Mar 15, 2018
My first year in Japan I didn't even get a library card for some reason. I'm a huge library fan and usually that's a priority when I move somewhere new. I guess I just assumed the library in Japan didn't have anything to offer me as an essentially illiterate foreigner. You'd be surprised though, from picture books to magazines, even beginners can find something they can look at.
When I moved to our current city, I did get a library card right away. It was probably because even before moving here I had been to the library while visiting the 'culture center' in the middle of a big park. Recently I was pleased to find out that location - the biggest library in town - has a really good selection of books in English, although it took me too long to figure that out.
Most of the English books are related to Japanese language and culture, but there also lots of English translations of books written by Japanese authors. There is a whole collection of classic English literature that I might get into as well. It isn't possible to borrow the books on my to read list, but if I just want something to read in English, I can borrow books at no cost, which is always a plus. Lately I'm enjoying getting into fiction again.
I had been ordering books on Amazon.co.jp from time to time, plus bought a couple when I visited the states. It's so nice to have something to read in English that's not on a screen. Now that I figured out that I can borrow English books at the library, another plus is that I don't have to deal with a bunch of books I'm done with but that no one wants.
I tried to sell English books to the Book Off in town, but they weren't interested. Foreign friends didn't want to read the books I had. In the end I did the Japanese thing and recycled them, because I'm not going to bring them back to the US when I visit or move back. (That extra space is reserved for lots and lots of snacks to share, always.)
If you're living in Japan and don't have a library card yet, I encourage you to get one. You'll just need a residence card or other proof of your address in the city. Some libraries have free lessons or community events as well as books. At the very least, you might be able to use their internet while you're getting yours set up at home after a move.