Books have the power of connecting different countries and cultures. As it’s the case for the specific tie between United States and Japan created by Kinokuniya
Books have the power of connecting different 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 designated as a Tokyo Historic Building – was established in the district of Shinjuku in 1964. The building consists of nine stories and two underground floors. Five years later, in 1969, Kinokuniya opened also its first overseas bookstore in San Francisco, California.
This one remains located inside Japan Center mall at Japantown, the same location of 1969. They started off as one of the tenants on the 2nd floor, providing mostly Japanese and Japan related books and merchandise, but, 10 years ago, they expanded the space to include a portion of the 1st floor which eventually became Anime/Manga section with a wide range of Japanese and English Manga, Art books, and Anime merchandise. At the entrance, there is also an illustration drawn by Japanese artist, Katsuya Terada, which was live-painted when he visited the store in 2013. The 2nd floor is where general English and Japanese books, magazines and gift items are allocated.
San Francisco’s Japantown is nestled in the heart of the city and it’s the largest of the three remaining Japantown’s in the US. There it is possible to find shops, festivals and experiences. In a way, visiting this venue is like taking a quick trip to Osaka and immersing yourself in Japanese culture, old and new. 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.
Japan Center- Kinokuniya Building
1581 Webster St, San Francisco