Mari Goes Elsewhere · thinking out loud

Book House / Kitazawa Bookstore

Recently I was in Tokyo for the first time in about seven months, and I was shocked to find that one of my favourite bookstores, Book House (which I’ve written about here and here), had closed down. I was checking their site to see if I could make it there before closing, and found out that the site was no longer up. We (me, and my friends Kishiko and Iman) found out that Book House was closed, but because Kitazawa Shoten (another of my favourite bookstores) is on the second floor of Book House, we decided to go anyway.

I had assumed that because it was closed, we would have to use the side entrance to Kitazawa Shoten, but the main door to Book House was open, so we could go up the usual entrance. In front of the Book House, one of the Book House booksellers was selling Cheburashka plush toys and other merchandise on sale. She told us that Book House would reopen as Book House Cafe in May, which is a huge relief to me because at least they won’t be gone completely. (A huge thank you to the Jimbocho booksellers who protested against Book Off taking over the lot!) Still, I was hoping to get a couple of the translated Diana Wynne Jones books (they’re illustrated by Satake Miho), so I was pretty crushed. And as we were walking up to Kitazawa Shoten, it was really sad to see the Book House shelves so empty.


Those seats used to have characters (plush toys) from various picture books sitting on them, and gorgeous picture books highlighted all around.


Here is a photo of Book House from when I went last August, which I didn’t blog about:

Kitazawa Shoten is as delightful as always. They had a few baskets of picture books (in both English and Japanese) on sale, presumably from Book House. Usually when I visit I would just raid their Old Puffins shelf, but this time I took my time to browse and found out that they had two whole shelves dedicated to the study of children’s literature. Volumes of Beatrix Potter’s letters, biographies of Walter de la Mare and other favourites, a couple of old anthologies from The Horn Book… the list goes on and on. I wanted everything. They were a lot pricier than the Puffins, though, so I guess I’ll save up for my next trip there. I’ve got my heart set on this four volume set of British folklore. And a small compilation of Welsh myth. And a book on Louise Fitzhugh. And… er, I guess I’ll be planning many, many more trips to Kitazawa Shoten in the (far) future.

These are the books I ended up getting on this trip:


Anyway, Book House Cafe will be opening in a couple of weeks, so if you’re in Tokyo do head over to Jimbocho and pay a visit! It’s just a couple of minutes away from Jimbocho Station (Exit A1) 🙂



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