Best Bookstore Chain: Kinokuniya

With its shelves packed to bursting, Kinokuniya is like the Mr. Creosote of bookstores: Just one more Haruki Murakami, you think, one more pink-covered tween fashion mag, and the place might explode. Tucked into a corner of the Uwajimaya complex in the ID, it’s an outpost of Japan’s largest bookstore chain (at last count, 56 locations in Japan, 28 outside). The lower level carries books in English about Japanese history, politics, crafts, cuisine, art books, language instruction, and more. The upper level is filled with books in Japanese. One entire side is filled with manga, tightly shrink-wrapped to look like DVDs. A back corner offers kid stuff. Beside that are shelves of beautiful notebooks and writing implements for the back-to-school shopper with exquisite taste. There are films, too, including the decades-long series starring “Tora-San, Japan’s Most Lovable Loser!” There’s something else I was curious about, supposedly a significant part of Japanese pop culture, though I’m a little embarrassed to ask. Oh, here we are: Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love. Love Infusion. See Me After Class. Interesting . . . 

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