English library in Tokyo?
June 14, 2007 1:33 PM   Subscribe

Is there a good English library in Tokyo? What about used bookstores?

I'm moving to Tokyo next week and would like to find an English language library/used bookstore. There are a few suggestions I've found on google that I plan to check out (here) but I'd like to see what the hive mind suggests. Thanks!
posted by rsk to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Don't know about libraries, but Good Day Books in Ebisu is a fine used (English) book store in Tokyo.
posted by Rash at 1:43 PM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I will answer the question as if you are talking about Kyoto (because that is what I know) and hope that it might be helpful for Tokyo as well.

The Japan Foundation has English books. You will need to sign up with them, but after that you are good to go. There is even a Japan Foundation office in Toronto, so I would hope there is one in Tokyo.

Local libraries will also have non-Japanese books. The bigger your library, the more selection they will have. All I needed for my library card was to show them my Gaijin card. BUT if you have just moved, you may need to update your Gaijin card first so that it has a Tokyo address, as otherwise you may not be able to get a library card.

In Kyoto we also had an international community centre. They had a nice reading room, but you weren't able to sign any of the books out. Maybe if there is one in Tokyo it will let you sign out books.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:58 PM on June 14, 2007

Seconding Good Day Books. The Blue Parrot is nice too, and there are a few stores in Jimbocho that sell English books. (I can't remember their names, sorry... but if you like books you should enjoy wandering around that area and searching for them anyway!)

Don't know much about libraries.
posted by No-sword at 2:25 PM on June 14, 2007

Sec- thirding Good Day. I'm on the mailing list for their monthly newsletter, and they have an nice little event schedule for expats. I could probably forward you a couple of issues, if you're interested.
posted by ormondsacker at 3:11 PM on June 14, 2007

British Councils around the world often have libraries which lend books for a fee after you become a member - here's the one in Tokyo.
posted by mdonley at 3:18 PM on June 14, 2007

I would recommend Tower Records in Shibuya, Kinokuniya, in Takashima Times Square in Shinjuku, the Yaesu Bookstore across the street from the East side of Tokyo Station, the Tuttle Bookstore in Jinbo-cho.

Jinbo-cho is a destination itself if you are a booklover.

Bondi Books is also worth a visit.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:30 PM on June 14, 2007

Aoyama Book Center is not a used book store, nor is it primarily an English bookstore, but they carry quite a range of fiction and non-fiction in English, including quite a good selection of design books. Also, they often have "rainy-day" sales where the English paperbacks are half-off, and the occasional clearance of old stock. The ABC Outlet in Roppongi apparently specializes in ABC's unsold English stock.

Also, just in case you weren't aware, Tower and Kinokuniya don't sell used books, English or otherwise. They have a great selection of new books, though, so I still recommend paying them a visit. Here's a map for Bondi Books in Kichijoji that KokuRyu mentioned.
posted by armage at 5:21 PM on June 14, 2007

Yeah, I realized after posting that all of my recommendations, save for Bondi, were for NEW bookstores.

Still, Jinbocho is the place to go on a beautiful sunny day in mid-winter...
posted by KokuRyu at 6:13 PM on June 14, 2007

Kitazawa Books is also in Jinbo-cho. I've picked up some fun used books there in the past.
posted by chihiro at 7:33 PM on June 14, 2007

Check out the British Council and their American counterpart—I’m sure they have offices in Tokyo, and they probably have decent libraries. Aimed at locals, not ex-pats, but they probably won’t turn you away.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 3:31 AM on June 15, 2007

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