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Best Selection of Foreign Books in Sendai
The national chain of booksellers Maruzen operates its Sendai store out of the majority of the first floor of the AER building near Sendai Station. Coming in the entrance closest to the station, you first see a Docomo shop on one side and a small event space (gallery in this picture) on the other, but trudging forward you will find first the greeting card section on the right, followed by the magazines (rack and rack and rack of magazines) while the left side is set off by the row of cashiers followed by more serious Japanese books on a variety of subjects.
Things are laid out easily on maps that can be found attached to pillars here and there, but if you're looking for the foreign language books and/or proper study material, keep walking straight down that first aisle the doors open onto. As the magazine racks end, take a left and walk past the escalators. The first thing that tells you this is the English section is the magazines on the racks, including serious news publications as well as fashion and business options. On a rack on the wall, traditional postcards can be found stationed across the aisle from language learning toys for kids.
The selection of kids books is fair, though any specific, personal and nostalgic titles might be better purchased from an internet retailer. Still, Maruzen carries a decent selection of kid stuff, and a fair amount of contemporary adult fiction. The nonfiction section isn't awful, especially for Japan, but if you're really into the life stories of people alive and dead internet retailers and/or audio books are what I would recommend over picking up a copy here.
Past the fiction shelves there is a small translated manga section and a much larger educational materials section, including options for English language learners, English speakers studying Japanese, and a small host of other options. The English and Japanese materials do have the most variance in style, type, and mere number of options available. There are textbooks for adults and children as well as props, games and posters for the younger English student or the English teacher's classroom.
While there is another English book section in the bookstore in the nearby eBeans, I found the selection in Maruzen to be significantly better, though that could be partially because the bookstore in eBeans is somewhat less intuitively organized. The basic 1 level floor map of Maruzen make it a lot easier to navigate. The eBeans bookseller takes up a small section of a number of floors and finding one map with information about all of the sections on all of the floors it proved impossible for me some years ago.
If you're looking for some book-related entertainment in Sendai, whether it's some extremely popular English fiction or the newest copy of Vogue or a bit of translated manga or new Japanese study materials for your JPLT, Maruzen is probably your best shot. This is not just because the organization of materials makes it a better choice, but also because it is slightly closer to Sendai Station as well.