Snow Shoveling – Dig for old classics, uncover new favourites

By Ben Davis

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From the inner-city all the way into the distant countryside, every community values the places – organised, self-made or otherwise – where they can come together and enjoy one another’s company. Located in the heart of Fukasawa, not far from Komazawa Olympic Park, the bookstore-cum-cultural space Snow Shoveling has come to serve as an informal gathering spot for both local residents and journeying book-lovers alike.

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Inspired by a handful of New York’s independent bookstores – passionate outposts led by distinctive characters – Snow Shoveling has the look and feel of a literary masterpiece, its hoardes of books and accompanying paraphenalia forever bathed in the most romantic of soft golden glows. Hidden away in an upstairs space off Komazawa Koen Dori, the eclectic store has gradually taken shape since it was opened in 2012 by graphic designer and literary fan, Shuichi Nakamura. The lengthy shelves that line the perimeter have been filled and filled again with all manner of art books, monthly magazines, novella and all-time classics; while piles of additional printed matter now sit atop tables, chairs and once-vacant floorspace. Japanese and international publications aside, the store is also home to an unique mix of artwork, vintage finds, DIY merchandise and an assortment of taxidermy – all of which come together to make browsing an adventure in itself.

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All too often a casual visit turns into an enjoyably long undertaking, so much so that it’s not unusual to find an assortment of people – from yoga instructors to photographers and university students – casually lingering mid-chapter, mid-conversation, mid-coffee (or some combination thereof) on the motley circle of armchairs and couches. The same communal atmosphere extends into the store’s regular exhibitions and events, which range from expansive vegan suppers to hip-hop panel discussions and gatherings of Snow Shoveling’s recently formed Haruki Murakami Fan Club.

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Aside from the thrill of foraging for books both familiar and foreign, perhaps the simplest pleasure comes from adopting the ritual of popping a coin into the donation box, pouring yourself a coffee and finding a comfortable seat whereby you can enjoy a quiet read or warm conversation without any concern for the outside world. Indeed, Snow Shoveling is a place where it’s all too easy to let your mind wander off as you discover your own paradise.

-Snow Shoveling
-Where: 4-35-7 Fukasawa, Setagaya
-When: 1pm-7pm




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About Columnist

Ben Davis
Editor of Thousands Tokyo

Ben is an editor, consultant and photographer who has been based in Tokyo since 2010. Following a stint with local farmers in the Japanese countryside, he now works as Editor of Thousands Tokyo, which sees him happily spend most days (and nights) exploring the world’s biggest city from the ground up.