In my article in Newsletter number 63 (January 2014), I wrote about several exhibitions in Nagoya museums featuring displays of ancient Japanese texts and important works of old and modern calligraphy.
Since then, I have continued my investigations, exploring bookshops and book markets in and around Nagoya, Japan’s third largest urban area. I have acquired antiquarian books which excited my interest and I have learnt interesting facts about books and authors from shop owners.
I have been mainly interested in older books but I also browse at retailers
of new books to see what the latest titles are.
The biggest book business in Nagoya is Maruzen & Junkudō
丸善＆ジュンク堂. A large store is located in the “Loft” in the Nadya Park building in the commercial Sakae
栄 district. You can see the expanse of the store from the photos on the bookstores web site:
There are many catalogue terminals in the shop where you can check on title availability or do keyword searches.
There are other Maruzen stores in Sakae and other districts. Like many stores, bookshops encourage shoppers to apply for "point cards". These are shoppers' cards which get discounts, give access to promotional sales and build up "points". Maruzen & Junkudo and Bunkyodo issue the point card "Honto". Apart from building up points, readers can use the Honto card online system to search for and order e-books and print books.
is a Japan wide chain of stores selling recent second hand books in good condition. Their stores have large stocks of books. In particular, their hard cover books and reference books are in good-as-new condition and have quite reasonable prices. The stores also sell second hand CDs, DVDs and manga as well as second hand clothes and personal accessories, mobile phones and electrical goods. Since they get their stock from local sellers in Nagoya, their stores often stock illustrated catalogues of past exhibitions originally purchased from local museums and galleries in Nagoya.
I have observed staff checking in fresh stock. They carefully wipe the cover of each book with a cloth before putting them on the shelves.
Book Off also has a web site for online sales:
Tsuruzonomaedōri shopping district
The main concentration of independent shops selling old books is in the shopping area just west of Tsurumai Station
鶴舞駅 known as Tsuruzonomaedōri shōtengai
鶴園前通り商店街 the main shopping area facing Tsurumai Park
鶴舞公園 and Tsurumai Station. Actually it is the eastern end of Ōsudōri
大須通り road. Shops selling old and antiquarian books line both sides of the road. It reminds me somewhat of the secondhand bookshop district in Jimbōchō
神保町 in Tōkyō.
Walking in a westerly direction, the bookshops continue
until the intersection with Ōtsudōri 大津通り road where you can turn right at the
Sanshōdō 三松堂 bookshop and thereafter find more bookshops at intervals along the
road. You can continue walking along this road until you reach the Sakae
There are other independent sellers of old books scattered throughout Nagoya and they are usually a short walk from a train station.
Unfortunately, there are fewer of these shops than there used to be. One reason must be the increase in online book sales. Simone (2011) says that Book Off’s cheaper prices has put a lot of pressure on small individually run shops.
These sellers of old books usually have an internet home page where one can view their recent acquisitions, do title searches and place orders.
These book shops usually specialise in particular subjects, genres and formats. Sellers of old wahon
和本 (Japanese books in traditional stitched format) include Iijima Shoten 飯島書店, Fushimiya Shoten
伏見屋書店 and Fujisono Shoten 藤園書店. Other book shops sell ephemera, ukiyoe art, art, postcards, movie posters, etc.
Visiting Markets and Book Fairs
The Ōsu Kannon antique market 大須観音骨董市 is held twice monthly in front of the Ōsu Kannon temple (otherwise known as Shinpukuji
真福寺) in central Nagoya. Apart from antiques and collectibles, market stalls sell old books, postcards, calligraphy accessories and paintings. I like the market for its surprises and good prices.
An annual old book sale, Maruei kosho sokubaikai
丸栄古書即売会, is held at the Maruei Department Store in the Sakae
栄 district. Stock from several
sellers of old books are arranged on the tables.
Book sales are held at the headquarters of the Nagoya Old Book Association (Nagoya kosho kaikan no kosho sokubaikai
名古屋古書会館の古書即売会) in Maruta chō
丸田町. A large crowd of buyers turns up at the opening time, so you need to get there early if you want to view the full range of books on sale.
Regular sales of old and antiquarian are also also held in nearby Kasugai city (Rivin Kasugai kosho sokubai ichi
リヴィン春日井古書即売市) and at the Nagoya Museum (Nagoya Hakubutsukan kosho ichi
Another one is the annual Hōsa Bunko Old Book Market (Hōsa Bunko Kosho Ichi
蓬左文庫古書市). This is held just inside the entrance of the Hōsa Bunko library. The Hōsa Bunko is next to the Tokugawa Art Museum.
If you have the spare time to attend these sales, you will find some interesting and unexpected books and other printed materials that may appeal to you.
Antique enthusiasts look forward to the annual Nagoya Antique Fair is held in the Fukiage Hall
吹上ホール, not far from Fukiage Station. Some old books can be found amongst the antiques on display in the numerous stalls. The stall holders are from local Nagoya antique shops as well as antique dealerships from elsewhere in Japan.
I went to the Fair two years ago and saw some interesting early twentieth century books, calligraphic materials, postcards and ephemera amongst the general antiques. At that time I thought everything was quite pricey.
In 2015 I went there on the afternoon of the last day. As the stall holders started to pack up I noticed that they were encouraging the visitors with discounted prices. I stopped at a stall to admire a copy of Hitori uranai ekigaku zenshū
独占易学全書 (明治36年), a book about Yijing studies, in six fascicles with traditional binding and casing. It was priced at 10,000 yen but when the stall holder saw me handling it, he immediately dropped the price to 5000 yen and I bought it.
Pamphlets, Newsletters, etc.
For anyone with the time and interest to visit shrines and temples, public institution such as museums, towers and historical sites, there are opportunities to pick up free brochures, pamphlets, postcards and ephemera. These items are really interesting for reflecting the ideas and values of particular times and places. When I visit music stores I look for publications on the enka
演歌 genre of music. Here are a couple of free serials I collect, which contain news of interest to enka fans.
When I visit the monthly market at the Nittaiji
日泰寺 temple in Kakuōzan
覚王山 I collect this free newsletter on Buddhist topics which is handed out at the entrances to the temple grounds. It is put by the politician Ōtsuka Kōhei
Here is a pilgrimage map for temples in the Chita Peninsula 知多半島 which I collected at 大智院 temple when I visited there in 2014.
There is also the vast field of ephemera. I hope I can write about that in the future.
When it comes to checking for antiquarian titles online, the best starting point is the web site of the Tōkyō kosho kumiai 東京古書組合 (Japanese Association of Dealers in Old Books). It covers antiquarian book sellers and old book sales for all of Japan:
One can do searches on the web site and also check on upcoming book fairs around the nation.
Apart from Book-Off, mentioned above, the main online book services are Amazon Japan, Seven & i, Kinokuniya Web Store, Bunkyodo J-book, Maruzen-Junkudo, Rakuten books, Tsutaya and Honto.
Although it might be quick and easy to purchase online, it can't beat chatting with the staff at independent book sellers and getting their reading suggestions and absorbing some of their knowledge about their stock and books generally. One really needs to examine these old books in person to see what they are like. And if you want to land a bargain, you need to go to the markets.
Studies of the Antiquarian Book Trade
Mr Suzuki Hajime 鈴木創, the proprietor of the Shimauma Bookshop シマウマ書房 in the Nagoya district of Motoyama 本山 has recently put out a book in which he surveys the sellers of old and antiquarian books in Nagoya and surrounding prefectures : Nagoya Furuhon Annai なごや古本屋案内 (2013). His book includes bibliographic essays and interviews with book sellers and an historical overview of the book trade in Nagoya.
Mr Suzuki’s bookshop web site Shimauma Books (www.shimauma-books.com) includes information about upcoming lectures and events on books in Nagoya.
Another book enthusiast is Mr Koyama Rikiya 小山力也. He is a graphic designer in Tokyo and has been visiting antiquarian bookshops in Japan for the past nine years with the heroic aim of seeing and describing all of them. He has a unique and interesting blog where he records his visits to the bookshops.
Furuhonya Tsuā in Japan 古本屋ツアー・イン・ジャパン
Mr Koyama started his blog in 2008. When he was managing the web site for a music group and accompanied them on tours around Japan, he took the opportunity to visit antiquarian and second hand bookshops along the way. He says that a lot has been written about antiquarian and second books but writings about the shops themselves are sparse. His blog writings and his two volume book, Furuhonya tsuā in Japan: zenkoku koshoten meguri, chinki de yukai na 150 no omise 古本屋ツアー・イン・ジャパン ：全国古書店めぐり、珍奇で愉快な一五０のお店 (2014), includes descriptions of many shops in Nagoya and thus overlaps with Mr Suzuki’s book. He describes external appearance of bookshops (including his approach walking to the shops), the inside layout and the sorts of books and people he finds inside. His book has a selection of the bookshops covered in his blog. There is also a list of all the book shops he has visited. He notes which ones have closed, gone to online sales only, changed name or changed location. So far he has visited 1550 shops around Japan. He is about half way with another thousand or so to visit. The description for each bookshop includes a photo of the exterior and interior view. Shop styles range from garage roller door buildings to traditional style buildings.
It is worthwhile consulting these two books if you are interested in visiting antiquarian and second hand bookshops around Nagoya. They also have a mine of information about the book trade.
When I first visited Nagoya, I was at a loss where to start investigating books and bookshops in this large metropolis. I first started picking up information about the book trade from articles in the Chūnichi Shimbun
中日新聞 newspaper, which features a wide range of interesting stories on local topics. From there I went on to read the books and web sites mentioned above and started picking up fliers about book sales.
I trust that my two articles in the ALRA Newsletter may be of interest to like-minded book collectors and librarians. I hope I have given you a glimpse of how much interesting exploring there is still to do!
Koyama, Rikiya 小山力也.
Furuhonya tsuā in Japan: zenkoku koshoten meguri, chinki de yukai na 150 no omise 古本屋ツアー・イン・ジャパン
: 全国古書店めぐり、珍奇で愉快な一五０のお店. Tōkyō 東京: Hara Shobō 原書房, 2014.
Suzuki, Hajime 鈴木創.
Nagoya furuhonya annai : Aichi, Gifu, Mie なごや古本屋案：愛知・岐阜・三重. Nagoya 名古屋: Fūbaisha 風媒社, 2013
Simone, Gianni. “Tokyo’s bookworms find reader’s paradise in used bookstores”, in
Japan Times, 24 December 2011 (online, accessed 28 November 2015).
Tani, Chika 谷知佳. “Zenkoku no koshoten wo meguri tanbōki wo burogu nado de hasshin suru 全国の古書店を巡り探訪記をブログなどで発信する,” in
Chūnichi Shimbun 中日新聞, 10 October 2015, p.3.
Furuhonya tsuā in Japan 古本屋ツアー・イン・ジャパン
http://furuhonya-tour.seesaa.net/ (accessed 28 November 2015)
Maruzen & Junkudo
www.junkudo.co.jp/mj/store/store_detail.php?store_id=212 (accessed 28 November 2015)
Nihon no koshoya 日本の古本屋
www.kosho.or.jp (accessed 28 November 2015)
Shimauma Books シマウマ書房 www.shimauma-books.com (accessed 28 November 2015)