by Danielle Rippingale

Did you know that there are free books and magazines waiting to be read all over Tokyo? Indeed public libraries in every Tokyo ward are well stocked with foreign book sections in English as well as other languages, such as French and German. Unfortunately, these library resources are also highly under-utilized by the foreign com­munity. By becoming a member of your community library you will not only save money and environmental resources but also ensure this vital community resource continues to operate freely for the benefit of all.

Unfortunately, these library resources are also
highly under-utilized by the foreign community.

To get your library card, simply present your Foreign Registration Card to one of your ward libraries, fill out the form (name, address, and signature) and get your library card issued on the spot. You are now free to enjoy foreign adult and children’s books, CDs, and DVDs at no charge. As well as books, many of the libraries also carry magazines including The New Yorker, Marie Claire, TIME, and National Geographic, which are available for borrowing (except for the latest issue) and newspapers such as the International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, and The Japan Times (in-library read­ing only).

Looking for more room on your bookshelf? Don’t let your used books go to waste—contact your local library. They would welcome the donation.

Most libraries have an online reservation system where you can search for books (and see new books). However, this may be in Jap­anese. If this is a problem, ask if the librarian can walk you through the steps to reserve from the foreign book section, where books will be listed in English. Books can be requested for pick-up and drop-off at various library locations in your area. Books can be bor­rowed for two weeks, although they can be renewed online as well.

To locate the libraries and services in your ward visit these English websites:

Eco-Fact: In Japan, it takes one-and-a-half nuclear power plants to run the five-and-a-half million vending machines that dot nearly every street corner.
Voluntary Simplicity: Simple living is not about living in poverty or self-inflicted deprivation. Rather, it is about living an examined life—one in which you have determined what is important, or ‘enough,’ for you and discarding the rest.