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…
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