Yokohama’s Yurindo Books

100 year old book and stationery shop

By Tomoko Kamishima    - 3 min read

Just wandering around any city’s downtown area is sometimes really enjoyable. Every city in the world has its own unique mixture of old and new. Wandering around Yokohama, you might find Yurindo (有隣堂), a big book shop along the Isezaki shopping mall street in Yokohama that still preserves the atmosphere and feel of the good old days of Yokohama.

Yurindo was founded in 1909 at exactly the same spot that the store’s main branch is now standing. The founder, Daisuke Matsunobu, lost his bookstore due to the Great Earthquake of 1923. But he didn’t give up. He collected used books from wherever he could get them, and planned how he could restart his ravaged shop.

He succeeded and expanded his business smoothly. Then World War II started. In 1945, B29 American planes bombed Yokohama. The whole Ikezaki-cho area, including his building, was completely destroyed. After that, the Occupation Forces took his land and he had nothing remaining. But, still, he somehow went forward. He didn’t stop. He recovered AGAIN and his bookstore was reborn AGAIN…like the mythical Phoenix.

Now let’s take a leisurely look around this wonderful shop. Although most of the books are written in Japanese, you still might enjoy looking around! Magazines and literary works are on the 1st floor. Comics and foreign books are in the basement. Medical books are on the 4th floor, tucked away in the back. Books about science, engineering, and art are on the 5th floor. Maps and traveler’s guides are on the 6th floor.

The 3rd and 4th floors also feature stationary. I would like to show you a bit more of these two floors. When you come up to the 3rd floor, you will see post card shelves. There are many photo cards showing Yokohama landscapes at the end of the shelf. I think Yurindo has more lovely postcards than many other shops. Small items such as photo frames, memo pads, and letter sets with Japanese designs are displayed and for sale on the same floor. They are pretty and quite handy. In fact they might make perfect gifts. Next to this is a Japanese incense section. There are several kinds of stick and corn shaped incenses, incense holders, and incense burners. Please try them!

People who like handicrafts will jump for joy on the 4th floor. Here, there is a variety of traditional Japanese handmade washi paper. They are beautiful, light, and easy to fold, but incredibly durable.  

I feel that Yurindo is a compact treasure box of Yokohama. Why not reach out and touch the old and new Yokohama at Yurindo?!

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Tomoko Kamishima

Tomoko Kamishima @tomoko.kamishima

Japan is a small island nation, but we have a huge number of surprising things to discover here. Many of these delights can be found when you step off the main street onto small side paths. I really enjoy studying about and researching various aspects of traditional Japanese culture, and then sharing this information with visitors to Japan. I hope you will enjoy it, too! ARTICLE INDEX & PHOTOS:  An index of most of my Japan Travel articles can be found at the entry page of my blog, and my photos are shown here.  日本はとても小さな国ですが、大通りから一本小道に入ればたくさんの発見があります。日本人が積み重ねてきた歴史を学びながら、古い建物や庭を訪ね、物語の舞台となった景色を眺めて、皆様といっしょに日本文化の奥深さを探求していきたいと思います。

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JapanTravel Guest
JapanTravel Guest 7 years ago
I really love paper and paper products. Web is great for finding information, but paper is evocative, emotion-inducing. And picking up a colorful sheet of washi just begs you to find a nice present to wrap and later delight someone with. I'd love to see some more information and photos of Yurindo's selection of washi paper...