Jun 112012

Umeda is one of Osaka’s most exciting neighborhoods. Located in the city’s business and commerce hub, it’s a great place to find cool digs, forward leaning fashion, an urban ferris wheel, the latest flicks, a worldwide sample of foods, fast trains (the JR, Hankyu, Keihan and other lines all meet there), shopping, art galleries and more…

The Entrance to Maruzen / Junkudo in Chayamachi, Umeda, Osaka

Working in Umeda is a stimulating experience. The busy downtown, the pulsing crowds, the traffic rush, and the continuous distraction can be overwhelming. On the other hand the constant buzz can add up to an accumulated blandness, if you know what I mean. My solution to the sensory bombardment and boredom is to head over to Maruzen / Junkudo bookstore. It resides in the first eight floors of the beautiful Chaska Chayamachi Tower. The striking design is another signature reinforced concrete building by Osaka architect Ando Tadao completed in 2010. On hand are literally hundreds of magazine titles, and that’s only counting the Japanese publications. There are 9 floors of books, stationery, manga (this has it’s own basement level floor), and an iPhone / iPad repair and accessories station. There is an extensive collection of foreign language books as well.

Some of the interesting finds include magazines like WonderJapan (ワンダー), a campy guidebook of roadside Japanicana including odd locales, forgotten attractions,abandoned amusement parks, obscure statues of idols, ruins, and other assorted weird worlds for you to discover throughout Japan. Upstairs you’ll find some materials for English language teachers located along with games and puzzles for helping students learn. On three floors there are balconies to sit, read, take in the ambiance and do some discreet people-watching. There are great finds including photography books, children’s books and the latest Japanese literature.

Bookstores are very popular in Japan and perhaps as a result, books can be expensive. Other bookstores I have found can’t afford to provide much space to comfortably scrutinize the books and magazines. However, I can spend hours ( ok, ok … in all honestly days) checking my finds while I, ahem, consider a new purchase at Maruzen / Junkudo because it is so spacious and comfortable.

What is my personal favorite section? I suppose it is the foreign language SF stacks. All the greats are represented here like J.G. Ballard, Ben Bova, Arthur C. Clarke, William Gibson and Philip K. Dick. I currently have got my eye on a paperback copy of “The Man in the High Castle”. So come on down to Umeda, have a coffee at Tully’s and then pop across the street to Maruzen / Junkudo. I’ll be in the S.F. Section…

Maruzen / Junkudo Bookstore is located at Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku, Chayamachi, 7-20. (34.707478,135.500124) Store hours are from 10am – 10pm

Osaka Ali




May 252011

I just heard about this and thought our viewers & listeners would be interested.  It really covers nearly everything you need to know if you’re going to live in Japan.

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan (English and Japanese Edition)


Contents: Chapter 1 – Arriving and Establishing Residency in Japan;

Chapter 2 – Stabilizing Employment and Lifestyles;

Chapter 3 – Starting a Business;

Chapter 4 – What To Do If … Resolving Problems;

Chapter 5 – Retirement and Planning for the Future;

Chapter 6 – Giving Something Back … Developing Japan’s Civil Society to Help Multiculturalism in Japan;

Chapter 7 – Summarizing … What You Should Do to Create Stronger Roots in Japanese Society.икони

Aug 312010

From manga and anime to movies, magazines, video games, advertising and music, Japanese schoolgirls are everywhere.

For years, schoolgirls have shown up in internationally popular anime such as Sailor MoonThe Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Blood: The Last Vampire. Films such as Battle Royale inspired Quentin Tarantino to include a fighting schoolgirl in Kill Bill; and recently, Rinko Kikuchi received an Oscar nomination for her role as a schoolgirl in the film Babel.

There are schoolgirl characters in video games such as Street Fighter. And the “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” column in Wired magazine has long kept an eye on the trends emerging among these stylish teens. In effect, the Japanese schoolgirl has all but replaced the “geisha-girl” as Japan’s new female icon.

This is a “must have” for any serious Japanophile, anime otaku, or fan of Japanese school girls.

If you’ve ever wondered about the origins of the sailor suit uniform, or are fascinated with the power these teenagers hold over the Japanese economy, this book is for you.

Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential: How Teenage Girls Made a Nation Cool

Manga Sale!

 Books  Comments Off
Mar 202009

Well, as far as I can tell these are all English translations, but if you love Manga, this is a pretty good deal.

Here’s the deal:

We are having a MASSIVE sale on all our individual MANGA and ANIME Titles!

Over 900 popular individual Manga & Anime books, have been drastically reduced to only $0.99 each. This limited time sale includes popular titles such as Cowboy Bebop, Gundam, Tokyo Babylon, Dragon Knights and more!

Most of these titles have a list price of $9.99 or more, but you can get them at BookCloseouts.com for only $0.99 each until March 26th.

Here’s the link:


Apr 212008

I found this on Lifehacker.com the other day. It’s a collection of secret “tips” from Japan. It has things like fixing scratched CDs, a better way to clean a stinky toilet and how to keep your bathroom mirror free from fog. I love little Lifehacking tips, and the fact that these are from Japan make them that much cooler.  Click on the image for more info.

Mar 132008

From:Japan Today – News – Tezuka’s manga work to go online

TOKYO — A virtual bookstore said Wednesday it would put online the works of “Astroboy” creator Osamu Tezuka, the father of manga comics. Papyless, which sells digital versions of books, said it was teaming up with copyright holder Tezuka Production to upload at least 448 stories from the prolific late cartoonist.

Tezuka, sometimes called Japan’s Walt Disney, pioneered the country’s now massive manga industry, drawing stories whose characters were often fantastical with exaggerated physical features. He died in 1989.

Papyless will offer Tezuka comics including “Astroboy,” Japan’s best-known comic series relating the adventures of a robot-boy in a futuristic universe.

Others works to go online will include “Black Jack,” the tales of a doctor, and “New Treasure Island.”

Papyless, whose website is www.papy.co.jp/, said in a statement it would put the works online from March 18. It will cost 105 yen to read a volume over 48 hours.

Buying the work online will cost 315 yen per volume.

Digital books have become a growing market in Japan, with several online companies teaming up with publishers to upload works of various genres. Papyless has some 80,000 titles online.

Another growing market in Japan is for novels written specifically for mobile telephones.

Half of Japan’s top-selling novels last year were originally cellphone novels, which employ short phrases and “emoticon” symbols to adapt to the small screens.

Sadly for us in America, the dollar is at an all-time low versus the yen, so costs of items from Japan are much higher than before.  If you visit the site, you can click the banner at the top and there are some free sample issues available.  It’s using a proprietary online reader, but it seems to work fine.

Aug 252007

ThoughtAudio.com is offering several free audio books. One of them is Japanese Fairy Tales:


Although they’re not in Japanese, it’s still a good opportunity to listen to some very famous Japanese fairy tales and learn the stories. Then as your Japanese progresses, you can try reading the Japanese version and you’ll already have an idea of what the story is about.

The audio books can be downloaded HERE.

Jun 042007

Ok, I’m not recommending this book at all. I’m just amused by it. It’s in “English”, so you’re not going to learn any Japanese from it. I’m just stunned by the full title of this book:
How to Good-Bye Depression418hyr1s49l_ss500_.jpg

Part of the book description:

In addition, he also can have burned a strong beautiful fire within his abdomen. It can burn out the dirty stickiness of his body, release his immaterial fiber or third attention which has been confined to his stickiness. Then, he can shoot out his immaterial fiber or third attention to an object, concentrate on it and attain happy lucky feeling through the success of concentration.

If you don’t know concentration which gives you peculiar pleasure, your life looks like a hell.

And one of the reviews on Amazon says:

While I’m inclined to believe that both Castaneda and Nishigaki are both lunatics who need to be institutionalized, I didn’t buy the book to learn about the healing effects of anal-clenching; I got the book because it looked like a good laugh.

The content of the book doesn’t really justify its price, but some of the mangled “Engrish” is REALLY funny, and I absolutely love the horrified looks on my roommates’ faces when they bring guests over, only to discover this book lying on the coffee table.