Tokyo Art Bookstore Guide Vol. 1 – Daikanyama Tsutaya Books
We welcome you to our newest series, “Tokyo Art Bookstore Guide,” where we introduce bookstores with captivating art books along with their book recommendations for our readers. For this first episode of “Tokyo Art Bookstore Guide,” we will be introducing Daikanyama Tsutaya Books, a popular destination that opened in 2011 known as the landmark of the Daikanyama neighborhood.
This time, we were fortunate enough to interview Kanayo Egawa, who has been the concierge for the fashion & art section of Tsutaya since 2014. Before working at Tsutaya, she has gained experience working as a bookseller at bookstores such as Village Vanguard and Aoyama Book Center Roppongi. Because Tsutaya is known for its wide variety of books even within the arts section of the store, we asked Ms. Egawa how the section is built and maintained, and also her role as a concierge.
— First, please tell us about your unique role as a “concierge” at Tsutaya.
“A concierge is required to be of service to the customers. For example, if a customer approaches you saying, ‘I’m looking for this book,’ you have to have the knowledge to then suggest 10 more books. In order to be ready, you need a solid base of knowledge. Because I was in charge of books on art, photography, and subculture at my previous positions, I was appointed art concierge when I joined Tsutaya. To break down my job responsibilities, I’m in charge of stocking my section with new books and also continually developing the storefront. Also, I approach various artists, photographers, and brands to plan events, such as holding exhibitions at gallery spaces. There are times when a client will request if he/she can do a certain kind of exhibition, but in my case, if I visit a gallery and see something I really like, I’ll directly ask the artist to see if they’d be willing to collaborate. There are definitely instances where I am the one sending requests to the client.”
—Could you please describe the type of customers that visit Daikanyama Tsutaya Books?
“Since there are so many design firms in the area, as well as fashion and model agencies, I frequently see customers looking for materials and resources in those general fields. Customers working in those industries frequent the bookstore, especially in the evenings. In order to keep up with the information and provide materials these particular customers may need, I do my best to acquire the latest information from publishing companies. But there are always those customers who are very knowledgeable and know more than I do. And that actually motivates me to study even harder. Also, whenever a customer says, ‘I assumed you guys would have it in stock here,’ that makes me very happy.”
—Do you get a lot of foreign customers?
“Yes, we do. Of course, many of them are in the area for tourism, but when I notice some of these people purchasing various types of books, I’ll ask about their purchases and many of them turn out to be working on the design team of a certain brand based overseas. Also, some of these customers purchase books at Tsutaya that are published in the country they are from. It makes me curious, but perhaps bookstores in other parts of the world aren’t organized in the way that Daikanyama Tsutaya Books is, where everything is separated by genre.”
—What would you say is the selling point of Daikanyama Tsutaya Books?
“Probably the fact that we are sometimes able to release certain books a little earlier than other stores through negotiation. Also, there are several publishing companies that create Daikanyama Tsutaya Books limited edition books. We research a lot of information ourselves, getting in touch with publishing companies from overseas for special shipments of books that cannot be found elsewhere in Japan. I feel like that is a very strong selling point. Also, there is a publishing company in the UK called IDEA that handles mainly fashion photography books, and in the beginning, Dover Street Market and Daikanyama Tsutaya Books were the only bookstores in Japan selling their books. I’m sure that they make their selections based on location as well, but the fact that they value us and want us to sell their product is such an honor.”
—Are there any genres you are pushing more than others?
“Since fashion photography books are the most popular in the arts section, we are always pushing books in that genre, whether they be from Japan or overseas, vintage or new.”
—The fact that Tsutaya Books Daikayama sells various vintage books seems like an important trait.
“We have a staff member named Mr. Kato who used to be the general manager of a vintage book store focusing on art called ‘Art Bird Books’ in Nakameguro. Because he has such a vast knowledge of vintage books, he is in charge of handling that section of Daikanyama Tsutaya Books, and I’ll sometimes help him with the stocking.”
— It seems like vintage art books would be especially popular with overseas customers.
“I do believe many of them are purchased by overseas customers. Especially popular are first-edition photography books by Japanese photographers. For example, The Map by Kikuji Kawada or photography books by Nobuyoshi Araki, Daido Moriyama, and Shoji Ueda are frequently purchased by overseas customers. There are also other customers searching for rare finds. Sometimes a customer will approach me for first editions of Osamu Nagahama’s HELL’S ANGELS or Masahisa Fukase’s RAVENS. In reality, these photography books are also popular overseas, but because the requests are so particular, I sometimes think these customers are far more knowledgeable about Japanese photography books than we are!”
— When you encounter customers like that, it must be inspiring for you too.
“Yes, you’re right. When I’m working at the store every day, I’m always inspired by the customers. I speak with customers who know a lot, and I’m constantly learning from them. Because of all the amazing customers, I feel like that is what allows Daikanyama Tsutaya Books to be known as a fantastic bookstore. Even though it’s all within the same Daikanyama Tsutaya Books, the 2nd building where we are located (art, photography, fashion, design, cars) is slightly different from the 1st building (languages, business, sports) or the 3rd building (travel, cooking, stationary). A large part of the 2nd building is created by the customers, so we are very thankful for that.”
—And now, we’d like for you to introduce 5 book recommendations that are also sold at Daikanyama Tsutaya Books.
- PEEKABOO by Tomō Gokita (888 BOOKS / 3,000 yen+tax)
“This book is a picture record of an exhibition that was held in Opera City in June of this year. While this book was sold at Opera City, this version available to the general public has a strap, and this strap becomes a large poster. Satoshi Suzuki is in charge of the art direction for this picture record, and it is said that Mr. Gokita and Mr. Suzuki agreed to make this book like a yearbook. Mr. Gokita was originally a very popular figure overseas and is now acclaimed in Japan as well. He was kind enough to do an autograph session for his fans at Daikanyama Tsutaya Books and drew a different illustration with each autograph he signed. He is a wonderful artist.
We actually have some picture records of exhibitions in stock at our location, but because we don’t have a steady distribution of such picture records, we have books from 888 BOOKS directly stocked from the publisher. We’ll sometimes have customers who’ve missed a certain exhibition in hopes of finding the book compiling the picture records.”
- ROSES by Koji Yamaguchi (SALT AND PEPPER / 5,000 yen+tax)
“Just as the title suggests, all of the artwork in this book are roses. Many of the depictions are quite rare, with a western-style touch but also very next generation. The artist Mr. Yamaguchi was originally in charge of contributing the textile design for VAINL ARCHIVE. Mr. Ōkita, the designer of VAINL ARCHIVE, introduced me to Mr. Yamaguchi, and he was generous enough to exhibit his work at our gallery space from late April through Golden Week. This book was created for the exhibition. There are pieces with roses painted over denim or other sturdy material on canvas, and it was very interesting. This exhibition was also held at SALT AND PEPPER, a gallery that Mr. Ōkita owns in Ebisu, and this book is published by SALT AND PEPPER. During the exhibition, we had a long-sleeve T-shirt especially made by VAINL ARCHIVE, and those sold very well. Mr. Yamaguchi currently lives in New York, and he had his work exhibited at Nepenthes New York as well. He has recently returned to Japan, and he plans to be more active here going forward.
I feel like there are more collaborations happening between fashion and art people these days. Photographer Jiro Konami of VAINL ARCHIVE has been shooting lookbooks for a long time, but with an artist participating, the lookbook transforms into a work of art. Such collaborations are becoming more frequent, so I’m also looking forward to seeing what new collaboration will come about next.”
- DROP by Byron Hawes（powerHouse Books／5,630 yen+tax）
“This is a photography book depicting people waiting outside the shops of brands such as SUPREME or PALACE. The date and shop name are written at the end of each set of photos, and although there are a few taken in Tokyo, most of them are photographed overseas. SUPREME and PALACE appear the most often in the book, but you can also find other brands like Rick Owens and VETEMENTS. I find it particularly fascinating that such a book even exists. Of course, there must be people photographed in the book who are resellers, but what’s different from the people in Japan is that they all seem to be enjoying themselves. In Japan, you’ll also see people who wait in line just for the sake of purchasing a certain product, but unlike other places, they’re always looking down, usually at their cell phones. But unlike that, I like how non-Japanese people photographed in the book seem to be excited as they wait in line like they are at some kind of festival. Also, because reselling brand items is going through a heat wave of sorts, I feel like the book is actually criticizing that. Even the book commentary notes that the title DROP alludes to the fact that brand reselling will eventually dwindle or “drop.”I’m sure there’s a hint of sarcasm within the book.
Even during the late 90s and early 2000s of the Ura-Hara boom, everyone was lining up outside the stores but that wave has calmed down by around 2010. But I also think that with apps like Mercari where anyone can buy or sell anything has a lot to do with this shift; however, I sincerely hope that that’s not the case for people who really love the Ura-Hara fashion. Because this book depicts the ‘now,’ I think it is more of a documentary than just a fashion photo book.”
- TTP by Hayahisa Tomiyasu (MACK／5,550 yen+tax）
“This book won the “First Book Award,” which is presented by MACK publishing house from the UK for photographers who have never published a photo book before. Mr. Tomiyasu is a Japanese photographer, but he continuously photographed a park at a fixed point from his dormitory in Leipzig, Germany. This park had a ping-pong table, which is tischtennisplatte in German (hence “TTP”), and it’s interesting to see everything that goes on near and around it. There are people in prayer, people changing diapers, people practicing archery. But nobody uses it for table tennis. When I first saw this book through the distributing company for MACK, I actually laughed. Even though he is an unknown photographer and even if the viewer doesn’t know MACK publishing, it has become a popular book. This is an entertaining book even if one doesn’t know photography very well. This book made me realize that being able to understand what is going on without much explanation is very important.
I love photography books like this. I’d enjoy seeing photography in the style of Martin Parr rather than something that is ‘pretty.’Even Martin Parr produces work that is quite silly and ridiculous. It’s actually harder to distinguish a good photo from a bad one, more so than with art. Sometimes a person’s sensibility can be the only determining factor. And within that, there’s something captivating about a certain work where you can see a person’s distinct flavor.”
- The Motif Magazine 001 by Jakob de Tobon (The Motif Publishing／5,200 yen+tax)
“This book is like a magazine and photography book in one produced by a graphic designer who has created images for brands such as Dior, CHANEL, and H&M. The theme of this issue is blue with visuals surrounding this theme. This book is created by photographers with expertise in fashion photography. There are 6 different covers, all of which are very much like magazine covers. Back in the day, there used to be more magazines centered on images, but I feel like there are less of this type of magazine with little to no text.
One of our staff members in charge of the photography section found this book via Instagram, and we were able to stock this after contacting the publishing company. The copies from the first delivery sold out very quickly. We have many customers working in the design industry, so they go to books like this as a source due to its straightforwardness, unity of theme and the fact that many people were involved in the creation of this book.”
Daikanyama Tsutaya Books
150-0033 Tokyo, Shibuya, Sarugakucho 17-5
Store hours: 7 AM ~ 2 AM (2F 9AM ~ 2AM)
7 days a week
writer： Kiwamu Omae