At the top of Kanda-Suzuran-Dori, a street lined with quaint cafés and cozy eateries, sits Magnif. Aptly nicknamed ‘Zinebocho,’ it stands out with its vibrant yellow storefront, a precursor to the pop-colored zines that lie within. If retro magazines, specifically fashion themed, get your inner bookworm excited, block out a considerable amount of time to peruse the fully stocked shelves. You can expect vintage copies of titles such as Vogue, Esquire, and Bazaar, among other classic publications.
You’ll also find a selection of vintage photobooks which never look out of place on a coffee table. What this small bookstore lacks in size, it more than makes up for in its chronological catalog of Japanese fashion magazines throughout the ages. A must-visit destination for anyone interested in delving into the history of fashion and art and design.
As one of only a few bookshops in the area featuring distinctive outdoor shelves full of books, At Wonder (stylized as @Wonder) is well worth a visit for that reason alone. If you can pry yourself away from the spectacularly ‘novel,’ yet somewhat practical streetside shelves, you’ll find a large selection of Japanese and foreign Marvel comics as soon as you step through the front entrance. Whether you consider yourself a Marvel superfan or not, the sheer volume of them is an impressive sight, to say the least.
Wander further to the back of the store and you’ll be met with a large collection of movie posters and memorabilia including limited edition items and ticket stubs. Upstairs you’ll find a cute café where you can contemplate the number of books you’ve just bought while sipping a warm cup of Japan’s finest.
Venture further down the main road in Kanda Jimbocho and you’ll come across Kitazawa Bookstore — a goldmine of rare academic books and foreign literature. While it used to occupy both the first and second floors of the building, you now have to climb up a set of winding stairs to find its entrance. Step through the doorway and you’re greeted by a dimly lit room, packed from floor to ceiling with nonfiction books from all across the world.
For those interested in something a little more familiar, it also stocks a considerable number of Penguin classics. From the familiar library-style atmosphere to the homely ambiance of the shop, it truly feels like you’ve stumbled across a classic academia fan’s dream destination.
Japan is known for its classic movies, and this century-old bookshop proves it. Founded in 1918, and relocated to its current location in 1934, Yaguchi Shoten is perhaps most famous for its collection related to film and theater, though performing arts and other cultural books also grace its shelves. Yaguchi’s collection isn’t just limited to books either. Expect to find film scripts, old photos, leaflets, posters and anything else that references stage performances or TV that ran on Japan’s screens many years ago.
Yaguchi Shoten, with its ever-famous open-air bookshelves, is the place to add to your Jimbocho hitlist if you fancy walking through a timeline of Japan’s performing arts history.
Heading back to Kanda-Suzuran-Dori, we find Bohemians Guild. It’s a place made all the better by the warm glow of ceiling lights, a great way to distance yourself from the outside, and the sometimes-overwhelming noise of a city like Tokyo. Unlike many of the shops in Jimbocho, the 98-year-old (and counting) Bohemians Guild has an abundance of books specializing in almost every aspect of art and design, as well as philosophy, architecture and even contemporary art. Expect first editions, signed works and more full-page photography books than your wallet and coffee table can handle.
More Bookish Content
Paper is very much alive in Japan and Tokyo is one of the best places to get your hands on limited-edition zines, special issues of big-name magazines and more: