Browsing for New Books in Tokyo

Kamata movie poster

Of course, any book in print can be ordered from any book store. However, if you want to browse for new books, there are a few that stock decent selections of film books. In Kanda, take the A7 Exit and walk down Yasukuni-dori away from Iwanami Hall and you’ll hit the following:

Shosen Grand (1-3-2 Jinbocho): They keep their film books down in the basement, and generally stock the more academic books that are hard to find in other stores.

Sanseido Shoten (1-1 Jinbocho): Has a good selection of scenarios and the last year of major magazines on the first floor.

Also try Kinokuniya in Shinjuku, the massive book store in the Ikebukoro Seibu, and the Yaesu Book Center near Tokyo Station. In Aoyama, Book City has a spotty selection of books, videos, and posters primarily on Asian film, as well as the recent runs of periodicals; they also have stores in Fukuoka and Sapporo.

Film Specialty Bookstores

If you are doing research on Japanese film, a constant bother is not only the lack of available films, but also the paucity of books and magazines. Literally thousands of books and magazines on cinema have been published in Japan, but few have been collected outside of Japan and even Japanese libraries, not having considered film studies a legitimate institution, often have surprisingly poor collections. That is one reason why I spent several years in Japan scouring through used bookstores to build up a sizable collection at the University of Iowa. But even if such books are available through interlibrary loan, a book in hand is better than two at Iowa, you could say, so many people visiting Japan ask me where they can buy books on film. This, then, is my spiel on film specialty bookstores in Japan.

New Bookstores

Books on film still in print can certainly be found at most any sizable bookstore in Japan, but some are better than others. In Tokyo, the Yaesu Book Center near Tokyo station is probably the best stocked.

Used Bookstores

For out-of-print books, or for new books at lower prices, there is always used bookstores, of which there are thousands in Japan. Luckily, a few of them handle quite a few film-related books. When you are in Japan, you can always visit them or go to one of the many book fairs in which they participate, but if you are not, some publish catalogs through which you can mail order books. Here are a few of the film-speciality used bookstores.

  • Kimoto Shoten: A short walk from the Itabashi Station on the Saikyo Line, Kimoto Shoten is a used bookstore that specializes in theater and film books and is one of the better places to find runs of old magazines. Mokimoto store website.
    6-86-15 Takinokawa, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 114
  • Inagaki Shoten: Inagaki Shoten may seem small and out of the way, but with an owner very knowledgable about film, it is one of the better places to find especially prewar film books. Just turn left as you exit the Mikawashima Station on the Joban Line: it’s about a 100 meters away on the other side of the street. 3-65-2 Arakawa, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo 116
  • Isseido: Isseido is one of the major dealers in Kanda and handles many different kinds of books. But they have a very good film section and occasional publish a catalog of those books. A bit pricey, but very professional. Isseido Book Sellers website.
    2-5 Kanda Jinbocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101
  • Yaguchi Shoten: Probably the most well-known film used bookstore because of its location in Kanda, the used bookstore Mecca of Japan. Dealing with film and theater, they have put an effort into screenplays and have even published an index to published screenplays.
    2-5 Kanda Jinbocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101

Other Bookstores

While they may not specialize in film, many other used bookstores have enough of a collection that they might have the book you are looking for.

The Waseda area with around twenty bookstores along Waseda Dori is another major used bookstore center that tends to be cheaper than Kanda and have more stores that carry film books. Especially check out Bunshodo.

Stores like @Wonder or Vintage in Kanda are some of the many that deal in film pamphlets and posters.

Everything mentioned so far is in Tokyo. While there are used bookstores outside of that metropolis that have film books, many I have unfortunately not been yet able to visit. Kamakura Kinema-do is a favorite because it is also a small cafe.

A lot of used bookstores around Japan have begun selling over the internet, so check out specialty search engines like Nihon no Furuhon’ya or Super Genji if any of these stores has the book you want.

Since I am perpetually on the lookout for good film bookstores, I would appreciate any additions to the above list people can offer.

Aaron Gerow