Jimbocho: Spending A Day In Tokyo’s Book District

Tokyo is a city full of neighborhoods iconic for different things: Harajuku for its influence in fashion and pop culture or Akihabara for its wealth of electronics and anime. When it comes to all things literary, however, no district is greater than Jimbocho, Tokyo’s Book Town.

Jimbocho is home to anywhere between 160 and 200 bookstores, depending on who you ask. While there are many new and chain stores, the majority of booksellers in the area specialize in pre-loved and antique books. The neighborhood is, too, home to the Literature Preservation Society and the Tokyo Bookbinding Club, as well as a number of universities, publishing houses and libraries, making it outstandingly the place to go in Tokyo for a bookish day out.

History

Naturally, an area known for its antique and second-hand books has quite a story to tell in terms of its history. Named after Nagaharu Jimbo, a Samurai from the 17th Century, the neighborhood and many of its bookstores were burned down in the great fire of 1913. In answer to the tragedy, university professor, Iwanami Shigeo, opened up a bookstore which has since grown into Iwanami Shoten.

Since then, the neighborhood has flourished into a popular area for the bookish and intellectual, with hordes of bookstores and cafes popping up to suit the growing popularity of the area. With Nihon, Senshu, Meiji and Hosei Universities all located within close proximity to the main shopping strip, it’s no wonder Jimbocho has grown into a bookish wonderland.

How to get there

Like many of Tokyo’s popular shopping districts, Jimbocho is remarkably easy to travel to. While there are a number of surrounding stations and bus stops available, the best station to …continue reading