In Bunkitsu, Immerse Yourself in a World of Thirty Thousand Books


WordsAya Ogawa

A new form of bookstore, Bunkitsu, has opened in the Roppongi district of Tokyo. The special feature of this store is that it charges admission. ‘How can bookstores remain viable as pleasant places to visit?’ To answer that question, members from Smiles, which operates Soup Stock Tokyo, Morioka Shoten, known as ‘the bookstore that sells one book‘, and the curated brand Yours Book Store, arrived at an idea more than one year ago of ‘offering time to relish culture itself’, thus giving birth to the concept and the name of ‘Bunkitsu’ (culture + relish). Sensing the risk that physical bookstores might vanish, and wanting to help people stay connectedwith books, the members established Bunkitsu in Roppongi as a space where people could encounter books. Everybody can interact with books one by one in their own way, making Bunkitsu a place that affirms the value of giving people unhurried time to delve into the world of books and stories.

The creative team from Smiles, responsible for the graphics and interior design, not only laid out the store in a thoughtful way, but also retained many of the cultural memories of the bookstore that formerly occupied the space, leaving parts of the old walls, floors, and fittings in tact. The pink color iconically used on signs and pamphlets, items in the tea room, the floor and elsewhere has been named ‘first love pink’, symbolizing the passion of falling in love with a book. Production and book selection are being directed by Yours Book Store. Together with the staff of LibroPlus, in charge of day-to-day management of the bookstore, they will be updating the lineup of books according to the requirements and trends of the guests.

Well, let’s take a look inside. Passing through the entrance, a space opens up—the ‘showroom’ where special exhibits about books are held. The far end of the showroom is the reception area. After paying an admission fee, a guest receives an entry badge and climbs the stairway to enter a world of approximately 30,000 books. Admission to the first floor is free of charge. The first area on the second floor is the book selection room. Bookshelves have been organized according to topics, regardless of book format or publisher, with a wonderful selection for genres such as art, design, and architecture, as well as excellent books on the humanities, such as classics and literature interspersed with visual books—all selected according to Bunkitsu’s high standards.

Once you’re holding the right book in your hands, you can step into the adjacent tea room. Here you can enjoy original brands as well as traditional green tea, always with free refills. If you feel hungry, there’s a magnificent menu from entrees to deserts, such as ‘Hashed beef cheek meat with rice’ (hayashi rice), ‘Shrimp and rice au gratin’ (Ebi doria), and ‘Enchanted custard pudding’. Among the various types of rooms there are reading rooms for those who prefer to read books quietly at a desk, and seminar rooms that groups can use. This is a no-smoking establishment. The tea room and reading room are fully equipped with electrical outlets and free Wifi for those who want to use laptops, making this a good environment for people who want to work away from the office. Why not experience a new style of bookstore, created by a team who loves books and bookstores.


1F Roppongi Denki Bldg, 6-1-20 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo


Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 11 p.m. (L.O. in the café: 10:30 p.m.)

Closed irregularly

Admission: ¥1,620 (including tax)