Tokyo Stroll Supplement: Jimbōchō / Meiji University Area
This page is for locations in the Jimbōchō / Meiji University area of Tokyo. This neighborhood is not part of my book Tokyo Stroll. Updates will be announced on my blog.
For information on Tokyo Stroll and this web supplement see Tokyo Stroll Supplement home page
For users of the Maps.me and Google Maps apps the items below have bookmarks you can import into those apps to make navigation easier.
Among book lovers worldwide the Jimbōchō area is famous for having what is likely the largest concentration of bookstores in one place with over 150 shops in the neighborhood. The greater area also has the largest concentration of major publishers in Japan as well as several colleges, universities and trade schools, including the famous Meiji University.
I have noted which stores stock European languages, and I have included shops with specialties that may have a stock that is Japanese only but be of some interest to travelers.
What I include here is only a selection of the stores. You will find various English language guides and a map of the Jimbōchō stores at the Jimbou Book Town website.
Anegawa Bookstore Nyankodo (姉川書店 にゃんこ堂)
Originally a general bookstore called Anekawa, at one time it was decided to focus on a specialty. The owner had researched what niche to stock and realized dog books were popular and well stocked in many stores, this was one factor that led to a focus on cat books which were not as common. This specialized version of the bookshop opened on June 10th in 2013. The cat specialty then lured in customers and the shop gained a following. Many of the books are displayed face out making the stock even more tempting. Besides books of all kinds and magazines there are a variety of small decorative items, bags, cards, clothing, even a book about the store. Like many bookshops in Japan you can have your paperback book covered with their own bookcover which has the slogan "So many books, So little time" in English on it and an illustration of a cat.
Located on the 2nd floor and accessible from the back of the building from a very narrow street one block south of Yasukuni Dōri. This is the main restaurant, there are branches in other parts of Tokyo. The curry is inspired by French cuisine, their curry has a French brown sauce base that has curry spices and a chutney mixed in to produce a very tasty sweet and spicy curry. Depending on which dish you order you may have a separate sauce boat with the rice in its own dish and baked potatoes on the side. The potatoes go very well with the rest of the meal. They have an English menu.
Ebisu-dō Gallery (恵比寿堂ギャラリー)
Located on the 4th floor of the Inagaki building and specializing on Edo Period, Meiji Period and Shin Hanga prints. English spoken.
Used art books broadly defined. They are well known for their photography books and magazines. They also sell prints and posters. The selection is international so you will find works in English and other languages.
Hara Shobo (原書房)
A two story shop focusing, on the second floor, on Japanese prints from the Edo Period to the present. They not only sell prints and reproductions but also a wide range of books and catalogs related to prints, the books are mainly in Japanese. They publish a catalog of new acquisitions twice or more a year which can also be viewed online. They have English speaking staff and their prices are quite reasonable.
Hilltop Hotel (Yamanoue hoteru 山の上ホテル)
Built in 1937 in the Zigzag Moderne style this building will appeal to those interested in architecture. The building was commissioned by philanthropist Satō Keitarō and designed by William Merrell Vories, an American missionary, architect and social reformer who would later become a Japanese citizen changing his name to Hitotsuyanagi Mereru. Originally the building was used for cultural and educational projects. In WWII the Imperial Navy requisitioned it for their use, during the post war occupation it provided housing for Women's Army Corps. It was not until 1954 that the building became a hotel. The grounds are surrounded on three sides by Meiji University and the other side by Kinka Park. Hilltop Hotel has thirty-five rooms in both Japanese and Western styles, five restaurants with international cuisine and a bar. It also has a Western chapel for weddings and several banquet rooms for receptions. The hotel web site also lists the Kanda Catholic Church as well as Shintō shrines such as Yushima Tenmangū (Tokyo Stroll page 173), Kanda Myōjin Tokyo Stroll page 70), as Ichigaya Kameoka Hachiman Shrine as alternate places for wedding ceremonies. The hotel is said to have been popular with such writers as Kawabata Yasunari, Mishima Yukio, Inoue Yasushi, and Ikenami Shōtarō.
Isseido Shoten (一誠堂書店)
This bookshop was founded 1903 in Nagaoka in Niigata Prefecture, in 1906 they moved to Tokyo reopening as a secondhand bookshop. That building was lost in the Great Fire of Kanda in 1913. In 1913 they relocated to the present location where they lost the building in the Great Kantō Earthquake and Fire of 1923. The current building dates from 1931 and is four stories tall, the top two stories were built as residences for the family and employees. The immediate area survived the bombings of WWII so the store was able to continue to operate. They have a very good selection of Western language books, maps, and large selection of books on cinema. A significant amount of their business is with major museums and universities around the world.
Jimbōchō Book Center (神保町ブックセンター)
Opened in 2018, this is a cafe / bookstore combination with different kinds of workspaces available on a subscription basis. They also have rooms available for rental for meetings and events. The Jimbōchō Book Center also has a regular calendar of events and presentations. The book stock is all from the publisher Iwanami Shoten.
Kitazawa Shoten (北沢書店)
Located on the 2nd floor. The store was founded in 1902, in 1955 they started specializing in foreign language books with a focus on the humanities. Books in English are major part of the stock, other European languages are also sold as are maps. Books are both new and used..
Komiyama Shoten (小宮山書店)
The store opened in 1939 and has several stories. The focus is on art and culture, one floor is devoted to just Mishima Yukio. They have books on art, fashion, design, prints, sculptures, and a very large selection of photobooks. Fridays and Saturdays they have a garage sale at the side of the building.
Komiyama Tokyo G
A gallery and event space opened in July 2022 by the bookshop Komiyama Shoten.
Meiji University Museum / Meijidaigaku Museum (明治大学博物館)
This museum is located in the Academy Common building in two basement levels, the first has materials on the history of the University, the second has three departments which are often spoken of as being museums in their own right.
Archaeology Department. The university has long been active in the field of archaeology and many artifacts in the collection come for the excavations by faculty and students. The collection includes Japanese and Chinese materials.
Commodity Department. This collection is on the history and manufacturing techniques of traditional commodities of Japan. One of the motivations for this collection was the fear that knowledge on how things were made would be lost. You can see examples of how a particular item was done stage by stage in the manufacturing process.
Criminal Materials Department. Meiji University was originally a law school that developed into the institution we now know. Therefore it is no surprise that the museum would have this collection. The collection is very eclectic ranging from documents to artifacts from around the world including a guillotine and an iron maiden.
Nanyodo Bookstore (Nan'yōdō Shoten 南洋堂書店)
This narrow three story grey stone building houses one of the most famous architecture bookshops in Japan. The store specializes in new and used books on architecture and design in both Japanese and English.
Ōhya Shobō (大屋書房)
A large supply of original Edo Period publications including prints, books, and maps. This means all kinds of topics, even guide books to shops and businesses from that period. They also have a selection of works about the period.
Okuno Karuta (奥野かるた店)
A two story shop founded in 1921 in Minato-ku, due to wartime damage the store closed in 1945 to reopen in Jimbōchō in 1952, it then moved in Jimbōchō again, in 1979 settled in the present location. The present name dates from 2002. The name partly comes from karuta which are playing cards. All cards are divided into two broad types, those that are derived from European cards brought in by Portuguese traders in the 16th century, including hanafuda, and those that originated in Japan from earlier matching games. This store has a large variety of card sets for various games that can be played by all ages and also sells puzzles, go, shogi, chess and other board games. Some of the games sold are also published by the store. They have a gallery space and hold various events such as rakugo performances.
Ota Hime Inari Jinja (太田姫稲荷神社)
An attractive Inari shrine at an intersection next to a plaza. There is enough space here for some good-sized trees. The shrine grounds are set a little higher than the street level and providing a contrast with the very modern architecture of the rest of the neighborhood. The shrine was built by Ōta Dōkan in the 15th century as thanks after his daughter recovered from illness. The shrine was moved to this location in 1931. The shrine festival is held on the weekend closest to May 15.
Sawaguchi Shoten (澤口書店)
Founded in 2000 in Musashi Koyama, this store changed locations several times before landing in the present location in 2009, in 2011 a second store was opened in the Ganshodo Building followed by a third store, on the same block, two doors away from the Ganshodo Building. Sometimes stores have branches, sometimes they are in the same neighborhood. The book selection is broad with a good selection on art, photography, music, cinema, and architecture. The second floor of the main store has a cafe.
The nearest subway exit is A6 of Jimbōchō Station.
Shosen Grande (書泉グランデ)
Founded in 1948, this building has seven stories plus a basement.. They are known for a good selection of books and magazines for hobbyists, the fifth and sixth floors are for transportation and railway items. The store is also known for their selection of books on games, gravure idols, pro wrestling, military, manga, mathematics, engineering, and fortune telling. Their manga section on the second floor has special displays for BL, Nostalgic manga, Studio Ghibli, Tezuka Osamu, and Fujiko Fujio. The first and seventh floors have event spaces.
Sūbunsō Shoten (崇文荘書店)
Established in 1941. The store is two stories tall and deeply extends into the block, connected by a stairway, which is also lined with bookcases. Sūbunsō is well known for their excellent selection of titles in European languages and has a focus on the humanities and social sciences. They publish several catalogs each year which are available from their web site as PDF files.
Yaguchi Shoten (矢口書店)
Founded in 1918 and relocated to Jimbōchō in 1920, opened in the current location in 1934. Around 1975 they began specializing in cinema, and in 2003 began selling books on performing arts. They regularly post information, in Japanese, about new arrivals on their website.
Yamada Shoten (山田書店)
Founded in Jimbōchō in 1938 this shop is located on the 2nd floor of the building and is a dealer in prints from the Edo Period to today. They also have a very good selection of art books and exhibition catalogs. The displays include prints on the walls and items in glass cases. They publish a catalog which is available for downloadable as a PDF from their website.
Yoshihiro Yonezawa Memorial Library of Manga and Subculture / Yonezawa Yoshihiro Kinen Tosho Kan Manga to Sabukarucha (米沢嘉博記念図書館 まんがとサブカルチャー)
The core collection of this library is based on the private library of Yoshihiro Yonezawa (1953-2006). After his death his eclectic body of material consisted of over 140,000 items, many of which are not in any other collection. Yonezawa was a Meiji University alumnus, author, and manga critic who won many awards for his writing and research. His large collection was put together over his lifetime, friends would often give him material they no longer wanted knowing he would take good care of it. He was also one of the co-founders and president of the massive dōjinshi convention Comiket. The library continues to grow as others leave their collections in their wills or make donations. Established in 2009, the library has a reading room and exhibition hall with glass cases containing representative items.
Yumeno Shoten (夢野書店)
Specializing in manga and anime. Books, magazines, anime cels, manuscripts, storyboards, and related items. They are especially strong in works from the Shōwa Period. The store is the successor of an earlier venture the Nakano Shoten Manga Club which ceased when the owner unexpectedly died. The name of the store comes from the Yokoyama Mitsuteru's manga Mahōtsukai Sarī (Sally the Witch) magical girl manga from the mid 1960s in which the main character's pseudonymous family name was Yumeno.
Created September 21, 2022 | Content last updated September 28, 2022