Junkudo Book and Comic Store

For the love of books

By Bonson Lam    - 3 min read

The other night in my dream, I was in a room, surrounded by every book that I had read in my life. They were all arranged in order, neatly laid out on white shelves snaking around the perimeter of the room, like a library. There were encyclopedias on animals and general knowledge, like some tribe in the Congo or a movement in art history, written in a dry factual way that you don’t see today, except in Wikipedia.

It was like going back to your childhood home or being in a time machine where everything that ever happened in your life, the past and present, was simultaneously displayed in front of you. There were textbooks from university and novels from friends and family that I received from birthdays past. Opening the cover, I paused to read their handwritten messages to me, and for an instant, I was transported back to that moment.

At a time when people mainly read online, where you can only see one page at a time (and that is if you know the author/ subject or have relied on a search engine to make a selection for you), the thought of having everything available in a blink of an eye is overwhelming. A book, esp a thick-bound book is an experience that you can't replicate with a tablet. You can smell it, feel it, hold it close to your heart and embrace it. It is like the moment you have been waiting for months for a much-awaited new release. You queue up in anticipation and then, your pride and joy is in front of you to embrace.

Maybe this explains why libraries and bookshops attract people like the Pied Piper. Everything from Aardvarks to Zoroastrianism is available in front of your eyes at once, and so surely the decision is, which book do I start with? You don’t necessarily need to know what author to look for, it is all there for you to touch, see and feel. This textural experience has an unspoken attraction, one that exudes warmth and comfort, much like seeing a flickering of a fireplace when you are walking past a house on a dark winter’s night.

In Akita, the locals are very familiar with finding warmth in a snowstorm. At Junkudo Bookstore, the collection of Western and Japanese books, including an excellent anime and manga collection, draws people into the early hours of the evening. There are manga books on every topic, and whether you like to browse or research, it is a safe space where people, like in my dream, can travel in time. Meet people from the past from historical novels or from the future through sci-fi comics, or if you wish study textbooks in manga form that explain everything from Aerodynamics to Zen Buddhism.

From time to time there are special events like book launches and talks from novelists and manga artists, such as Yoshikazu Yasuhiko who was an animator at Osamu Tezuka's Mushi studios.

Originally a small chain of stores in Kansai in the 1990s, Junkudo has since expanded to Tokyo, Tohoku and Hokkaido. Yatsutaka Kudo, who masterminded this expansion, grew up working at his father’s bookshop, so you can see how his love has transcended a generation.

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Bonson Lam

Bonson Lam @bonson.lam

I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric lane ways of Kyoto last century. From the skies above Sapporo to the old charm of Naha's alleyways, I have been enchanted by the beauty and variety on every island. I am humbled to have met many distinguished people in my role as Regional Partner, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperial Family. From sushi cooking classes to Ninja training grounds I welcome your ideas on what you like from JapanTravel.com. Please visit us in Kyoto or Osaka and have some green tea or sake with us. 

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Kim 4 months ago
Bookstores and libraries are some of my favorite places...they always have such a calm atmosphere!
Kim 4 months ago
Yes! A magical feeling!