Tsutaya Tokyo Roppongi
Azabu-Juban: Bookstore
Tsutaya Tokyo Roppongi: Azabu-Juban
Azabu-Juban / Bookstore
Open 7am-4am daily.

Booksellers in Japan have a generous tradition of letting their customers stand and read books at length before buying (or not buying), but the Tsutaya chain of book/record stores have gone one better than most. In their new Roppongi store, they provide comfy seats, a slightly more elegant than usual shop design and caffeine on hand in the form of a Starbucks coffee shop actually inside the Tsutaya store.

At least one copy of each book and magazine on sale is available to thumb through as you sit and sip your drink. (Tsutaya, like other retailers has a deal where books that get too grubby are replaced by the publisher at no cost). The rest are carefully wrapped in plastic safe from flying espresso. You can even take books and magazines over to read in the cafe.

There is an eclectic selection of CDs and DVDs for sale on the 2nd floor where the usual J-pop heavy stock has been eschewed for a wider range of music genres. The DVD section also has more than just films and music videos; there is a nice selection of animated films and shorts. The shop has a small exhibition space in one corner on the 1st floor - with a selection of architecture books when we visited. There is also a small children's play area with plenty of well-used kids' books in English and Japanese.

The shop has a quite different feel to other Tsutaya shops - gentle jazz and classical background music and a spacious, friendly shop design. It has been designed to attract a slightly more mature cosmopolitan crowd than Tsutaya's usual 20-something customers. The bookstacks are all marked in English, and Japanese and non-Japanese books share the same shelves. The selection is weighted towards glossy 'lifestyle' books (on travel, food, interior-design etc).

A manager said the store had been designed as "a space to help people relax." There are even school-room type chairs with little platforms to rest your coffee on as you curl up with a favorite tome.

by Tony McNicol
Minato-ku, Roppongi 6-11-1.
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