Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.
I have been staying in Chiba (Japan) for almost a year now. Chiba, unlike densely populated Tokyo, is a better-spaced & slower-paced prefecture. Here, I am blessed with several good stores where I occasionally go to indulge in my frenzy shopping spree for art/craft materials and books. Although quite a distance from home, these are the stores I usually frequent:
(See pictures of these Chiba’s stores in Flickr)
Though surrounded with fanciful art/craft materials and books, I started to miss the bookstores and libraries in Singapore. In Singapore (where I was for 26 years), English books are widely accessible and reasonably priced. Even the libraries have most of the latest titles in the market. So whenever I wanted to learn a new art subject, I had many great resources to help me gained better understanding on the subject before creating an artwork. Since my Japanese is rather pathetic, I was not able to fully utilize the huge collection of inspiring Japanese art/craft books available here.
As art/craft books in English are pretty much limited to only a few major bookstores in Tokyo, I decided to make a trip there. Despite the fact that Chiba is adjacent to Tokyo, I hardly step into the metropolis. Mostly because the Tokyo railway system is an overwhelming maze to me, and the transportation is costly. Especially from my place, I do not have any direct train.
For this trip, I chose to go to Shinjuku because Kinokuniya, a bookstore popular in Singapore, has two stores located there (main & south branch). Plus, there were a few other stores nearby that I was interested in as well. So I transferred trains, made my way to different platforms (i.e. Shin Keisei Line > JR Joban Line > TM Chiyoda Line > TM Marunouchi Line). Finally, took me almost one and a half hour just to get there.
(1) Kinokuniya (Main Store) – Situated nearer to TM Marunouchi Line’s Shinjuku Sanchome; (Level 7). Though it is the main branch, I was rather disappointed that it carries very limited art and craft books in English. The handicraft section (categorized under “hobby) has only two shelfs!
(2) Junkudo – Situated in the Shinjuku Mitsukoshi Alcot building (Level 8). Overall, this bookstore carries a wider range of Fine Art titles. Handicraft books, however, are rather limited. Nonetheless, it was much better than Kinokuniya.
(3) Sekaido – I highly recommend this art store! Five floors of Art & Craft materials and the sixth floor is a gallery. Members really have a good deal with discounts! Because there is no branch in Chiba, I did not apply for membership. But now I am starting to regret that decision and should have bought my art materials there! >_<
(4) Kinokuniya (South Branch) – Situated in the annex building of Takashimaya Times Square; (Level 6). It has more english art books than the main branch. At least, the handicraft section has three shelfs. Hmmm sad!
(5) Yuzawaya – Situated in the main building of Takashimaya Times Square (Level 11). Just opened on 1 November 2009. Hmm, this new outlet does not do justice to Yuzawaya at all. Compared to the ones I frequent, it seems to have much lesser stuff. I think it is better to visit the ones in Kamata or Kichijoji. I plan to make a trip there myself one day… (I wonder how many trains I have to transfer… LOL!) ***Yuzawaya (Shinjuku Branch) will be closing down on 6 November 2016.***
(6) Tokyu Hands – Situated in the main building of Takashimaya Times Square; (Level 2 to 8); same direction with Louis Vuitton, which is on level 1. An appealing store that has a wide variety of hobby, DIY, home improvement, lifestyle products and many many unique goodies.
(See more pictures of these Shinjuku’s stores in Flickr)
On my list of Shinjuku’s stores to visit, I had BookOff (a second-hand bookstore) and Okadaya (a huge handicraft store consist of two buildings), but was it was getting late and my feet really hurts! ~~>_<~~ So sadly, I made my way home. All I bought was some art materials from Yuzawaya. As for books, I got them from Amazon (Japan) instead. Not able to browse them before I buy, so I bought them by faith. Anyway, Amazon Japan is cheaper (surprisingly) and it is offering free shipping for books. Overall, it was a fun trip and the next time I will definitely visit Okadaya first. ^_^Y
Yuzawaya (Shinjuku Branch) will be closing down on 6 November 2016.
Here is the notice on their official website (in Japanese).
They are having closing down sale!!!
Thank you Claypotprincess for the information. ♡