Exploring a Neighborhood of Books in Jimobocho, Tokyo, Japan
One of the densest concentrations of books (and readers) in the world, Jimbocho Book Town is home to major publishing houses, over 150 mom-and-pop bookstores, a handful of superstores like Sanseido and Shosen, and a swarm of students from nearby universities. Far from the neon canyons, this part of Tokyo feels homey and low rise. The bookstores line both sides of Yasukuni-dori for several blocks, spilling over into alleys and side streets, and tend to specialize by genre. Visitors with limited Japanese flock to Kitazawa which has an interesting selection of foreign language books or to the many stores that specialize in manga, graphic novels, pop culture ephemera, and memorabilia like Yaguchi Shoten or Nakano. Even if you are daunted by kanji or terrified to touch first editions that cost thousands of dollars, it's hard to resist the movie posters, anime cels, plastic robots, figurines, plushies, monster masks, and other toys that line the shelves. Tucked in between stores, in alleys, and even behind the stacks are diner-like restaurants dishing up Japanese comfort food like curry, tempura, tonkatsu, and soba.