Where to buy Japanese books
Every now and then I get an email from someone asking where they can buy Japanese books. So far, I've been replying individually, but a collective reply will probably be more useful. So here's what I know. Please, let me know of other sources, especially in Europe, since I don't have any information about that.
I buy my books at Kinokuniya bookstores. They have stores in the US, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.
Here is the complete list of Kinokuniya bookstores worldwide with contact information.
You can also order from them online or over the phone. My experience with Kinokuniya has always been very good.
Stores in the US
Asahiya, website in Japanese.
Locations: Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Torrance, San Diego, Chicago, New York.
Kinokuniya, website in Japanese with some English.
Locations: New York, New Jersey, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, Seattle, Costa Mesa.
Sanseido, website in Japanese.
Locations: inside Mitsuwa Marketplace stores. They may be at other, independent locations, but I don't know.
Sasuga Bookstore, website in English.
Stores down under
Stores in Europe
In Europe there are a few stores that sell Japanese items, including books, but from a quick scan it seems they don't have much in the line of craft books. In any case, here are the few I found.
Some practical information
Amazon Japan now offers enough of their interface in English that it's possible for the rest of us to understand how to order. The shipment fees from Japan are high, but the basic prices are lower than at regular stores. If you lose your bookmark to this entry, just remember two things:
1) Choose English in the menubar
2) Open Amazon.com and perform the same operation on the US website comparing screen by screen with what you are doing on the Japanese website. The Japanese interface mirrors the US website closely, including placement of elements so for instance, if you were trying to add a book to your wishlist on the Japanese website, you would click the button highlighted in red on the bottom right. To create or view a wishlist, you would click the button highlighted in red at the top of the page.
This is the same page displayed with some elements in English:
Most of the time, I use Amazon.co.jp to browse or search books, then with the ASIN/ISBN number, I go to the Kinokuniya website to see if the book I want is available at a location near me. To see a book's ASIN/ISBN number, scroll down the page:
To check if a book is available from Kinokuniya stores, enter the ISBN/ASIN number in the input field by the pulldown menu called "Japanese books". I use the website for the US West Coast, as that is where I am. Make sure to use the Kinokuniya website for your area.
The bottom of this first page shows contact information for the area stores.
Entering the ASIN/ISBN number in this field will take you to a result page. If the book is in stock, it will appear as in the image below, with cover image, when available, and a list of the stores that have it in stock.
To see their other stores (East Coast and Asia): http://www.kinokuniya.com/
I hope this is not too confusing. I'll update this page whenever new information comes my way.