By Sherilyn Siy
Most Tokyo bookstores with good English sections can feel just like wandering through any bookstore overseas. You can generally find similar collections of famous writers and current bestsellers, sports and fashion magazines, and the latest tell-all book by some B-list celebrity. That's very good news for people looking to continue their reading habits from their home countries. But what about people who want to take literary advantage of the fact that they're in Japan? Those people go to the Roppongi branch of Aoyama Book Center.
ABC-Roppongi embraces the fact that it is indeed located in Japan. There is a great collection of Japanese literature translated into English. While many stores have a token few Haruki Murakami books, there is a meaty section of books here from a broad range of Japanese writers, ranging from contemporary bestsellers to older favorites. Do you want an English version of the Tale of Genji, or a collection of children's folktales from Japan? This is the place to find them.
In addition to the Japanese literature, the theme continues with an excellent selection of Japan-related nonfiction books. There are a ton of Japanese cookbooks, as well as books on Japanese zen and religion and carpentry and martial arts and flower arranging and calligraphy.
The other thing ABC-Roppongi does very well is large, full-color books on photography, design, interiors, art, and similar topics. There is a huge collection of these types of book, with impressive range.
To be fair, the overall English book section here at ABC isn't all that impressive. The store dramatically decreased the number of foreign books that they carry, and the entire section now is just half a wall of bookshelves in the back corner. The book titles include many modern, popular titles mixed in with some classics. As in most bookstores here, there are plenty of books for learning the Japanese language, as well as a collection of travel guides for Tokyo and Japan. You can find the essentials here, but there are better bookstores around for straight-up Western literature. What you should come to ABC-Roppongi for is to add a Japanese flair to your reading habits.
The Roppongi location of Aoyama Book Center is located near Roppongi Station (Hibiya Line and Oedo Line). From Exit 3, turn left and the shop will be on your left side just several meters up the road.
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