor there is a cozy café called M&C Café where you can enjoy a light meal and a drink, there is also a small art gallery which a changing exhibition.
9am – 9pm
3. Infinity Books & Event Space
Infinity Books & Event Space is a classic book store nestled in Sumida-ku, Tokyo. They offer thousands of English books, new and second-hand, some rare books and even out of print ones that can be found only here. Once you enter the shop, you will immediately find yourself surrounded by countless fully packed shelves that almost reach the ceiling. They also offer a convenient online service which allows you to buy and sell books on their website from anywhere in the world. The bookstore holds events every month and offer the event space free of charge to anyone who wants to host an event.
Infinity Books and Event Space
1pm – 8pm (Tuesday – Saturday)
1pm – 6pm (Sunday)
4. Daikanyama Tsutaya Books
Located in Daikanyama’s popular T-site, Tsutaya Books offers more than a just a relaxing reading experience. It comprises three separate buildings which together feature a range of facilities such as bookstore, stationery store, a library with a luxury lounge, a Starbucks, a travel desk and more. All books are classified and arranged by categories, including art, architecture and design, cuisine, and travel. It also boasts one of the most satisfying selections of Western books and vintage titles along with world-famous magazines. Head to the video department where you can encounter great classic movie titles which were previously unavailable as DVDs. Spend a peaceful time at Anjin Library & Lounge while surrounded by thousands of vintage magazines, or grab a coffee at Starbucks!
Daikanyama Tsutaya Books
5. Aoyama Book Center
The Aoyama area is widely known as a modern, luxury shopping district with a number of fashionable boutiques and great shops. Tucked away behind the UN University, Aoyama Book Center is a perfect spot for those who want to spend a few hours browsing through shelves. Although most of the books are in Japanese, they carry also a selection of English books and international magazines. They also specialize in dealing with book about art, photography, design, illustration and architecture. A heaven for art lovers and book lovers alike.
Aoyama Book Center
10am – 10pm
Nestled in Ebisu, a buzzing area in Shibuya-ku, POST offers a unique, unforgettable bookstore experience for everyone. They change the selection of books regularly (every 2-3 months), and each time feature one publishing company exclusively. Most international publishers carried are dedicated to the field of art, design, photography and architecture. It makes them an exciting spot to encounter new titles every time you visit. It also helps you get to know different categories of books deeply and broaden your knowledge expansively. Online store is also available where you can enjoy free shipping with a purchase over ¥5,000.
11am – 7pm
(※Closed on Mondays)
7. COW BOOKS
Some 10 minutes on foot from Nakameguro Station you will find COW BOOKS. This lovely, cozy bookstore is located along the Meguro river, a river best known as one of the most popular sakura viewing spots in Tokyo. It was opened in 2002 by Yataro Matsuura, an editor of a famous travel magazine “Tabi no Techo”. They specialize in selling out of print books from the late 60’s to the middle 70’s. Well selected titles include novels, art books, poetry, magazines, children books, and more. They also have original merchandise such as fashionable T-shirts and caps that you can get both in the store and online.
12pm – 8pm
8. Ogawa Tosho
Jimbocho is an area in the northern side of Tokyo within 23 wards and known for two things: ski shops and bookstores. Ogasawara Toksho is a must-visit for bookworms who are looking for a great English bookstore around Tokyo station. It is located in the north of Tokyo Imperial Palace, a beautiful historic spot that attracts numerous visitors from around the world. They carry a large selection of Western literature as well as rare titles and classic foreign magazines. You need to make an appointment by email or phone in advance to enjoy in-store shopping or if you can’t go to the store, online shopping is also available.
11am – 6pm
9. Kitazawa Bookstore
Kitazawa Bookstore is bookstore located in the Kanda Jimbocho area known as a book heaven in Tokyo with a great number of bookstores. With a history of over 110 years, Kitazawa Bookstore has dedicated itself to sell a wide range of English titles imported from other countries with a focus on English literature. Browse through the array of countless numbers of shelves stacked with approximately 12,000 second-hand (academic) books. Here you can find some treasures that you can hardly find anywhere else. On the 1st floor you can find a selection of children books and a cozy café. It is a perfect spot to get great books for kids as their first reading experience in easy Japanese with helpful pictures!
11am – 6:30pm (weekdays)
12pm – 5:30pm (Saturday)
10. Main Tent
Regardless of age, anyone can be a great reader as long as they have a love of books. Main Tent is a children’s bookstore that will have your children fall in love with books. They specialize in selling a variety of second-hand children books written in multilingual, including Japanese, English, German and more. As you enter the shop, you will be welcomed by adorable stuffed animals and cute décor which enables you and your kids to spend hours there comfortably. Online shopping is also available but we recommend to make your way to the shop. Main Tent is located in Kichijoji, a popular area in West-Tokyo with many trendy shops and cafes.
10.30am – 5pm (weekdays)
10.30am – 7pm (weekends)
Tokyo has no shortage of bookstores and you can easily spend hours looking for your new favourite books. While online shopping is getting popular, nothing beat visiting an actual bookstore. Browsing through the books shelves and finding your treasures is an exciting experience that you can’t get online. Enjoy each of the above mentioned stores and choose the best title that you will bring back home and put on your bookshelf!
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Miho Shimizu is a Japanese freelance writer settled in Shizuoka with her husband and two rabbits. Fascinated with travelling at the age of 18, she has spent most of her long holidays exploring incredible spots around Japan. Also love to listen to music, draw, and read novels over a cup of green tea.
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