Books have the power of connecting countries and cultures – as demonstrated by the tie between United States and Japan created by Kinokuniya
Books have the power of connecting countries and cultures. As it’s the case for the specific tie between United States and Japan created by Kinokuniya. Today, this bookstore brings to several US cities an extensive collection of manga, graphic novels, art and design books, cookbooks, travel books, children’s books both in English and Japanese. However, its story started with five employees in 1927 in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. There, a two-story wooden building, with a floor space of 125 square meters and an art gallery on the second floor represented the root of this journey.
In 1949, Kinokuniya started importing English books and, six years later, opened its first sales office in Osaka, Japan. This marked the beginning of the company’s nationwide expansion into the academic institutional market. The Kinokuniya Building – which has recently been conferred the designation of Tokyo Historic Building – was established in the district of Shinjuku in 1964, in a nine-story building with two underground floors. Five years later, in 1969, Kinokuniya was able to expand its market and create a bridge to the US, opening its first overseas bookstore in San Francisco, California.
This one remains located inside the Japan Center Mall, in the neighborhood of Japantown – the same location where it was first inaugurated in 1969. They started off as one of the tenants on the second floor, providing for the most part Japanese and Japan-related books and merchandise. Ten years ago, they decided to expand the space to include a portion of the first floor, which eventually became the Anime&Manga section with a wide range of Japanese and English Manga, Art books, and Anime merchandise. At the entrance, there is an illustration by Japanese artist Katsuya Terada, which was painted during a public event when he visited the store in 2013. The 2nd floor houses the sections dedicated to English and Japanese books and magazines, as well as the gift shop area.
Japantown, nestled in the heart of San Francisco, is the largest of the three remaining Japantowns in the US. These neighborhoods house stores selling Japanese products, and each year traditional festivals and celebrations are held in the streets – the Japanese ambiance is so concentrated, it feels like teleporting to Osaka. Past and present unveil their meeting point as San Francisco’s Japantown has been the center of the Bay Area’s Japanese and Japanese-American community since 1906.IMAGE GALLERY
Japan Center- Kinokuniya Building
1581 Webster St