English language bookshops in Tokyo

ByMichael Stigall
Feb 28, 2022

English language bookshops in Tokyo

With the advent of e-readers and smartphones, getting your hands on English language literature in Japan isn’t the challenge it once was. It used to be a significant challenge, even in big cities. However, sometimes the book you are looking for isn’t available online, or you just like the feel and smell of turning pages, or maybe you just have to hold the book in your hands. There’s a lot that you could say in favor of real, physical books.  

In any case, the following is a list of just some of the places where you can find English language books around Tokyo.

Kinokuniya – Shinjuku

Boasting a large (by Japanese standards) selection of English language fiction and non-fiction, Kinokuniya also focuses on audiovisual and stationery products. There are two stores in Shinjuku station, with the main eight floored one found at the east exit. Still, the Southern Terrace exit has a broader selection of English language fashion, style, and current affairs magazines.

Where: Performing Arts Theatre 2, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya, 151-0051

When: 10:00-20:00

Web: www.kinokuniya.co.jp

Cow Books – Nakameguro

If you’ve got a touch of the beatnik about you, Cow Books is a great place to check out. With a collective choice of reasonably priced oddities from the 1960s and 70s, you can find all manner of books on progressive politics and protest works as well as other more quirky titles on the likes of Timothy Leary, Underground poetry, and hippy counter-culture. Throw in a free cup of coffee when you make a purchase, and Cow Books might be just your idea of bookshop heaven. Keep an eye out for them On The Road in their traveling bookmobile.

Where:1-14-11 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, 153-0042

When: Tue-Thur 13:00-21:00, Mon closed

Web: www.cowbooks.jp/english.html

Book Off – Everywhere

Book Off can be hit and miss depending on where you live. As part of the ‘Off’ recycling empire found all over the country, they stock second-hand goods. This means the more foreigner-friendly your shopping area is, the more likely you are to come across something you want, with the bigger stores such as the one in Shinjuku having an extensive English language stock. This, however, does not mean that the smaller stores won’t throw up the odd gem. You never know where you might get lucky.

Where: All over the city. See the website for details of your nearest store.


Tower Records – Shibuya

You know what you’re going to get with Tower Records, plenty of pop culture books and magazines. The English selection has slimmed down in recent years, but UK customers can occasionally get the Guardian Weekly or The Times. However, the massive collection of Lonely Planet tourist guides makes Tower Records the ideal spot for adventurers.

Where: 1-22-14, Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, 150-0041

When: 10:00-23:00

Web: www.tower.jp

This article is for informational purposes only. Inclusion is not an endorsement!

Hikosaemon from Tokyo, Japan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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