Whether you’re visiting or living in a country where you know the language or not, it’s always exciting to take a look at the local bookstores; It’s fascinating to see what’s selling, what’s popular and what’s widely known, in comparison to your own country. In Japan, they have bookstores that aren’t just book stores, they have stores that are a combination of electric appliances and books. So whether you’re a bibliophile or not, come on this journey with me!
I am an avid book reader, and love to spend my Saturday Mornings reading in the house and outside; Hiroshima has beautiful scenic spots by the river where you can enjoy a morning coffee and a good read – the city is perfect for this activity. However, some weeks, I’ll spend a day at the bookstore: Edion Tsutaya Kaden near Hiroshima station.
Edion Electrics is a four story building that not only sells books, but electric appliances as well, and hopes to create a new way of living, where books are just a part of our daily lives. The Edion Tsutaya Kaden store shares their own concept: to create an electric appliance store where you can enjoy a relaxing moment and discover new things. In my opinion, they’ve really achieved this goal.
The first floor
The first floor is mostly a shopping mall: there’s a small supermarket, a restaurant, iPhone related items section, Quick Garage (Apple), a beauty section, etc. I don’t spend a whole lot of my time here shopping, but I do like eating at ‘le garage’ after spending my morning on the upper floors. They serve burgers, lasagnas and waffles (for dessert) and it’s a perfect Saturday lunch meal. You can also reserve ahead at: https://legarage-hiroshima.owst.jp
The supermarket is also very convenient for when I’ve forgotten to do my end of week shopping trips.
The second floor
The second floor is mostly based on ‘hobbies’, and so they sell: watches, cameras, computers, sound devices, art work, etc. They also have a big section dedicated to stationery, so if you’re a big fan of pen and paper (I’m very picky when it comes to using the right pen), then this will be the area for you. Even if you’re not as interested as I am, Japan sells a WIDE variety of stationery, so it’s still worth taking a look at.
The books are mostly spread out everywhere across the walls and on the counters, and the entire area isn’t really obviously split into “books” and “appliances”. It’s more like this:
There is a shaved ice cream maker, and then there are books on shaved ice cream recipes.
It’s really made so that you can enjoy window shopping for electric appliances, but also for books at the same time.
The third floor
The theme of the third floor is “Living and Children”, so as one can imagine, most of the items here are based on “living”, or “children”.
They have a cooking section where they sell fridges, microwaves, frying pans, coffee makers… One thing Japan genuinely excels at, and is well known for, is making various types of one item, especially food: we have more than 30 types of KitKats flavors, many flavors of popcorn, ice cream, sodas and etc, and it’s the same for items as well. Many Japanese stores seriously sell over ten variations of the same object, each one more advanced than the other: I once saw a microwave that was able to make more than 50 recipes by just putting the ingredients in a bowl and putting it in the microwave. I still to this day don’t know how it really works. Around the back, there are “model room sections” where they set up an entire “kitchen” or “bathroom” where one can see all the appliances put together (a bit like IKEA).
There is also a kids section, where there is a toy corner and a children’s book section. It might sound like a place only for kids, but it can be very interesting for adults as well. And it’s also the perfect place to look for books if you’re just starting to learn Japanese. Some of my personal favourites that I picked up at the kids’ corner are:
This book introduces some of the most famous individuals of Japanese history, but also talks about some of their lesser known “yabai” (weird, strange, scary) personalities. I personally own this book and it is a wild, crazy read, and I learnt some cool facts they never taught at school!
I also absolutely adore this book! It introduces a lot of the sadder, lonely facts about animals. For example, apparently, electric eels can electrocute themselves, and a lot more.
When I’m looking for a new book to read or I want to get out of the house but still read, I’ll usually come down to Edion Tsutaya Kaden. What’s great for fanatic book readers, is that this store in particular has seats and couches laid out everywhere for you to sit and read on.
I am in love with this! In fact they have a Starbucks on the second floor, and a juice stand called “Maru5deli” on the third floor, so I usually like to buy a drink, buy a book and lounge around on these couches for a good hour before going home. It’s an absolutely blissful moment, being able to relax in a bookstore.
I do recommend getting a freshly squeezed drink at “Maru5deli”, but I do have to say that the lemonade is very sour. So if you’re into sour things, it might be perfect for you, but for me, it was a little too much of a wake up.
If you are looking for a specific book however, I do NOT recommend going to Tsutaya Kaden, because you will probably never find it. Again, the concept of the store is to enjoy and discover new things, so if you have a specific objective in mind, it’s not the place to go. Instead, I recommend walking two minutes to go to Fukuya. IN fact, it has such as long history: the Fukuya store in Hacchobori was actually one of the buildings still standing after being exposed to the atomic bomb in 1945!
The Fukuya in front of Hiroshima station is actually eleven stories high, and sells everything from brand luxury goods to children’s clothes and shoes. The tenth floor is dedicated to a bookstore called “Junkudo”, one of the biggest book stores in Hiroshima city. It has all the books and thankfully, it is much easier to navigate around because
- There’s a clear map showing each section and each topic
- There’s two or three machines where you can look up specially whether your book is in stock, and where to find it
I spent a long time trying to find a book in Edion Tsutaya Kaden that I found in two minutes at the Fukuya Book store. They also have an English books section where I like to look around sometimes. They don’t have all the latest books, but they do have some great classics.
AND they have a small sale sometimes that usually goes unnoticed, but when I went the other day, they were selling English paperback books for just 550 yen each.
I do sometimes spend my Saturday mornings reading here as they have a cafe at the side of the store, with a great view! Please note however, that at Junkudo, you must buy your books first before reading them at the cafe.
If you are really interested in books, アカデミィ書店 is a great place to go to as well. アカデミィ書店 is a famous second hand book store in Hiroshima that sells antique books (as well as CDs, and DVDs), and they have stores all over the city. If you prefer shopping for books this way, this is a great experience as well.
In addition, if you’re genuinely looking to replace your electric appliances, it’s probably better to go to Bic Camera as they sell more appliances at more affordable prices. Just beware that they really have a LOT to offer, so you’ll probably have to make sure you have enough time to shop. Last time I went, I wanted to simply replace my old washing machine, but ended up spending an agonizing two hours because I couldn’t choose between two similar washing machines at a similar price but with a few different functions. True story.
Biccamera, Edion Tstutaya Kaden and Fukuya are all literally a two minute walk from Hiroshima Station and can all be accessed from underground. There is a lot of traffic around this side of the station so I definitely recommend using this route. However, there are a lot of turns and exits, so it may take a while to get used to.