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Jimbocho Tokyo - The book street of Tokyo.

In the hustle flow and never-ending bustle of a busy city, discover a place where there are countless bookshelves and pages which are moving lightly. Tokyo is a city famous for its distinctively different towns: Harajuku is said to be home to fashion and pop culture, or if you want to find the richness of electronics and anime. you will think of Akihabara. However, when mentioning to all things relating to literature, there is no better place than Jimbocho (Jimbocho Tokyo), the book town of Tokyo.

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Image by: Jimbocho Tokyo blog.
Jimbocho, the book street of Tokyo

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In Jimbocho, there are about 160 to 200 bookstores. Although there are many new stores and stores, most bookstores in the area specialize in their favorite books and old books. The town also has the Literary Preservation Association and the Tokyo Book Club, as well as numerous universities, publishers, and libraries, making it an ideal place for a reading book in Tokyo.

Jimbocho Book Hunting
Jimbocho Book Hunting
A shopper browses art books at a store selling used volumes in Tokyo's Jinbocho neighborhood.
A shopper browses art books at a store selling used volumes in Tokyo’s Jinbocho neighborhood.

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History of Jimbocho Tokyo


Of course, an area is known for its ancient books and old books, so it has plenty of historical anecdotes to tell. Jimbocho is named after Nagaharu Jimbo, a Samurai from the 17th century. The town with many bookstores here experienced a major fire in 1913. After that tragedy, university professor Iwanami Shigeo, he opened a bookstore that has grown into the famous Iwanami Shoten until now.

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One of the shops where they were selling some cheap Japanese art prints.
One of the shops where they were selling some cheap Japanese art prints.

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Since, the town has developed into a popular area among intellectuals and reading enthusiasts, with countless bookstores and coffee shops opening to accommodate the growing popularity of this area. Nihon, Senshu, Meiji and Hosei universities, all are located near the main shopping street, it is no wonder that Jimbocho has grown into a fantasy land for reading enthusiasts.

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Transport: How to get to Jimbocho Tokyo?

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Like many of Tokyo’s famous shopping malls, it’s very easy to get to Jimbocho. Although there are many stations and bus stops around there, the best option is Jimbocho Station. You only take an 11-minute train ride from Shinjuku, Jimbocho Station is located above Yasukuni-Dori Street, in the center of the book district

Most of the regional bookstores are located south of the station, along Yasukuni-Dori Street, and the streets run parallel to it.

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The station is considered to be in the center, which means that the bookstores are only separated by a short distance. To get the Jimbocho Station, you can catch the Mita, Shinjuku, and Hanzomon routes.

Where to buy books?

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If your Japanese is so good, you will not have trouble finding the bookstores that meet your needs.

On the other hand, if you are not confident in your ability to analyze Murakami’s latest novel in its original Han form, there are friendly foreign-language bookstores are all things you should look for. Luckily, Jimbocho is equipped with a lot of convenience stores for English speakers.

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When searching for foreign books, try searching for kanji: 洋 書, pronounced “yosho”, meaning “foreign” or “western” books, and they will surely come to your hand after you spend some time hunting.

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Image by: Jimbocho Tokyo blog.

Jimbocho has dozens of beautiful, dusty and old-fashioned bookshops for Japanese speakers only. And even if you can not speak Japanese, the article still wants to suggest you some names, because they are really beautiful. Here is a small list of shops suitable for foreigners.

Kitazawa bookstore (北 沢 書店)

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The holy place for English books related to humanity and social sciences. Kitazawa specializes in illustrated books and books on history, linguistics, and literature, and has a vast array of rare and paperback texts.

Location: 2-5 Jimbocho Kanda, Chiyoda-ku
Opening hours: Weekdays 11:00~18:30, Saturday 12:00~17:30
Closed: Sundays & Holidays

Komiyama Bookstore (株式会社 小 宮 山 書店)

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A place is worth looking at for contemporary art lovers and photographers. The store also specializes in magazines and books related to design, fashion, culture, and history. Address: 1-7 Kanda Jinbocho, Chiyoda District

Location: 1-7 Kanda Jinbocho, Chiyoda District
Opening hours: Daily from 11 am to 06:30 pm

Sanseido Bookstore (三省 堂 書店)

Sanseido book store Image by: Jimbocho Tokyo blog.
Image by: Jimbocho Tokyo blog.

It is so great if you are looking for Japanese language books. Although the store has a large size of 5 floors, only a small area is reserved for English.

Location: 1-1 Kanda Jinbocho, Chiyoda
Opening hours: 10:00~20:00, with exception during New Year’s holiday

The Isseido Bookstore (一誠堂書店)

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If you have only one choice, go to Isseido. Located on the east side of Yasukuni-Dori Street, close to Jimbocho Station, the bookstore has two floors with polished and quiet wooden shelves that make you feel astonished at the moment you step into the store. The second floor is home to some of the most foreign books, and one other is for old and rare books. Address: 1-17 Kanda Jinbocho, Chiyoda.

Location: 1-7 Jimbocho Kanda, Chiyoda-ku
Opening hours: Monday through Saturday 10:00~18:30, Holidays 10:30~18:00

Finish the day with a delicious cup of coffee

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If hunting for books makes you feel hungry, don’t worry, Jimbocho can meet your eating needs as well as sipping your coffee. The area has many restaurants and coffee shops, from regular restaurants to independent stores (such as Curry Bondy, about 50 meters from Jimbocho Station).

Paper Black Cafe, Jimbocho
Paper Black Cafe, Jimbocho

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However, if you are looking for places to hang out for a reading enthusiast, there is no need to look beyond Paperback Café, a perfect combination of a bookstore and a coffee shop. Paperback Café has been remarked in Top 5 coffee shops in Tokyo for book lovers and is a great place to relax, take a bite to eat and enjoy any literary dishes you have found.

Jimbocho Book Hunting

For a more relaxing time, go straight to Sabouru which is located the front of Jimbocho Station exit 7. With a history of over 60 years, this café is a popular tourist attraction in the area – and we can’t stop to think that many of the famous writers have also enjoyed cups of coffee here, just read and write on your work.

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