The Book and Sons in Gakugei Daigaku

You know I have a weakness for typography.
So when I heard that a secondhand bookshop focused on typography opened in Gakugei Daigaku this spring, I had to go see for myself. 
Well…myself and my friend F. We were exploring the Gakugei Daigaku area and I decided to drag her with me. She’s the best…and I think she secretly has a thing for typography, too.
This bookshop is really beautiful. There’s music in the air and endless amazing typography related books to browse through. So many art books and magazines I’d never seen before, it was difficult to keep my hands to myself.
The high ceiling and large windows give the bookshop a gallery feel, which makes sense because apparently the very back of the bookshop is sometimes used as a gallery or community gathering place. On top of that, they also have a coffee stand for you to enjoy. We unfortunately were a couple days too early to try it…darn.
Well, that just gives me another reason to go back, so it’s all good. 
If you like design, graphics and typography books with a dash of coffee, then this bookshop is definitely for you. I leave you with these lovely words from their website: 

We hope our store will open your eyes to the beauty and soulfulness of typography.

Here are some photos:

2-13-3 Takaban, Meguro-ku, Tokyo JAPAN
東京都目黒区鷹番2-13-3 キャトル鷹番
TEL: 03 6451 0845
OPEN: 12:00am-7:00pm (closed days notified on twitter)

The Bookstore RIVE GAUCHE

Bonjour les amis! (Did I get that right?)
I wanted to show you this little French bookshop that F and I stopped by on our afternoon in Kagurazaka. Isn’t the exterior lovely? Especially that red door.
Looks very French to me (possibly because I’ve never been there…but someday!).
The Institut français du Japon is a cultural center run by the government of France. It operates a French language school, as well as a library and restaurant within the compound. Promoting the French culture through art and literature, they provide various events such as lectures and films. (I might have to come back to see a French film, they apparently have English or Japanese subtitles.)
I’d never entered the grounds before but when F and I passed by a gorgeous wall of ivy, we stopped to ooh and aah over it. F is very into ivy, as am I. It was really something.
Then I turned around…and there it was. This quaint little bookstore filled with books and magazines, all in French!
Despite my lack of knowledge whatsoever about this language, I found the bookstore to be interesting. They had Japanese manga in French, including rare ones like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (which is on my to-read list). I even found a corner with Kazuo Ishiguro novels!
It’s a tiny store but if you’re looking for something in French here in Tokyo, this is the bookstore for you. x

Impressive ivy wall, right? x

15 Ichigaya Funagawara-machi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo JAPAN
東京都新宿区市谷船河原町15 アンスティチュ・フランセ東京内
TEL: 03 3267 1280
HOURS: Mon 12:00pm-1:30pm, 2:30pm-7:30pm
              Tue-Fri 10:30am-1:30pm, 2:30pm-7:30pm
              Sat 10:30am-6:00pm
              Sun 12:00pm-6:00pm (closed holidays)

The Honya B&B in Shimokitazawa

In many parts of the world, B&B would stand for bed & breakfast. Or in some rare cases, bread & butter or even Beavis and Butt-head (shout out to the 90s!).
But in the streets of Shimokitazawa? B&B stands for…books and beer!
On their website, Honya B&B mention that they aim to become the urban bookstore of tomorrow. It’s a relatively small bookshop but the selection of books covers a wide variety of topics, all of which you can enjoy reading with a drink in hand. 
Obviously, as it’s included in their store name, they serve beer. Draft beer, in fact. (I’m not a beer person so not really sure but beer is better on tap, right?) Their drink menu also includes wine, non-alcoholic beer, and other soft drinks.
And I know what you’re thinking, trying to read a book with a beer in hand can get a bit tricky. But no worries, the bookshop has lovely tables with seats and a number of chairs scattered around for you to use. I should mention that most of the vintage furniture (shelves, tables, chairs, etc.) inside the bookshop are for sale, too. 
It really is a cozy set up.
I love that the books are arranged together by topic, instead of author or publisher. You can browse until you find a corner that interests you, and then dig in.
You just never know what kind of book is waiting for you here!
 Here are some photos:

Honya B&B (本屋 B&B)
Dai-ni Matsuya Bldg, 2nd Floor
2-12-4 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo JAPAN
東京都世田谷区北沢2-12-4 第2マツヤビル2F
TEL: 03 6450 8272
HOURS: 12:00pm-12:00am

The BooksActually in Singapore

You know I love stepping into local bookstores during my travels.
Well, I had heard about BooksActually (on this list) even before I knew I was going to Singapore. I think it’s one of the most well-known independent bookstores in the world, or getting there. So when the talk of stopping by this sovereign city-state came up, I immediately jumped on the idea solely because I wanted to stop by this bookstore.
I didn’t take very many pictures because I spent most of my time poking my nose in every corner of the bookstore, not to mention a handful of books and magazines. They specialize in fiction and literature but you can also find everything from typewriters to original stationary. Oh and did I mention the cats, too? (Although not for sale.)
I think the owners have a very unique and eclectic taste when it comes to selecting books for their bookstore. It had an amazing selection of novels by local writers, which made choosing a souvenir book for myself all the more difficult. They also publish books under their own brand, Math Paper Press, and hold events such as book launches and readings, which I would definitely go to if I were local.
BooksActually made me wish I lived in Singapore.
No. 9 Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru, Singapore 168645
TEL: +65 6222 9195
HOURS: Mon 11:00am-6:00pm
               Tue-Fri 11:00am-9:00pm
               Sat 10:00am-9:00pm
               Sun 10:00am-6:00pm

The Embiggen Books in Melbourne

I am smitten with Embiggen Books.

It may be the smell of books or just the inviting atmosphere but sometimes I will step into a bookstore and think, I could live here! This was definitely one of those bookstores. All I need is a small bed and a kitchenette in a corner somewhere.

Their selection of books is fantastic. Bookshelves cover most of the walls and if I could, I would’ve bought the store out. They have a large selection of books on science and art, which I thought was interesting. But they also have everything from gardening to psychology, pretty much every thing your bookworm heart desires and even more.

Usually I tend to glide over to the travel section, especially when I’m travelling. They also had a table full of books on Australia or by Australian authors, which was exactly what I was looking for. I like to buy a local book during my travels, sort of like a souvenir to remember the city by.

I’m still patting myself on the back because I somehow managed to only buy one book, which is a miracle. I’m green with envy of the people of Melbourne who get to step into this bookstore on a daily basis. Then again, if I were one of those people, I would be broke in a week…so I guess I should be thankful instead!

Isn’t this bookstore is lovely though? What section would you beeline to? x

Here are some photos:

Before the bookstore photos, I wanted to share a hearty breakfast photo 🙂
Some things are the same in Tokyo and Melbourne…little sparrows fluttering about.
Their window display if full of eclectic books.
It’s just one floor but full from floor to ceiling with books.
It’s always fun reading about the places you’re travelling.
I almost got this book until I realized I should probably watch the movie first!
What do you think about Embiggen Books?

197-203 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000 AUSTRALIA
TEL: 03 9662 2062
HOURS: Mon-Tue 10:30am-6:30pm
                Thu-Fri 10:30am-7:00pm
                Sat-Sun 10:30am-5:00pm

The Beautiful City Guides

I’ve been seeing these city guides everywhere…and I love it!
The CITI x 60 city guide series came out this summer and it introduces you to the city through the eyes of 60 local artists along topics such as art, design, and architecture.

What really caught my eye were the book covers. Not only are they beautiful, it can spread out to display a map of the city created by one of their artists! Each map is unique and I have a feeling I won’t be able to stop myself from collecting all the city guides, especially because I’ve yet to visit many of these cities. What do you think?

The first series covers London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Barcelona, and Berlin.


The List of Favorite Books

What are your all-time favorite books?
One of my friends nominated me to make a list of books that I love, have affected or changed me on facebook a few weeks ago. The rules were that you shouldn’t think too hard about it and just write down the top ten books that come to you. So during my lunch break today, I jotted down my top ten books.
I think I was in a nostalgic mood and chose books I’ve been reading for years. These are pretty much my go-to books that I can (and have) read over and over again. I tend to lean toward happy endings and/or witty comical books. Or the one’s that just take me away to a completely different world.
Here is my list:
1. ANNE OF THE ISLAND by Lucy Maude Montgomery

“I do know my own mind,’ protested Anne. ‘The trouble is, my mind changes and then I have to get acquainted with it all over again.”

2. BET ME by Jennifer Crusie

“Statistics show that men are interested in three things: careers, sports, and sex. That’s why they love professional cheerleaders.”
Cal put down his fork “Well, that’s sexist.”
“Yes I know,” she said. “But it’s true isn’t it?”
“What?” Cal tried to find his place in the conversation. “Oh, the sports and sex thing? Not at all. This is the twenty-first century. We’ve learned how to be sensitive.”
“You have?”
“Sure,” Cal said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t get laid.”

3. THE BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC by Julie Otsuka

“On the boat the first thing we did — before deciding who we liked and didn’t like, before telling each other which one of the islands we were from, and why we were leaving, before even bothing to learn each other’s names — was compare photographs of our husbands.”

4. ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY by David Sedaris

“Every day we’re told that we live in the greatest country on earth. And it’s always stated as an undeniable fact: Leos are born between July 23 and August 22, fitted queen-size sheets measure sixty by eighty inches, and America is the greatest country on earth. Having grown up with this in our ears, it’s startling to realize that other countries have nationalistic slogans of their own, none of which are “We’re number two!”

5. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING by William Shakespeare

“A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.”

6. NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro

“He did a laugh and put his arm round me, though we kept sitting side by side. Then he said: ‘I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. THat’s how I think it is with us. It’s a shame, Kath, because we’ve loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.'”

7. NUMBER THE STARS by Lois Lowry

“Annemarie stood on the balcony of the apartment with her parents and sister, and watched. Up and down the street, and across on the other side, she could see flags and banners in almost every window. She knew that many of those apartments were empty. For nearly two years, now, neighbors had tended the plants and dusted the furniture and polished the candlesticks for the Jews who had fled. Her mother had done so for the Rosens.
“It is what friends do, ” Mama had said.”


“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

9. THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett

“I am sure there is magic in everything, only we have not sense enough to get hold of it and make it do things for us –like electricity, horses, and steam.”

“And so they entered a new and alien world where they would become a racial minority, seen as different and inferior, and where they would become ‘strangers.'”

Sometimes it’s fun to make a list like this. Although t’s really hard to narrow down your favorite books to ten. My friend has kids and she said she wanted to make a list just out of children’s books because there are so many good ones out there. I completely agree.
As I was looking at everyone else’s book list after posting mine, theirs kept on reminding me of good books! I forgot so many, from John Grisham (I love his books with a twist at the end) to the Harry Potter books (specifically the third one). It’s really impossible to choose. But I guess we should just all be grateful that there are so many good books out there!
Have you read any of the books on my list? What books would be on your top ten list?

The TOMagazine

When I went to Book Apart, the bookstore in Okurayama, I discovered a new magazine.
For the past few years, I’ve stayed away from magazines because they come out so often and it takes up a lot of space. Plus you usually only read through it once before it’s old news. But I couldn’t stop myself from getting this one.
TOmagazine, or its current name TOmag, is a city culture magazine that features one ward of Tokyo in each issue. Tokyo has a total of 23 wards and you could say that each has their own characteristics. So I was quite intrigued by this idea of publishing a magazine for each ward.
The very first issue was dedicated to Adachi-ku. The magazine was filled with photographs, data, and stories that as a whole give you a peak into the lives of the people who live there. And not just the people but also the places and the history of the ward. It was interesting and I realized that even living in Tokyo, there are still a lot of things I don’t know about our 23 wards. 
The second issue is dedicated to Meguro-ku, which is already out in bookstores now. Another issue on Nakano-ku will be in stores next month. Apparently the editors move their office along with the issue that they are covering, so they get first hand experience residing in each ward and interacting with the locals, which I thought was interesting. TOmag is written mostly in Japanese but it’s worth it just to see the photographs and the beautiful layouts, if you’re into things like that.
For me, it’ll be a great way to get back to reading in Japanese. My reading skills definitely need work and this is a topic I’m willing to struggle to get through. Definitely my kind of magazine.
Do you read magazines? What are you favorites?

The Book Apart in Okurayama

Hello, hello! How have you been?

I seem to have forgotten about my blog for a little while, hounded by that thing called “real life.” It can be so time consuming sometimes. But no worries. I’ll be making up lost time by posting like a maniac the next few days 😉

So a couple of weeks ago, I finally made my way to Book Apart.

Book Apart is a bookstore that opened last year in Yokohama. It’s owned by Shuhei Mita, who also owns, Book Truck, a mobile bookstore. His selection of books are wonderfully vast and diverse. But the books were not the only reason this bookstore pulled me in. I mean, books are always enough. But there was an extra cherry on top (for me).

You may have guessed from the name, this bookstore is housed in an apartment. Okurayama Apartment, to be exact. This apartment building was designed by Kazuyo Sejima, one-half of the world renowned SANAA architecture firm. They’re famous for architectural designs such as the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa prefecture and the Musée Louvre-Lens in France. You can say they are currently one of the most influential architects in Japan, so I was really interested in the apartment itself.

The apartment had three-stories, very uniquely designed. Large windows, white walls, and simple concrete floors made the place look quite spacious. The bookstore used various sections of the apartment to highlight different books. Children’s books by the bedroom, cooking books in the kitchen, travel books by the patio.

I was there for hours, first browsing, then sitting down with a book, then browsing some more. It was definitely a treasure box. I finally settled on a magazine that caught my eye and I headed towards the register on the first floor. With both books and architecture to tickle my toes, you can bet I went home with a smile on my face.

What do you think of this bookstore? Here are some photos:

Okurayama Apartment I
3-5-11 Okurayama, Kohoku-ku
Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa
*2min walk from Okurayama Station
on the Tokyu Toyoko Line
Hours: 12:00pm-9:00pm
Closed Mondays

The Bookstores in Jimbocho

Jimbocho is famous for their used bookstores. 
There are rows and rows of books, both inside and outside of the stores, just waiting for someone to come pick them up. So many different genres can be found in an array of colors and sizes. It’s really a kind of organized chaos of books. I love it.
Jimbocho (神保町) is a corner of Tokyo, located in Chiyoda ward, and it has a very interesting history with books. There’s said to be approximately 180 used bookstores in the Jimbocho area.
During the Edo era, many samurai residences, or buke-yashiki (武家屋敷), were located around this area. After the Meiji Ishin (明治維新), when the Tokugawa shogunate crumbled, many of the lords and vassals who resided in this area moved back home or headed to Shizuoka with Tokugawa Keiki (徳川慶喜), and a large part of this area was left vacant.
When the new government started, not only was this area a residence for new officials, but many schools and hospitals were built in the large vacant areas as well. Many well-known schools such as University of Tokyo, Gakushuin University, Juntendo University, Meiji University, Chuo University were first established in this area during the Meiji era. Because there were so many schools located here, inevitably the number of professors, students, and researchers in the area increased, along with the need for books. And as students tend to be poor in any day and age, the need for used books also increased!
So that was apparently the start of Jimbocho’s affiliation with books. The Jimbocho area has seen its share of difficult times, from the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, which burned down the entire area, to during the war, when food was scarce. But each time the bookstores got back on their feet in search of books to sell in their store.
It had been awhile since I’d been to Jimbocho and, even though I didn’t buy anything, it was a great way to spend the afternoon. I poked my nose into a lot of bookstores. My favorites were the used bookstore with design/art books, old old old Japanese calligraphy books, and the one with classic English books. But there were too many to see at once so I want to drop by again. And hopefully next time, I’ll be able to make up my mind about which book I want to take home with me this time!
Here are some photos: