OWL Magazine Korea

Tokyo Used Bookstore Street – Kanda Jinbocho

Not far from Tokyo Station in the heart of Tokyo, you can discover the antiquarian bookshops on a street known as ‘Kanda Jinbocho.’ This street has a unique atmosphere, dealing exclusively with old books rather than modern publications. If likened to places in South Korea, it resembles the antique bookstores along Cheonggyecheon in Seoul or the book alley in Busan’s Bousudong.

From the second day of my Tokyo trip, I chose to stay at Henna Hotel near Asakusabashi Station. With check-in available from 3 pm, I decided to leisurely explore the area around Takebashi, where the capsule hotel was located, before heading to Asakusabashi.

“Within a 10-minute walk from the accommodation, Kanda Jinbocho was found.”

While looking for places of interest near the accommodation, I noticed that Kanda Jinbocho was nearby. It was situated within a 5-10 minute walk, making it an easily accessible destination for a leisurely stroll.

“A street formed south of Jinbocho Station featuring used bookstores.”

The used bookstore or antiquarian bookshop street of Kanda Jinbocho is formed south of Jinbocho Station. Here, you’ll find bookstores specializing in various fields such as literature, philosophy, social sciences, natural sciences, bilingual books, and entertainment. Some shops even handle very old books that are no longer in publication. Therefore, it is referred to as both the used bookstore street and the antiquarian bookshop street.

“Developed after the Meiji Restoration, a street filled with various bookstores.”

This area started developing after the Meiji Restoration when institutions like Tokyo Gaikokugo Gakko, the predecessor of Tokyo University, and Meiji Hogakko and Eikoku Jiributsu Gakko (English Law School) were established. Bookstores naturally emerged, catering to students and professors who needed books. Additionally, a culture of students trading old books, especially among those with limited means, formed here, becoming the origin of used bookstores.

“Some antiquarian books are sold at considerably high prices.”

While some stores have a sophisticated, large bookstore atmosphere, most are small, independent establishments. Each bookstore handles a unique collection, and some exclusively deal with antiquarian books. You can find books that look quite old at a glance, and the prices can be quite high, making them unaffordable for casual purchases.

Of course, stores selling ‘used’ books offer reasonably priced second-hand books unless they are special limited editions. It’s a unique area in Tokyo where you can explore old books, reminiscent of times gone by.

“Japan, Tokyo – Kanda Used Bookstore Street”

  • Address: 1 Chome, Kanda Jinbocho, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 101-0051, Japan