If you love everything Japanese manga and anime, then Japantown’s Kinokuniya is the ultimate literary stop for you.
Located in the Japan Center, this spacious and friendly store is not only comprehensive with their selection of manga, books, magazines, and DVDs of all topics, but is also culturally and historically significant.
While the bookstore first opened in San Francisco in 1969 as the very first Kinokuniya, its narrative truly begins much earlier in 1927.
Kinokuniya only had five employees at its conception in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, with merely two levels of floorspace. The store persevered and fully flourished in 1949 when they began importing English books, propelling them to premiere their first sales office in Osaka.
Kinokuniya’s popularity as a trustworthy academic text provider allowed them to eventually expand overseas, finding home in the cultural hub of our very diverse and innovative San Francisco.
Today the original location is now deemed as a Tokyo Historic Building, and its West Coast location is just as highly regarded.
Now with several locations throughout California, New York, Chicago and more, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of Kinokuniya’s first location opening. Throughout its life, the San Francisco landmark has been an anchor to the local Japantown community and for tourists visiting the city overall.
Many flock to its cutely decorated 2 floors to peruse their walls brimming with all kinds of anime, from the popular to the niche and obscure.
The warm and calm atmosphere invites you to leisurely stroll through all the aisles to find your perfect book, stationary, or other cute trinkets without feeling rushed, judged, or overcrowded.
The first floor is all devoted to manga and anime merchandise, and adorned on its entrance is an amazingly intricate painting by Japanese artist Katsuya Terada, who actually completed this must-see masterpiece live during his visit in 2013.
On the second floor is more of the English literature, which is also the space where renowned authors and key figures have come to visit and provide inspirational talks, such as the legendary George Takei.
Kinokuniya is a delightfully bright and comprehensively complete store that is a must-see when visiting our historical Japantown, located on 1581 Webster St.
You are sure to find your next anime binge-read here!
Photography by: Miika Laaksonen/Unsplash