- December 06 2015
5 things to do in Jinbocho book town! Here are Japan’s reservoir of knowldge and information!
In Tokyo, there is a district called ‘Jinbocho’, which is known as a book town. Have you heard of Jinbocho before?
The origin of the book town derived from the success of Iwanami Shoten Publishers in 1914 and that brought many people with higher education or art background into this area. In 1940s, bookstores, antique bookstores and publishers gathered here and became one of the largest book/antique book town in the world.
In addition, it is also known as a student town with prestigeous private universities and you’ll be able to find a lot of affordable restaurants targetting students.
The town with intellectual yet nostalgic history…that’s what Jinbocho’s charm is.
1) Let’s go to the biggest bookstore in Jinbocho, ‘Sanseido Shoten’ bookstore!
Among numerous bookstores in the famous Jinbocho book town, the main bookstore of the nationwide chain ‘Sanseido Shoten’, is the largest. All the six floors are dedicated to book sales, and there is a large selection of general and specialized books, such as medical books, comic books, study aid books, foreign books and stationery.
Most are in Japanese, but it would still be enjoyable even to take a stroll inside the store.
2) Enjoy lunch at a legendary German restaurant, ‘Hoshintei’ in the basement of Sanseido Shoten
The German beer restaurant, ‘Hoshintei’ is located in the basement of Sanseido Shoten bookstore. This is well known for being used as a meeting spot for renowned writers, manga artists and editors from Jinbocho publishers.
Inside the restaurant, you’ll find many autographs signed by celebrities. It is interesting to see some autographs in beautiful Japanese Calligraphy or an autographed illustration by a famous manga artist.
On the menu, you see German dishes, such as stuffed cabbage rolls and a Hamburg steak, and they are very tasty.
3) Visiting secondhand and antique bookstores
After leaving Sanseido Shoten Bookstore, let’s walk around Jinbocho for secondhand and antique bookstores. Many of them are on Yasukuni Avenue and they mostly stand on the south side (North facing). This is known as a custom of this area to protect books from damage by sun exposure.
Look at the amount of books! Sometimes, you’ll find pop idol or pron magazines from 1950s, and this makes it even more interesting (LOL)
People used to say that there were no new/old books that you couldn’t find in Jinbocho. This place is certainly precious as you can find books that went out of print long time ago.
I don’t know if this is true, but people say that Jinbocho didn’t have to face American bomb attacks during the Pacific War because of the amount of knowledge and information that Jinbocho held.
4) Shopping on Suzuran Street
The main street in Jinbocho is called Suzuran Street as below.
You’ll have fun just to stroll this street up and down without any destination.
For example, here is a stationery store where artists including manga artists regularly shop for specialized art items.
There are cute envelopes, memo pads and other paper items in the store, and it is simply entertaining to look at them. It might be perfect for souvenir shopping, too.
You find specialized stores for fountain pens and seals, too. They have a wide selection of world famous brands and they might have a custom-made option as well.
Other than the above, you’ll see more bookstores along this street! I wonder how many books there would be if I counted up all the books around here!
5) Let’s try Japanese curry!
Actually, Jinbocho is famous for a number of delicious curry restaurants. Unlike Indian curry, people eat Japanese curry only with rice instead of naan. It is not as spicy or hot as Indian curry and is often milder, too.
There are so many curry restaurants in Jinbocho, so if you happen to see one on your stroll, please give it a go and experience Japanese curry:)
How was it? Most must-visit spots are within 5 minutes from Jinbocho subway station. After covering those spots, you can just freely walk around, which is the true charm of Jinbocho, and even first-time visitors can discover this charm.
So, please come over to Jinbocho, where you experience the intellectual and nostalgic history and soak into Japanese culture.