Is Tokyo's Tsutaya the Best Bookstore In the World?

This vast, three-building complex in Daikanyama has it all.

It would be a shame, but you could theoretically spend a near-perfect day in the city’s best bookstore (and possibly the world’s), Tsutaya at Daikanyama T-Site, without opening a single book. Start at 7 A.M., with breakfast in the serene ground-floor restaurant, Ivy Place, across from the main entrance. Spend the morning walking through the complex’s three buildings, setting a goal of finding all of the tucked-away display cases, artworks, and mini-exhibits of strange (such as the grouping of taxidermic wildlife) and wondrous objects, almost all for sale. Grab a coffee at one of three spots (including Starbucks) and flip through stacks of too-hip magazines from around the globe.

After lunch, claim a listening station in the music department upstairs and while away the afternoon sampling CDs and vinyl and arguing over all-time desert-island top-five records with the resident jazz, classical, and rock “concierges.” Move on to the film section and ask for the most obscure movie you can think of; they’ll probably have it, and if not, they can burn a copy on the spot. (DVDs and CDs are still the core business of the Tsutaya company, essentially the Blockbuster of Japan, with 1,100 far less elegant stores nationwide.) Indulge in some predinner shopping: Buy a vintage Leica or a limited-edition fountain pen, or plan your next vacation at the travel desk, situated near the travel section. Dine in the warmly lit Anjin lounge, perhaps the coolest room in Tokyo, its shelves lined with bound periodicals, first-edition classics, and even stranger and more wondrous objects (also for sale) than you saw downstairs. Polish off the night with a martini as a live jazz combo grooves into the wee hours. At that point, you’d be crazy not to lose yourself in a book. 17-5 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku;

For more in Daikanyama neighborhood, read our story »