There are countless places in Japan for the eager anime and manga fan to visit, but one area that can be quite rewarding for anyone who desires a sense of history is Jimbocho, the “book town” of Tokyo.
Located in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, Jimbocho boasts over 200 bookstores. These are not limited to manga or manga-related texts, but even within the realm of Japanese comics, it’s still an amazing treasure trove. While nearby famed otaku tourism spots like Akihabara, Ikebukuro, and Nakano Broadway have their own opportunities to find old and new merchandise, Jimbocho provides a unique experience.
The Cultural Power of Bookstores
In a time when the future of print media is in question, the cultural and historical importance of physical books permeates Jimbocho. It’s a great place to pick up old and obscure anime and manga-related publications, including manga from forty, fifty, and even sixty to seventy years ago. For anime fans, you can find stores that sell anime magazines featuring the popular hits of yesteryear. Below are some of the things I managed to find on a previous trip.
The Home Base of Manga Publishers
Another notable aspect of Jimbocho pertaining to manga is that it’s home to two of the biggest Japanese manga publishers: Shueisha and Shogakukan. Shueisha is the company behind popular Shonen Jump titles like Dragon Ball, Naruto, My Hero Academia, and Demon Slayer. There’s even an old Shueisha sign near Jimbocho Subway Station, showing their long presence in the area. Shogakukan publishes Shonen Sunday, which is home to acclaimed hits such as Detective Conan, Inuyasha, and Dagashi Kashi. Manga publisher Kadokawa is nearby as well, located in Fujimi, Chiyoda Ward. None of these offices are necessarily open to the public, but perhaps there might be opportunities given the importance of the 2020 Olympics.
Read or Die
Jimbocho might also sound familiar to some anime and manga fans because of its prominence in the Read or Die franchise. The book town is the home of heroine Yomiko Readman—a perfect place for such a complete bibliophile—and her friend Nenene is published by Shueisha. If you can recall the endless bookshelves and archives from Yomiko’s trips through the area, you can already get a sense of the atmosphere of Jimbocho.
The Analog in a World of Digital
Can’t get to Jimbocho? There are many cool things from Japan that you can get digitally through iTunes or other gift card services, such as ebooks, music, and extra gacha chances in the latest mobile games. The easy access is a boon to fans all over the world. However, there’s nothing quite like getting your hands on something you didn’t even know existed, and Jimbocho is a spot that can provide that physical sensation over and over again. It’s worth a visit or twenty.