Publishing in Japan is Awesome

Publishing in Japan is Awesome
16 March 2016 Shohei Fujita Pop Culture

You go to a big bookstore in Japan and you can find any and every kind of book. I'm not going to explain the whole history of publishing in Japan, but instead I’m going to introduce to you what bookstores in Japan are like.                

Book Store Keibunsha Ichioji (English) -

Book Store Maruzen Kyoto (Japanese) -

Book Store Tsutaya Umeda (English) -

Yes, these stores are my favorite. Comfy structures, lights are placed nicely, and most importantly the line-up of books is awesome. My last visit to Tsutaya Shoten, I found a full set of the recent “World Literature” series edited by Natsuki Ikezawa. I bought one from the series, a compilation of “To The Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf and “Wide Sargasso Sea” by Jean Rhys.

“To The Lighthouse” is a novel about a family of philosopher. The story is set in a villa near the lighthouse. “Wide Sargasso Sea” is a love story set in British colony of Jamaica, after slavery is repealed.

Not only bookstores, but also publishing companies are awesome in Japan. It's almost unbelievable that you can read “A Voyage To Arcturus” by David Lindsay, published in 1920. According to Wikipedia, the original version sold no more than 596 copies. I really can't imagine how this novel survived and came into my hands. Besides that, it’s even translated into Japanese!

A Voyage To Arcturus” is a novel with fantasy, science fiction, philosophy all combined where the hero travels to planet Tormance, an imaginary planet orbiting Arcturus.

Japan has its own literature of course. The flow of time lessens the number of works by lesser-known authors, but works of famous classics and reliable authors like Souseki Natsume, Yasunari Kawabata, Junichiro Tanizaki can always be found in any bookstore. Besides Japanese literature, there is often a corner that sells foreign books. Here you might also be able to find some works by Japanese authors which are translated into English or other languages as well.

On top of that, original overseas books are directly imported and sold at these bookstores as well. At Maruzen in Kyoto, I was lucky enough to find “Inherent Vice” by Thomas Pynchon, “Galápagos” by Kurt Vonnegut, and “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.

My wife is a huge fan of Jane Austen. She owns every single book by her. Her absolute favorite is “Pride and Prejudice” (the rightmost one). I prefer “Northanger Abbey” (Lower right corner). Of course, they’re translated version)

It seems like any type of book is translated and sold in Japan. You can buy and read books written around the world. If you can't read Japanese it doesn't matter, you can buy something and keep it on your bookshelf. They will be your talisman.

Visit any bookstore while you stay, and see the great variety of written works. Hope you find something!

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