1. Sleep in a Bookshelf
Book and Bed is a chain of six capsule hostels. We stayed at the Tokyo Shinjuku area one. This hostel had a common area where people quietly studied, read, used the free wifi, and the beds were essentially in plywood boxes within the walls of the bookshelves. You can also purchase a day pass if you’re just looking for a quiet space to work during the day. The hostel also has a small coffee bar, so you can keep refueling while you work. While nights have the potential to be noisy because people can come and go 24/7, the hostel does provide earplugs, and we found it was not so much voices, but the creaking and scraping of plywood as people came and went and the heat in our capsule that kept us up. I would recommend at least a night at Book and Bed for the experience.
*Full disclosure: I did wake up with some unidentified bites, but my partner did not. Next time I would try one of the other Book and Bed hostels.
2. Visit Tokyo’s Book Town: Jimbocho
The Jimbocho neighborhood of Tokyo, known as Tokyo’s “Book Town” has 200-300 second-hand bookstores. Some of these bookstores have English/Foreign Language sections. You’ll also find cafes and work space in some of the bigger bookstores. We ate at the Paperback Cafe and checked out the Kitazawa Book Store, which has been around since 1902!
3. Get a Book Wrapped
In Japan when you buy a book you can ask to have it wrapped. Each bookstore will have cover paper with their store logo on it. You’ll notice people on the subway reading print books will have covers on their books. It not only keeps their book clean, but also allows the reader privacy in their choice of reading.
4. Take a literary inspired visit to the Kitchen District
Just like the Jimbocho neighborhood was dedicated to books, the Kapabashi neighborhood is full of kitchen utensil shops. One of the scene’s in Hiromi Kawakami’s Strange Weather in Tokyo takes place in the Kapabashi area. The main character wanders the knife shops.
5. Buy a fancy book cover
If you’ve bought one of the smaller Japanese size books, instead of leaving on the wrapping from the bookstore, you can buy a longer-lasting, fancier book cover. Head to Sanseido Bookstore in the Jimbocho area for cloth, bamboo, leather, or other paper book cover options.
6. Have a mini Alice in Wonderland Tea Party for one
Bar Zikkai looks like the inside of a gentleman’s private library. While it is a nice place for a drink, there is also an afternoon service of literary inspired mocktails which includes the cutest tea party you’ve ever seen. Arrive between 3-6pm and have an Alice in Wonderland tea party for one!
How to Get Around
We were told by several people that Tokyo’s subway system was confusing. We found the best way to navigate it was to get an IC Card when we arrived and reload it with money as needed. We also found that most subway stops had information windows with English speaking attendants who could help direct us when we got lost. We found that most people in Tokyo were able to speak enough English to direct us and when we looked lost, locals would ask us if we needed directions. We also downloaded the Japanese language dictionary on the Google Translate app so between the translation app and Google Maps we could even ask for help from those that didn’t speak English.
Have you been to Tokyo? Would you sleep in a bookshelf? Have you read any books that take place in Tokyo? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
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