Maruzen Marunouchi Main (Book) Store

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  • Tomuu

    on May 29

    Probably the best book store in Tokyo

    I remain pretty convinced that the branch of Maruzen in the Marunouci 'oazo' building outside of Tokyo Station is the best book store in Tokyo.  Unless you're after used / second hand books, in which case it definitely isn't as all the books in this large store are new.

    This branch of Maruzen occupies four floors but it's the fourth floor that will be of most interest to most people reading this; this is where the English (and other foreign-language) books are to be found.

    The strength of this store lies in its diversity covering, as it does, most genres that people might be looking for.  If you're after something 'educational' or something more learned you'll find genres that include - economics, business, history, politics, religion, sociology, popular science (Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris et al), and computing/programming among others.  Most of these have a good row of shelving to their own.  Books are organised alphabetically, and are often divided into sub genres.  

    English teachers will find a good selection of teaching textbooks and textbook sets.  Japanese language learners are also well served here.

    In terms of novels, all the 'big new releases' have their own set of shelves which you can see as soon as you get off the escalator from the lower floors and then the older titles are further in the back of the store.  There are quite a few shelves devoted to 'classics' which cover later authors like those from the 'Beat Generation' (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs) and then back in time from there to the usual suspects (Dickens, Conrad, Bronte, ...).  For me, it's a good selection, perhaps the best I've seen in Tokyo.  

    Books relating to Japan have their own plot of land and are divided into novels / social commentary, and travel.  On the theme of the latter, you can find plenty of titles from Lonely Planet here.  

    There are magazines and newspapers for sale here, too, as well as an impressive collection of photography books (as in the coffee table kind), and those relating to hobbies, crafts, design, and fashion.

    If there is a complaint about Maruzen (although it's a little pedantic), it's that with so much on offer, if you don't have a clear idea what you're looking for, it can be a little overwhelming.  Also, the store is guilty of doing that thing that a lot of book stores in Japan do, selling a bunch of pointless, and poncey, nick knacks.  OK, the stationary I can understand (a bit) but things like boring hand bags I just don't get and give me the impression that they just want to flog any old nonsense to customers while they've got them in the store.  That said, you can find a pretty good selection of greetings cards here.  Another slight gripe, if I may, is that the staff here all have the manner of someone who doesn't really want to deal with you.  I don't think this is coincidence.  I think it's the shop's attempt to appear serious, learned and bookish.  It doesn't work and isn't necessary.  

    Anyway, those gripes aside, there's much to discover and enjoy in this branch of Maruzen and I've rarely come here and not been able to find that book which I was looking for (or at least somewhere in the ballpark) or, indeed, some gem that I wasn't looking for.  Highly recommended, although all the books being new, a little expensive also.

    To get to this branch of Maruzen, from Tokyo Station take the 'JR Marunouchi North Exit'.  Turn right out of that and you'll see the 'Marunouchi oazo' building in front of you across the street.  It's next to the Marunouchi Hotel.  Enter 'oazo' through the entrance at street level and Maruzen is on your right.

    Hours: 9:00 - 21:00

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