Jimbocho: The Best Destination for Book Lovers in Tokyo

Books To do in Tokyo
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Writer’s profile

Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education in Japan and got her Master’s degree in March 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.

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Books have always been a wonderful source of knowledge and inspiration in our lives. Recently, digitalized books have become popular because they are less bulky, and we now have fewer opportunities to touch the paper itself, but the unique feel of touching a paper book can never be experienced with a digitalized book. 

Jimbocho in Tokyo is a town where such paper books gather. Located in the heart of Tokyo, Jimbocho is the dream destination for those who love books, and bibliophiles everywhere can rejoice. In this article, we will take a closer look at Jimbocho, the holy land of paper books.

1. Where is Jimbocho?

Jimbocho Station is very easily accessible by metro

Jimbocho is located in Chiyoda Ward, is widely known as a town of books, and is said to be the largest used bookstore district in the world. Because of the large number of antiquarian books, the entire town is enveloped in a retro atmosphere, and many coffee shops and cafes line the streets. 

You can relax in a café while reading an antiquarian book. If you find a book you want or a store you are interested in, we recommend you visit this site below. Currently, the site covers everything from searching for used bookstores in Jimbocho to searching for used books sold there, so before you go to Jimbocho, get your information in advance!

JINBOU – BOOK TOWN

2. History of Jimbocho

Jimbocho is where many rare book collectors go to find hidden gems

Originally, many universities were located in Jimbocho. As a result, restaurants, and bookstores were opened around the universities for students and teachers. In particular, since many universities opened law schools during the Meiji period, many bookstores and antiquarian bookstores dealing with law-related books and other books opened in the area. 

It is said that this process established the foundation of the Jimbocho area as an antiquarian bookstore district. Although the area was burnt to the ground after World War II, it is said to have developed into today’s Jimbocho as “a town of bookstores, “mainly due to used bookstores that escaped air raids.

3. The best bookshops in Jimbocho

Jimbocho has an endless slew of books about any topic you can imagine

Jimbocho has bookstores and used bookstores everywhere, and we would like to introduce four of the best bookstores in this area.

 Kitazawa Bookstore

Kitazawa Bookstore is one of the oldest bookstores in Jimbocho, having been in business for over 115 years. Known as a store specializing in Western books, it has a large selection of old Western books, which attracts many customers. The company also offers attractive interior design proposals using old books and is involved in store interiors, exhibitions, stage sets, and other interior design projects.

Official Website: Kitazawa Bookstore

Ogawa Tosho

Along with Kitazawa Bookstore, Ogawa Tosho is also a well-known Western bookstore. Ogawa Tosho offers a wide range of Western books, especially in the fields of literature and language, such as English literature, history of English literature, and dictionaries. Reservations are required if you want to visit the bookstore, so please inquire in advance before visiting.

Official Website: Ogawa Tosho

Isseido Bookstore

If you are looking for books on Japan, Isseido Bookstore is the right place for you, boasting a history of over 110 years and offering a wide variety of books on Japan, including Japanese literature, Japanese poetry, ethnic books, and history books. The official website also includes an online shopping site, allowing customers to purchase books without having to visit the store.

Official Website: Isseido Bookstore

Magnif

A bookstore with a pop color scheme based on yellow is Magnif. This bookstore specializes in magazines and boasts a particularly strong selection of fashion magazines. It sells many international fashion magazines and is recommended for those who are interested in or researching international fashion.

Official Website: Magnif

4. The best cafes in Jimbocho

It’s hard to go wrong with a good book and a hot cup of coffee.

If you want to take a break while reading a book, a café and coffee shop are your place to go. There are many cafes and coffee shops in Jimbocho for those who want to relax and read a book. In this issue, we will introduce five recommended cafes and coffee shops in Jimbocho.

Sabouru 

Sabouru is a long-established coffee shop with a history of over 60 years in Jimbocho. The interior is decorated with wooden ornaments and various knick-knacks that look like they could be found in a tropical country, creating a unique atmosphere there. The recommended menu item here is the ever-popular pizza toast. Pizza sauce is spread on a thick slice of bread, which is then topped with melted cheese.

Official Website: Sabouru

Book House Cafe

If you want to enjoy books with your children while taking a break at a cafe, try Book House Cafe. There are many children’s books on display in the store, and a cafe corner is set up in the middle of the store. There is a wide variety of children’s books from kindergarten to upper elementary school age.

Official Website: Book House Cafe

Bumpodo Gallery Cafe

A gallery space & cafe on the third floor of Bumpodo, this cafe is attached to a long-established art supply store. In the gallery space, various exhibitions are held, allowing visitors to appreciate art. In the café corner, visitors can enjoy delicious coffee and cakes in a retro Western-style atmosphere.

Official Website: Bumpodo Gallery Cafe

Ladrio

Ladrio is famous as the oldest coffee shop in Jimbocho and is a hideaway coffee shop in a narrow alleyway. Over 70 years old, with chanson music playing as background music in the store, the café has a warm, old-fashioned atmosphere. The recommended menu item is “Wiener Coffee,” and this store is also known as the birthplace of Wiener Coffee in Japan. The coffee is topped with gently sweetened whipped cream for a relaxing taste.

GLITCH COFFEE & ROASTERS

GLITCH COFFEE & ROASTERS is a brightly lit cafe where the owner serves the best coffee. The owner is very particular about serving only his favorite roasted coffees (mainly shallow roasted coffee beans), not any blended coffees. There are many kinds of jars of coffee beans in the store, and the owner is very proud to offer freshly ground coffee to you.

Official Website: GLITCH COFFEE & ROASTERS

We have featured Jimbocho, where paper books are always piled up, but are there any bookstores or cafes that you would like to visit? Whether it is to savor a cafe surrounded by books, spend a luxurious moment in a good old-fashioned coffee shop, or find specialized books that are not sold in ordinary bookstores, Jimbocho has been loved by many Japanese people for many years.

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