I am finally back from my study abroad experience in Tokyo, Japan so it’s time to hit the ground running again! Of course, while I was abroad, I had to visit bookstores, because it’s just what I do.
I wrote a blog post a while back about “50 Must-Visit Beautiful Bookstores on Six Continents” which was originally compiled by BookRiot. In that list they had the bookstore Kitazawa and after a little bit of research, I found that it was just a 30 minute train ride from where I was studying. So, naturally, I went to visit as I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.
The bookstore was definitely an experience to visit.
First of all, it was in a used bookstore district. All of the stores on that side of the street were for used bookstores so it was such a wonderful street.
The first thing you saw on the way into the bookstore was this gorgeous display outside. I really loved the contrast between the blue books and the yellow flowers. It was really eye catching.
Heading inside, it was a nice entrance way so you knew that you had to expect something exciting!
And the door to the bookstore was beautiful. A nice, rich red. It had such an inviting look. Also the bookstore door was glass, which was different. You were able to clearly see inside as to what to expect.
Walking in you saw so many books! Unlike Pickwick, which was chaos but in a wonderful way, this bookstore was incredibly neat, down to the smallest thing.
You can clearly see how neatly it was all set up. Instead of having the discount books in piles, they were on rolling carts and even those that were on the floor were clearly stacked and in specific sections. It wasn’t messy at all.
Even their desk for checking out was covered in books all over the place! There was a slight disorganization because of just how many books that there were, and how many books that were waiting to be put out. But it was calming and you were easily able to browse around.
There was also a side of the room that had old bookshelves and really old books that were not for sale. They were just part of the ambiance of the shop.
The store was not busy at all. While I was there, there was only one other person in the store, and maybe one was coming in on the way out. So I’m honestly not sure how they survive as a bookstore. Of course some of their books were incredibly expensive.
An example was this book. You can just see how bit it was. It was massive! And this book would be an incredible table piece of something to show off in your home. But it was over $200 and there were many others similar, or old, that were of a comparable price. So I’m guessing when they sell a few of those, and since it’s a small bookstore, they do well.
Overall, this bookstore was amazing. I am so glad that I found time to go and visit the bookstore while I was in Tokyo. Who knows when i will be back next and I had to visit somewhere that BookRiot had said was good!
So for my spring vacation I headed off to Europe, specifically the U.K. and Poland, for some family matters however, while I’m so used to going there, this time I looked out for book related stuff. Because you know..book! <3
So near my little house by Manchester Airport, is a Waterstone’s in Wilmslow which is so adorable and very modern!
I love visiting Waterstone’s and seeing all of the absolutely beautiful books, wonderfully organized displays, and it’s all so perfect there. Of course, I do love bookstores that are cluttered and smaller as well as they ave a more home-like feel, however Waterstone’s is very European and it’s know for being so precise.
Additionally, England has this store called John Lewis. It’s kind of like a Lord and Taylor in America or an up-market clothing store, however they also sell things from furniture to cups, wallpaper and more! One thing they sell is this beautiful mug. It says “HURRAY! TIME FOR HOT CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOWS AND A GOOD BOOK.” You can purchase it here. I’m hoping to get it soon as it’s really big and so perfect!
And what’s better than after shopping at Marks and Spencer (another clothing place) than going for tea and coffee and other yummy treats?
Finally, when in Poland I stayed at the Hotel Na Polboru, which is a beautiful hotel outside of Sieradz, Poland. I do recommend checking it out if you ever are in that area. the food is fantastic. They also have this bookcase there, which I am assuming, you can borrow books from to go and read. Either way, it was a nice focal point.
Also, there was a small bookstore in a shopping mall that had a nice selection of books. It was quite interesting to see all of your favorite book covers in other languages!
And finally, my small home in the U.K. has a room stuffed with books which is always so much fun to go and pursue through. I always seem to find something new. My goal next time I’m there is to go through them all! And also reorganize as it’s a little messy xD
Overall, while there are many similarities between book shops in the U.S. and around the world, there are subtle changes that make each countries book niche unique.
When I head off to Japan this summer, I’m going to be stopping by one of the most famous book shops in Japan (which is just around the corner from where I will be staying), so that will be such an experience. I’ll also be trying to find other shops that sell books and hope to, over time, see many book places around the world and see how ever shop is unique.
(Question of the day) QOTD: What’s the most interesting book place you have visited, and why?
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?!