Friday, June 10, 2011

Books in Japan


{Yes, that is mine. Don't judge.}

Books (and coffee) are things that never fail to make me truly happy. Browsing around book shops for hours and sipping on coffee is pretty much perfection to me. And I love that feeling of picking up a book and not being able to put it down, and if I have to go to work, think about returning to my book all day. Or am I just a nerd?

In Japan, access to a wide selection of English books is well, not very accessible. Thankfully us expats can easily order from amazon.jp, but unfortunately they tend to ship by pigeon, and really, buying books online does not even compare with having a lovely afternoon browse at the actual book shop. Japanese books are all so colourful and beautifully designed, I really hope I will soon be able to read some of them. I love looking at them regardless.

Thankfully, one of the many perks of living in a big city is the presence of massive book stores that carry a sizeable English section. My favourite book shop in Osaka is Books Kinokuniya, located right inside Umeda station, near the Hankyu tracks. In Tokyo, I think the English section at Tower Records in Shibuya is quite impressive. In Kyoto, I highly recommend stopping by Green e Books, which carry an interesting collection of used books, for very cheap. Thanks to my friend Julie for showing me this treasure! And er, if you live in rural Japan, make sure you stock up on books when you visit big cities, or explore your town for used bookstores and libraries that may or may not carry English books. You never know! Even in dear little Marugame, the public library carried a few English books.

Also, amongst the foreigner communities all over Japan, book exchange is very popular- people come and leave all the time, books are left behind and passed around, and friends are usually willing to share their recently read gems.

This evening I stopped by the book shop in Umeda and ended up browsing for such a long time, and stocking up on a few treats for the upcoming rainy weekend. Thanks to books and thanks to the most sugary coffee drink I could find for making the end of this week quite memorable.

Current obsession: Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood. If only I could read the original Japanese version...

10 comments:

Principessa said...

I don't know if you're a purist or not but how about a Kindle?

Vivian said...

Ah, it sounds good, but I'm really too old-fashioned. Part of my love for books is the actual act of turning the pages and smelling the paper. Sigh.

But many of my friends here use that and they love it! Thanks for the suggestion :)

Dorien said...

I know completely how you feel. I'm also very addicted to books in Japan.... When I was in Japan, i bought so many Japanese books that I never read actually :) But 3 weeks ago I decided to read Norwegian wood, and it's so perfect! The way Murakami is writing the things around him... You really should try to read it in Japanese! Good luck!! :)

By the way I love your blog! Following it since one or two months! My friend also lives in Osaka! Enjoy the Japanese way of life. Xxxx





Check my blog at
gatetojapan.blogspot.com!

pmak said...

I commented a while back.... Great post. If you haven't already read Murakami's "What I talk about when I talk about running", it is worth it. I read it this past winter while I was training for my first 1/2 marathon. It definitely inspired me to enjoy running even more. :-) Sharing books with friends is a lot of fun too. Paula

Vivian said...

Thank you, Pmak and Dorien!

valerie said...

I have kafka on the shore and norwegian wood..let me know what you think..when u finish it

Michi said...

Mmmmmm, I share your love of books! I'm finally moving to the city this summer and am INCREDIBLY excited about finally being able to browse bookstores with English sections. :) Bye-bye provincial life, hello city and books and exciting new surroundings!

Vivian said...

Michi- congrats on your move to the city! New adventures!! And thanks, always, for your amazing comments :)

Agga said...

I adore the guide to elegance it's on my bookshelf too!!! I'm also very torn about getting an ereader due to my love of the smell and feel of an acutal book. Lets not forger the art that goes into some of the covers.
The other books I just picked up is http://www.amazon.ca/Parisian-Chic-Style-Guide-Fressange/dp/2080200739 and http://www.debraollivier.com/whatfrenchwomenknow.html

They are full greatness. Take care

Sarah said...

Norwegian Wood! Love, love. Have you seen the movie? It came out in Paris for like two weeks and now it's gone : ( When I was living in Japan I managed to make it to a Kinokuniya English book sale and got so many books for SO cheap, it was amazing. There are a couple used bookstores selling English books too in Tokyo (or at least there were two years ago when I was there). Coffee and bookshops are some of my favorite things too, I adore sitting in coffeeshops reading good books! Especially on rainy days.