Trip to Kinokuniya, Tokyo

As I’ve been writing these posts about my trip to Japan, I’ve become aware of how much it seems like all I did was shop. I assure you, that was not the case. I have to admit that Tokyo was shopping-heavy, but trust me, things changed once I got to Echizen.

After my stressful reunion post-Tokyu Hands, my hubby and I dragged ourselves over to Kinokuniya – a bookstore with books in both Japanese and English. Thankfully, this stop actually held interest for my husband.

Store sign outside of Kinokuniya Tokyo

Kinokuniya not only has stores in Japan, but also in the United States. I’ve been to their stores in San Francisco and Beaverton, OR. I was looking forward to conquering one of their Tokyo locations. My mission – bookbinding books written in Japanese.

Yes, you read that correctly. And no, I don’t speak Japanese.

I do, however, have a small collection of bookbinding books that are written in Japanese. They offer a different visual style than books published in the United States and I like that. They usually offer project directions that are accompanied by clear and easy to follow photos and/or diagrams. You can pretty much do the projects without knowing Japanese. They’re very cool.

So I already had 7 Japanese books in my collection and while traveling, there was no way I’d remember which titles I already owned. The fact was that I had to do some advance preparation for this particular stop on my tour. 

BookBuddy to the rescue! This app allows you to manage your home library on your phone. Under normal circumstances, you can just scan a book’s barcode to add it to your collection. Unfortunately, I had to enter most of my books manually because the app didn’t recognize the barcodes. Good thing there were only 7 books!

Yet another escalator adventure awaited me as I entered Kinokuniya.

Store sign outside of Kinokuniya Tokyo

Once I got to the floor with craft books, I approached the sales counter and showed the clerk one of the book covers I had in BookBuddy. She nodded her head and led me to the area of the store that had the bookbinding books.

Out of curiosity, I scanned the shelf sign using Google Translate and it came up as Miniature Books.

Japanese bookbinding books at Kinokuniya Tokyo

There were about a dozen bookbinding books there and I already owned several of them. I think there were six that I didn’t already own and let me be clear – I wanted ALL of them. The fact is that funds, weight, and space were issues for me (only so much room in the suitcase), so I had to control myself.

After about 30 minutes of deliberating, I finally settled on 4 books. I’m telling you – shopping for Japanese books in person is sooo much better than doing it online. There’s nothing like being able to flip through the pages yourself. Online shopping can be such a crapshoot.

By the way, I’m not writing much about my purchases now because I plan to write detailed reviews of each of these books in the future. Stay tuned!

Here are the books I purchased:

Japanese bookbinding book, ISBN 978-4-309-27681-6

Handmade Miniature Books

The first half of Handmade Miniature Books focuses on various bookbinding tips and techniques, with clear and easy to understand photos. The second half of the book includes 12 projects. All written content is in Japanese. ISBN: 978-4-88393-630-4.

Japanese bookbinding book, ISBN 978-4-88393-555-0

Handmade Bookmaking

Handmade Bookmaking offers 8 projects with directions written in Japanese, accompanied by photos and diagrams. It also includes an introduction to tools and materials, and general bookbinding tips. ISBN: 978-4-88393-555-0.

Making Beautiful Handmade Books with Misuzudo: 12-Lesson Bookbinding Textbook, ISBN 978-4-309-27681-6

Making Beautiful Handmade Books with Misuzudo: 12-Lesson Bookbinding Textbook

Making Beautiful Handmade Books with Misuzudo: 12-Lesson Bookbinding Textbook starts off with general bookbinding techniques, written in Japanese. 12 projects follow, accompanied by photos and diagrams, and dimensions for all needed supplies. ISBN: 978-4-309-27681-6.

Japanese bookbinding book, ISBN 978-4-05-800167-7

The Enjoyable Guide of Making Miniature Books

The Enjoyable Guide of Making Miniature Books includes 9 projects, all with directions written in Japanese. It includes photos and diagrams to help you complete each project. ISBN: 978-4-05-800167-7.

I’m so psyched that I found some new books – and they’re direct from Japan. Now that the trip is over, I have to admit that carrying them in my backpack was a major pain (in my back). It was probably a good idea to not buy more than I did.

Buuutttttt…that didn’t stop me from buying 4 rolls of washi tape when I was there. Rationale – rolls of tape are light and small. 

Here’s a rundown of the patterns I bought (from top to bottom):

4 rolls of washi tape

I love love love the roll with the books pattern on it!

If you’d like to visit Kinokuniya, here’s the store I went to:

  • Address: 3-17-7 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
  • Phone: 03-3354-0131
  • Public Transportation: 5 minute walk from Shinjuku Station (Yamanote and Chuo lines, east exit; Marunouchi line, exits B7 and B8; Oedo and Shinjuku lines, exit 1)

Total sheets of paper purchased to date: 10

10 Responses to “Trip to Kinokuniya, Tokyo”

By daria wilber - 7 July 2016 Reply

Excellent choices! I am so totally envious!

By Elissa - 7 July 2016 Reply

Daria –

I can’t say I’m having any regrets about what I got. 🙂


By marcia - 7 July 2016 Reply

I just went to the store in NYC the other day because I happened to be passing it on my way to the Public Library! I spent a lot of time looking at the craft books, but did not purchase any this trip- I will be more prepared next time. There was so much to look at and fawn over.

By Elissa - 7 July 2016 Reply

Marcia –

Ooohhh…lucky you! The New York store must be huge!

The store can be very overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for – it does help to do some prep before you go.


By Karen Krieger - 7 July 2016 Reply

So Elissa I’m curious what you use your washi tape for? The ones you got are so wonderful but I rarely see them used and wondered….

By Elissa - 7 July 2016 Reply

Karen –

Hrm…I have no idea how I’m going to use them. At the very least, they’d be handy for making cards.

I did a brief search and found two tutorials that use washi tape for binding books (I haven’t tried them myself):

Check out Ruth Bleakley’s awesome washi tape journal. She doesn’t use the tape structurally, but decoratively.


By Amy - 8 July 2016 Reply

Spirograph washi tape? I’m in love!

By Elissa - 11 July 2016 Reply

Amy –

Right? That tape made me go on eBay searching for vintage Spirograph sets. There are quite a few Kenner sets from 1967 available, if you’re interested.


By Jody Currie - 30 September 2016 Reply

Really enjoyed reading your blog. Also read about bookbinding at Wells College. Super interesting.

Your post here about Japanese bookbinding books has peaked my interest. Thanks for including the ISBN numbers. Shall be googling them.

By Elissa - 2 October 2016 Reply

Jody –

I’m glad you found my blog entertaining! Best of luck on your book hunt – once you get one, you’ll never stop. 🙂


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