The biggest problem I have had in accumulating materials to learn Japanese is not being in Japan. You can order pretty much anything from the internet but due to postage costs it's generally not worth doing unless you are buying a lot in one go. Even worse, there is limited to no browsing potential, so I have in the past ended up paying a lot of money for books that are not so useful for me (even though they might be useful for others). Over the last year or so I have started to sample some of the Japanese bookstores in cities I have visited. The bad news is they are all still pretty expensive, but it solves the browsing problem. It's can also be much more economical if you only want to buy a couple of books. I will list the details of the shops I have visited so far, I would be interested to hear about any others:
UK - London
Lower Ground Floor of Mitsukoshi Department Store, Regent Street, London, SW1Y 4PH
This bookshop, in the basement of the Mitsukoshi Department Store, has a very extensive selection of textbooks and learning materials. Several hours of browsing has really helped me avoid a few bad purchases but also make a few good purchases I would not have done otherwise. They also carry a reasonable selection of native materials including fiction and non-fiction books, some children's books, magazines and some manga.
14 - 16 Regent Street, London, SW1Y 4PH
The Japan Centre is next door to Mitsukoshi and has a small bookshop at the back. It has a better selection of magazines etc but fewer books, mainly a selection of the most popular textbooks plus some popular manga. Prices are practically identical to JP Books but if the textbook you are looking for is not available in JP Books it may be worth checking Japan Centre as well.
30 Brewer Street, London
This secondhand bookshop is probably the cheapest way I know of to stock up on tadoku material, it is packed full of Japanese books and manga. The prices are expensive for secondhand books, I think I paid around £4.20 for a paperback copy of キッチン, but much cheaper than the alternatives! Most of the books are shrinkwrapped, so no browsing potential, but that doesn't matter at those prices. If you didn't know the shop was there you would probably never notice it as it still has a shop sign above it which says "De-Luxe Cleaning".
France - Paris
18 Rue des Pyramides, 75001, Paris
This Japanese bookshop seemed to have a good selection of Japanese textbooks and a very good selection of Japanese fiction and non fiction books, but unfortunately at the time I visited, I didn't have too much time to browse. I didn't even know it was there until I walked right past it, and just had to pop in! It is also just down the road from the Assimil shop.
29 rue Saint-Augustin, 75002, Paris
There are three Book Off stores in Paris but I only went to this one because it is the only one on the Book Off France website which is listed as selling Japanese books. It was bigger than I was expecting and absolutely rammed full of secondhand books, including a corner with some textbooks. I was a bit disappointed by the prices, but due to exchange rates between three different currencies (pounds, euros and yen) I don't feel particularly well placed to judge how expensive it is.
Germany - Berlin
Pestalozzistraße 67, 10627, Berlin
Quite a small Japanese bookshop, it was the only one I could find in Berlin and seems to deal mainly with secondhand books and manga. It had quite a nice character but the prices seemed rather expensive. Again, I can't really compare across three exchange rates, but the prices for secondhand books didn't seem much cheaper than the prices for new books in the shops I went to in Düsseldorf.
Germany - Düsseldorf
Marienstr 41, 40210, Düsseldorf
Quite small in size, but very extensive in stock, considering. I love bookshops where everything is packed in like that! It had the best selection of graded reading materials for elementary schoolers I have seen in a real bookshop, so I would say definitely worth a visit for Tadoku fans who just happen to be around that part of Germany. I spent most of my holiday book budget here.
OCS Japan Store
Immermannstr. 31, 40210, Düsseldorf
I didn't go into this shop until I'd already spent my book budget, which is a shame. It doesn't have the same character as Takagi, but it does have plenty of books. It seemed to have a lot more magazines, textbooks (including a few sale bargains) and adult fiction, whereas Takagi seemed to have more children's books and manga.
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