Do you have a thirst for books about avant-garde art movements? Insect taxonomy? Early modern maps? Forgotten children’s literature? Obscure occult sects? There are specialty stores in Tokyo devoted solely to these topics, but what’s amazing is that all these specialty bookstores and many, many more are located in a single neighborhood called Jinbocho.
Jinbocho is usually a turn-off for tourists and idle expats since a fair amount of Japanese knowledge is required to browse and read. When I wax lyrical about this neighborhood, I am typically asked, “but are there English bookstores?” The answer is YES, if you know where to find them, or have the patience to scan the alleyways until you see one.
My personal favorite foreign language store is Oshima Shoten, located at Jinbocho’s easternmost corner. Despite its cramped 50-square-foot size, about 1/50 the size of a Barnes and Noble, it is packed from floor to ceiling with fascinating and fantastic English titles you’ve never heard of, and I have never been there without taking something home.
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