A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Tsutaya Brings Books Back in Big Way to Tsukuba (at the Lala Garden Shopping Mall)


Flowers for the opening

In Japan there are always plenty of fresh flowers for the opening of a new shop – so at the end of May you were able to find the location of the new Tsukuba book store and dvd rental outlet at the Lala Garden Mall with yor nose!

By Avi Landau

Things were getting pretty grim for  bibliophiles living here in Tsukuba. Yes, Amazon.com and other websites make it possible to browse millions of books, and what you order will arrive at your doorstep the next morning (or at least within a few days) – Thousands more great (and not so great) books can be read in their entirety for free online.

But for those of us who need the fell of the fresh page and the smell of the paper and ink – computer or tablet reading or browsing just doesn`t cut it . For most of my life, hardy a day had gone by without my entering some bookstore or another (even in countries I couldn`t even make out the script, let alone read a novel) – it`s been a long addiction – one I had never even tried to break.


A branch of Saza Coffee (.ounded originally in northern Ibaraki Prefecture) – you are allowed to read in-store books while you caffeinate – something rare in Japan

But this year has been disasterous – one bookstore going under after the other… and withdrawal symptoms setting in – shaking, night sweats, the chills, hallucinations…..

The prayers I hadn`t said… hadn`t even thought about for years… were now on lips again… in the ancient tongue…. I needed to be walking down aisles browsing new titles, taking out volumes, flipping fresh pages…..

and then….well… not exactly a miracle…but something life-changing (for me, at least!) – the Tsukuba book and video rental store that had long been near the International Congess Hall (and had recently closed down) re-opened – on a much larger and fancier scale at the Lala Garden Shopping Mall (which is managed by Mitsui Real-estate) in Ononzaki, Tsukuba – about one km west of Tsukuba Center.

As you can guess – I`ve going there every day – and I can take care of my other addiction (coffee) while I`m there (the proverbial killing of two birds with one stone!) as there is a Saza Coffee shop right in the bookstore! Guess where I am now, writing this….. with no more shakes or monkey on my back!


They`ve got about 20,000 book in stock at the new Tsutaya – though only a few dozen of them are in English – still the beaty of the printing and astounding variety of titles and subject covered should inspire you to quicken your studies of written Japanese!

Bookstores are a great place to get a sense of Japan`s ever-changing trends – in tastes and attitudes. If you haven`t been to one in ten years, one thing you are sure to notice is the quantity of books and magazines arousing interest in things military ( a reflection of Prime Minister Abe`s to revise Japan`s constitution?) – and  agressively promoting anti-Korean and Chinese feelings.

Another astounding feature is the rise in publications on traditional Japanese customs and Japanee history ( something that TsukuBlog has had been already focsing on for years!) – and there`s always your assortment of dangerous conspiracy theory books and mags right there next to all the more respectable and reliable publications. Anyway – tracking what`s going on at your local bookstore is definitely worthwhile if you what to keep track of what the mood is in this country – and it will definitely spur you on to further your studies of written Japanese!

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