Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bookish Places: Japan - Morioka Shoten


A new monthly meme here at vvb32 reads. As travel has been on the forefront of my mind, I thought I would share travel spots on my bucket list that are book related.


Morioka Shoten & Co., Ltd.
Japanese bookstore
Issatsu, Isshitsu - a single room with a single book
Open: 13:00〜20:00 (Closed on Mondays)
Telephone: 03-3535-5020
1F Suzuki Building, 1-28-15 Ginza
Chuo-Ku, Tokyo, Japan

Starting out this meme series is, of course, a bookstore. But not just any old bookstore. This particular one is quite special and unique - a kind of mashup of architecture, art and ONE book (at a time).

Morioka Shoten opened in May 2015 on the ground floor of Suzuki Building. It is the lit room on the bottom right corner of the photo above. In appearance it has been described as being minimalist. It was designed by takram design engineering and has earned an iF Design Award 2016 for Discipline: Communication (here).

The inside raw concrete walls and ceilings are covered in white paint with a concrete floor that has been left bare. I imagine it was made such for ease in installing various exhibit pieces and artwork. Thus, transforming the small place into the big world of the featured book.

The shop only has two pieces of furniture: the store's counter - Morioka’s personal work desk which is said to be a vintage chest of drawers. And, a small table that gets shuffled around the room that is the stage to display the featured book of the week.

Yoshiyuki Morioka, bookstore owner says...

Before opening this bookstore in Ginza, I had been running another one in Kayabacho for 10 years. There, I had around 200 books as stock, and used to organise several book launches per year. During such events, a lot of people visited the store for the sake of a single book. As I experienced this for some time, I started to believe that perhaps with only one book, a bookstore could be managed,” said Morioka.

“This bookstore that sells only one book could also be described as ‘a bookstore that organises an exhibition derived from a single book’. For instance, when selling a book on flowers, in the store could be exhibited a flower that actually appears in the book. Also, I ask the authors and editors to be at the bookstore for as much time as possible. This is an attempt to make the two-dimensional book into three-dimensional ambience and experience. I believe that the customers, or readers, should feel as though they are entering ‘inside a book’.
-The Guardian, Dec 23, 2015 (here)

entering ‘inside a book’ - I love that statement. To physically enter inside a book is such a fanciful and fun thought.

What intrigues me about Morioka Shoten is its concept of putting the focus on ONE book to enhance the reading experience. It is not only the book cover that appeals and attract the eye, but everything surrounding it. With the passion and efforts of showcasing one book and its attributes in other media form, I would be inclined to buy the book.

I also love the idea of attending a week long event that celebrates a book by way of artwork and photograph exhibits as well as author interaction with talks and readings. However, I wonder if the frequency might be much. It would be a workout to visit the bookstore weekly for events.

Some books featured in the past:

The True Deceiver
by Tove Jansson
Amazon | Goodreads

The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson (first one featured)
Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
Tsukiyo To Megane (Moon Night and Glasses) by Mimei Ogawa
Karachi No Moto (Source of Form) by Akito Akagi, Koichi Uchida and Takejiro Hasegawa
Porano No Hiroba by Kenji Miyazawa
Karl Blossfeldt: Working Collages a collection of the artist’s photographs of plants
Fish-Man: photo anthology by Maseru Tatsuki
Hoffmanniana by Andrei Tarkovsky (rare, never-filmed screenplay)
Showa Gohan by Yoshie Takahashi
Sakae Tsuboi

I wish I could get the complete book list (mostly Japanese authors) for this store. I wonder how locals find out what the book of the week is as I could not find a link online.

Most of all, I would LOVE to visit this book store because I want to see it all in action. It is such a small space and I wonder how people figure into the mix in this minimalist setting. I think people would clutter that clean look. Would it be just as aesthetically pleasing to visit if browsers got in the way of my browsing. Oh but wait, there is no browsing as there is only one book, tee-hee ;-)

BUT really, how would a live event work? Would people be spilling into the street - author with a megaphone? Would everyone squeeze into the one room? It could feel claustrophobic. And if so, would there be a crowd limit due to avoid fire code violation?

I MUST visit this place to find out.



* found out about this bookstore from Books on the Nightstand (here)

* source images: exterior, inside

* source articles: Books on Nightstand, CBC Books, takram design engineering, Plain Magazine, PSFK, star2, Worldcrunch


  1. Yeah, that would be a curious thing to see. But nifty to see a bookstore for one book at a time.


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