10 most beautiful bookstores and libraries in Japan

From the likes of the likes of Kengo Kuma and Tadao Ando we bring to you the architectural marvels in Japan. They are actually like the shrines to literature!

Did you know that actually, Japan is a paradise for book lovers! Some famous authors from the world are from Japan like Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto. These authors are internationally known with a lot of fame. This makes Japan not only famous for bookstores and libraries. You will be able to put your hands on quality reading material in any part of Japan like when in Tokyo at Jimbocho and even at any of the Manga cafés across the country.

In Japan, book lovers give equal importance to the place where they would read the book too. They want a perfect environment and Japan surely understands that! You will find these perfect bookstores and libraries in multiple places in Japan from the rural Tokyo to Osaka and also up to the province of  Hokkaido too. You need to visit Japan to experience it with your favourite book! A bookworm’s best friend- A book store and library to explore.

1.Kadokawa Culture Museum, Saitama 

 If you are in Saitama then Kengo Kuma designed by Kadokawa Culture Museum in Tokorozawa Sakura Town is a a famous museum to be visited for sure. It comprises of books from Manga showcasing Japanese art and culture since its launch 2020.

When you visit the fourth floor of this museum, you will find an impressive ‘bookshelf theatre. This theatre is a library with 8m high shelves holding around 50,000 books. It has a full collection of the Manga Publisher. The rule of this bookshelf theatre is that you can sit there and read as much as you want but you cannot take any book outside the museum.

They have a Books projection mapping light show every half an hour from 10.30 am on wards which you should not miss. So stick around to read books and then watch the light show before you head home.

2. Osaka’s Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest.

The Nakanoshima Children’s Book situated in Osaka’s Kita Ward is situated in a peaceful place away from the city. This place was uniquely designed by Tadao Ando,

Children are the primary visitors based on which this book store was designed. Children’s comfort is kept in mind to facilitate them to read. The books are segregated and kept under  12 themes that include topics like nature, international culture, about life and death. The placement of the books is also very attractive and cute as they are kept in cubby holes and curved shelves that keep the space open and organised. 

The ‘Blue Apple’, Ando’s sculpture inspired by the American poet Samuel Ullman is a marvel to watch. So don’t miss it when you are there.

3. Kanazawa Umimirai Library, Ishikawa

Kanazawa Umimirai Library is minimalist, creative and at the same time industrial and warm. It gives you a feeling of being inside a spaceship rather than a place to study. Isn’t that a fun place to be! From the outside, 

the library looks like an eggshell with its white building.

But when you go inside the building, you will find 6,000 perfectly spherical holes that allow plenty of sunlight into the building. It offers one giant library is one giant room where readers can feel a sense of openness and space bathed in natural light beautifully designed by Coelacanth K&H Architects.

4.Ginza Tsutaya Books, Tokyo

Bibliophiles and aesthetes should surely visit the Tsutaya bookstore inside Ginza Six shopping centre. This book storehouses all books related to art. It houses 60,000 international books on photography, painting, history and more. This store welcomes books from both established and up-and-coming artists from Japan and all over the world in its beautifully designed open space.

 T-Site Ginza regularly hosts free exhibitions in the bookstore so keep a watch.

5. T-Site in Daikanyama, Tokyo

The T-Site is a must-visit for all book lovers in Tokyo. It consists of three buildings delicately adorned with small ‘T’s’and surely it is the most beautiful bookstore in the world. You have to see it to believe it!

On the first floor, you will find English and Japanese books of different kinds ranging from gorgeous hardback cookbooks, Japanese zines, children’s books and a good selection of English bestsellers. It also houses an elegant and affordable café and bar called Anjin Library and Lounge. The lounge has interesting vintage magazines and books.


6. Manga Art Hotel, Tokyo

 Did you know that before the pandemic struck Tokyo’s nightlife when people missed the last train due to drinking, they use to stay back at the 24-hour manga café for the night? This hotel is stacked with comic books and dark rooms.

The Manga Art Hotel has two floors of bunk beds (one for men and the other for women) with Japanese and English manga lining the walls. This hotel is a safe place where you can relax and enjoy reading from the range of about 50,000 popular comics. Further, the staff are also well aware of these books and can offer you some good recommendations to get you started to read.

They also offer free wifi, shower rooms, in-room safes, comfy pyjamas (for sale), slippers, hangers and electrical outlets. Interesting to note that women and men are kept on different floors, as most capsule hotels in Tokyo.

7.Hotels Boutique hotels Hakone

In Japan, you will find many hotels that have good books to offer for you to read when you stay there. Hakone Honbako (which translates to ‘Hakone Bookcase’) is a boutique book-themed hotel in one of Tokyo’s most popular location.Every room has a small library and a mid-20th-century-style living room for comfortable reading. Hakone Honbako is a modern ryokan with a restaurant and a co-working space too. It houses around 12,000 books and the good part is that you can even purchase the book you like during your stay.


8. Tokamachi City Library, Niigata

The Tokamachi City Library situated in Niigata looks like an old study space initially. But when you notice it properly, you will find Escher-like stairs and bookshelves containing thousands of tomes. You will experience a feeling of modern building in a rural area creating an illusion where books are stacked upon books in the open space. This unique design was made by Architect Hiroshi Naito. This library from the outside does look like a normal four-storey building but it is a slanted one-storey building connected by slopes.

9.Yusuhara Library, Kochi

Yusuhara Library situated in Kochi and designed Kengo Kuma is a lovely combination of Shikoku Island’s natural splendor with a community centre of literature. The library offers an open space decked out with local Yusuhara with wood lining the floors, bookshelves and intricate ceiling sculptures. They have stunning glass windows that allow natural light inside and lets readers admire the mountains of Kochi. 

You need to remove your shoes before entering this library so that they feel comfortable just as they would when at their home. When in Yusuhara, also remember to visit the town’s five other buildings that are designed by Kuma that includes an art gallery and a hotel too.

10.Nakajima Library in Akita

The Nakajima Library  is a campus landmark, surrounded by woods on all sides. Known as the “library that doesn’t sleep”, it is Japan’s only library that remains open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

*1 Akita prefecture: Next to the ocean, this is one of Japan’s northeastern prefectures.

Access is not just limited to AIU students. Members of the general public may also enter the library, it’s seen as a haven by the people of Akita prefecture. It goes without saying that the beautiful and user-friendly design allows library visitors to study comfortably, and more.

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