The best bookstore in the world: Daikanyama T-site

By Misha Janette


daikanyama-tsite-13I have been around the block and seen a book or two, and nowhere am I more inclined to haul off with a metric ton of them than after visiting what  deem to be the best bookstore in the world: Tsutaya at Daikanyama T-site.

 

daikanyama-tsite-10This is not the oldest bookstore ever, and it won’t win any historical awards (although the architecture of the building has nabbed it some hefty accolades). In fact it just opened in 2011 and is still fresh in terms of new retail. But what it lacks in history is made up in how it serves as a gallery of books and curated goods that relate to them. This form of “curation” has been a concept in Japanese retail for many many years, and they call them “select shops”. So while this is a very well-stocked bookstore, it is also a lifestyle store with so many hidden treasures inside.

 

daikanyama-tsite-12Everything you need to make “kaki-gori”, Japanese shaved ice.

When I visited, there were recipe books for traditional Japanese shaved ice with local artisinal glasses and mixes being sold along side them. And, since shaved ice is a summery treat, there were traditional wind chimes next to them from a local workshop. And before you think this is only about pushing new books or selling out for big publishers, there were coves like these hidden along the shelves all throughout the three buildings that make up the whole bookstore.

 

daikanyama-tsite-08Try your luck, with the gacha-gacha toy machine!

If you’re a fan of obscure authors or artists, you’ll have a grand time. Take illustrator Keiichi Tanami and his psychedelic art book and matching tea cup set, or shirts by the ironic Tacoma Fuji Records, a record label that doesn’t actually sell music. There’s a toy machine for ¥500 to try and get odd art-inspired figurines, and a Frida Kahlo book exhibit replete with real indigenous costumes on display.

Of course, there is a big selection of western books as well as highly obscure Japanese books and magazines, like the bilingual Reality Show magazine.

daikanyama-tsite-09There’s a Starbucks coffee shop inside, and all throughout the buildings you can peruse the books with your coffee, or lounge at the many leather benches that line the glass facades. Upstairs is a special restaurant/lounge called Anjin and it houses over 30,000 vintage magazines for you to flick through. Of course, you can also look through books from the shop as well.

 

daikanyama-tsite-14But even if you leave empty handed, the setting around the T-site is something not to be missed. It’s like an oasis in the concrete jungle, and place where mostly locals come to relax with their pets (there are dog knobs on the decorative rocks outside, for locals to tie up their dogs) and bring their families for a stroll among the leafy garden. You’ll notice there are lots of specialty stores here too, such as Kitamura camera shop and Bornelund toy store. And if you have a dog at home, maybe you can shop for a stylish outfit for her at the dog goods store.

 

daikanyama-tsite-03 daikanyama-tsite-05The Ivy Place restaurant and cafe is one of the most popular joints in town, and it brings a very international flavor to the site. The neighborhood of Daikanyama is known for being where design aficionados converge. So if you’re a fan of the understated perfection, or “Muji” side of Japanese design, then the T-site and surrounding Daikanyama area cannot be missed!

 

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To get to T-site, take the train to Daikanyama Station, and find your way to the big road, walking away from the sloping hill until you see it on your right.

The business hours are also impressive, with the 1st floor (books and Starbucks) open from 7am to 2am, with the upstairs open from 9am.


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CULTURE FOOD SHOPPING TOKYO YAKUSHIMA

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About Columnist

Misha Janette
Fashion stylist-journalist-editor

Tokyo-based fashion creator-stylist-journalist-editor. Ms. Janette handled tour costumes for Nicki Minaj and collaborated in Kansai Yamamoto 2014 sales success at Isetan.She writes for media in and outside Japan and launched “Tokyo Fashion Diary” to introduce the Japan scene to the world.