Yesterday I went into the city with my mom for the day as she had found a Japanese book store and as I love Japan, the culture and am learning the language in university, we decided to go and check it out and tag on a bunch of other stuff too and it was absolutely an incredible day! It was a day filled with culture and books!
Our first stop was Muji（無地良品）which was a Japanese convenience store. It sold everything that someone would need in their house and it was absolutely fantastic! Almost all of the stuff in the store was made in Japan and it was honestly so organized and some of the products there were so useful. They had everything from clothing to bits of food to cooking wear to writing good and more. The store was really well set out, smelt soooo good and I felt like I had actually traveled to Japan while within the store. It had this detached feel about it because it was so calm compared to the hustle and bustle of NYC and it was refreshing and a fantastic experience. I know that I’ll definitely be going back. It’s located right within the New York Times Building.
The New York Times Building 620 8th Avenue (40th st.) New York, NY 10018 Tel 212.382.2300
Store Hours Mon – Sat 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Next, we headed to the New York main store of Kinokuniya Book Store which was the main reason of our visit and to say that I had a fantastic time would be an understatement. It was amazing!!!
It’s set on three levels, the level you walking in on being a regular book store with a Japanese edge, such as Japanese cook books, books pertaining to Japan and other bits and pieces, but a lot of the books were traditional books you’d find in a book store. But they also had some cool stands too. There were also little bits and pieces such as Japanese toys and little action figures.
On the next floor was all the manga and it was actually really cool. I had never seen so much manga in one place except in anime’s and seeing all of this was kinda neat. すごい (awesome)!! I’m not into manga per se but I do appreciate seeing it all and having the experience and it was really awesome to see so many people looking at it and buying it. It did have a feel of being in Japan once again because of the types of people shopping there (a lot of Japanese people, and Asians in general as well) and also there was a small cafe in the corner selling traditional Japanese food like sushi and whatnot.
Then when you went to the bottom floor, there were lots of gift things and writing utensils, such as calligraphy sets for writing in Japanese and magazines too on one half.
Then the second half of the bottom floor was Japanese books. They were books that were written in Japanese and dedicated just to people who could read Japanese and it was honestly so cool. I could only read a little bit of what were there but was able to get my English-Japanese/Japanese-English Dictionary (which I needed) and I found some fantastic books in the ‘learn Japanese’ section. They even had a teach yourself Japanese book that was manga style, so the book was accompanied by manga drawings. Definitely a fun way to learn the language!
I absolutely loved this book store and would go back for fun gifts as well as books later on and I do highly recommend checking it out as, while it does have books and is a book store, it is an amazing experience!
1073 Avenue of the America (bet 40th & 41st St.) New York, NY 10018 Tel 212.869.1700
Store Hours Mon-Sat 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Sun 11:00AM – 7:30PM
After that, we were of course hungry, and so it was time to grab a bite to eat. We had previously decided that we were going to go and get ramen, try traditional ramen, and we had to find somewhere that did it. I had done some searching but I figured that we’d find somewhere once in the city as the area we were in had tons of Japanese food places. A lot of them were for sushi, but we found a small Japanese ramen place which had good reviews so we headed over. The place we found was called Tabata 2 (it is the smaller of the two restaurants which are only blocks apart). The outside was so basic that I was questioning whether to actually go in. It had a tiny entrance and it wasn’t that fancy.
But we headed in and boy was I happy that we did. My mum and I both got ramen and it was fantastic. The food was incredible, the place was small, but it was so worth it. It had a lively atmosphere, the people who worked there were friendly, and the service was really good as well. My first bowl of traditional ramen was the best!
557 8th Ave
New York, NY 10018
Hours 11:30am – 11:00pm
After that we headed to the New York Public Library to have a look around. On the way they have something called Library Walk which is a bunch of plaques (if you are walking towards the direct front of the library from one block away) that have book quotes and just general quotes on them with incredible engravings. There are tons of them on both sides of the street and people stop to read them, pausing and taking a moment to reflect.
Then, you get to the front of the library, which is extremely grand and beautiful!
Inside, they had their Christmas tree still up and it was absolutely beautiful. It looked so real (I’m not sure if it was or not) but they had made it also look like it was covered in snow and it was gorgeous!
The main room which we came to visit, the Rose Reading Room, was unfortunately closed for renovations but we walked around and were able to seem some of the incredible art work that makes up the ceilings.
In the gift shop, they sold these amazingly cute necklaces (which I would buy as a gift for a book lover) and they were literally little books on a chain and were hand bound! I mean how cool, and creative, is that?!?!
Then, after that I was dying for a cup of tea because the ramen was kind of salty due to the soy sauce, and so we decided that it was time for tea, which is lots of fun. I found a small tea place around the back of the library, across from Bryant Park, called Maison Kayser. It was a Parisian little cafe and it was absolutely adorable and quaint and I loved it. The food was incredible, the atmosphere was great, and the place was beautiful. The best part is that everything is baked in-house and is all fresh! Which made it all the more yummier.
8 West 40th Street (at Bryant Park) New York, NY 10018 Tel 212.354.2300
Hours Mon-Fri 6:30 am – 7:30 pm Sat-Sun 8:00 am – 7:30 pm
To sum up, it was a fantastic day of many different cultures (from Japan to America (the library) to Paris as well), lots of yummy food, and of course, the best part, books! I do recommend checking all of these places out if you are in the NYC area any time soon because they are amazing and definitely worth a check out. It wasn’t terribly expensive but still the quality of everything was fantastic. And the best part is, is that it was all quite close to each other and easy to do.
NYC is definitely a place everyone needs to visit. I mean who doesn’t love a place with so many cultures and lots of book places too?!
My library does this great thing that, depending on the season or holiday, they do bookshelves with a theme. Right now it is “warm up with winter reads” as it is cold outside. The books are summer books but books about winter. It’s a great place to find something with a theme. They’ve even done color themes. Books with a color as the title or the book is just that color. It’s fun, creative and gets me looking.