神保町古書店街
 神保町古書店街
 神保町古書店街

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INFORMATION

  • addressArea around Kanda-Jimbocho, Chiyoda City, Tokyo
  • access0-minute walk from Subway "Jimbocho Sta."
    6-minute walk from JR/Subway "Ochanomizu Sta."

The area also has famous coffee shops and curry shops. Jimbocho Used Bookstore Street: Where all kinds of knowledge comes together.

Jimbocho is well-known as the biggest used bookstore street in Japan. Heading west from the Surugadai-shita intersection on Yasukuni-dori Ave. You will find about 200 used bookstores, including some that specialize in one subject area, such as art, martial arts, foreign books, and recipe books. This post will introduce some of Jimbocho’s typical bookstores and also the coffee shops and curry restaurants that have sprung up around the area’s used bookstores.

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A place where 2-minute walk from the station is Yaguchi Bookstore, which boasts a history of being in business since 1918. This used bookstore deals mainly in used books related to movies, plays, dramas, and scenarios. It’s shelve are lined with books covering a wide period of time from the old days to recently released works. It seems that movie pamphlets from the 1950's and 60's are particularly popular here.

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  • Ohya Shobo is a 3-minute walk from the station. This bookstore specializes in old books and documents, such as Japanese-style books, ukiyo-e woodblock prints, and old maps, related to the former city of Edo.
  • Edo Meisho Zue (A Guide to Famous Edo Sights), which gives an idea of how Edo looked back in the day, is one such popular buy. The volume in my hand is one that many people use when walking around to trace the roots of their hometowns, learning about the history of the place. Incidentally, the reason why many of the used bookstores face north is to prevent the books in the front of the shop from getting a “suntan.”
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  • Just like its used bookstores, Jimbocho’s streets are also lined with atmospheric coffee shops. There are many long-standing coffee shops including Sabouru, LADRIO, and MILONGA NUEVA, that have captured the hearts of people for many years. Established in 1955, Sabouru is located 1-minute from the station, and features a unique three-floor structure which includes a basement and it’s raised second floor. The interior is unified with an interesting wood look and makes you feel like you’ve strayed into the story.
  • Jimbocho is also the battleground for Japan’s leading curry restaurant. According to one theory, curry places became popular in the used bookstore district, with restaurants opening one after here, because curry is a dish you can eat while holding a book in the other hand. In Jimbocho you will encounter a wide range of different restaurants, all of them orthodox: Bondy, which serves European style curry; Kyoeido, which offers Sumatran curry; and Curry Speciality Restaurant Ethiopia, serving Indian curry. If you’re a curry-lover, Jimbocho has many famous restaurants that are worth a visit.
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In addition to used bookstores, another unique aspect to Jimbocho is that it has bookstores that are very selective about the books they stock. One of these is Tokyodo Shoten, which was established in 1890 and is a 3-minute walk from the station. The large shelves in the central first floor are called “the shelves of knowledge.” From new books to hardcore technical books, the staff in charge of this area purchase books in specified quantities.

Jimbocho is a place where you can come across all sorts of books. It’s a place where you often end up with some books in your hand on a topic that you’ve never had an interest in. We do recommend taking the book you’ve just bought and spending some time in a coffee shop or curry restaurant. By the time you’ve finished reading the book, the look of the cityscape may have taken on a different appearance to when you started.

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