Chairman & CEO
Kinokuniya Company, Ltd.
Kinokuniya opened its third overseas store in New York's Rockefeller Center in December 1981. It was 6,820 sq. feet back then. Thanks to its favorable location and the loyal support of our customers, we were able to make a name for ourselves and prosper for 26 years. During this time we were able to establish the store as a major source of information on Japanese culture.
Seeing Japanese culture becoming an increasingly significant part of the American lifestyle, we decided to move our New York store to its new location near fashionable Bryant Park. With 23,800 sq. feet of floor space, we now display and sell more books than ever.
We hope you will continue to support us in our endeavors as we move forward, and we would like to show our gratitude to The Japan Times and to the people who have sent us their warm messages to celebrate the opening of our New York store.
Chairman & Publisher
The Japan Times, Ltd.
The Japan Times would like to congratulate Kinokuniya Bookstores for expanding their business to 25 branches in seven different countries around the world and for playing an important role in spreading Japanese culture abroad. In recent years Japan has attracted considerable attention around the world with both its financial prominence and its culture and lifestyle, from literature to anime, architecture and cuisine. The spacious new Kinokuniya store will surely be a major asset to the Big Apple, one of the great cultural centers of the world. The Japan Times wishes Kinokuniya New York Main Store great success and growth in the future.
Since opening in 1981, Kinokuniya's main store in New York City has played an important role in spreading Japanese culture in the Big Apple and beyond.
Last October, the Japanese bookstore chain started a new chapter when it moved from Rockefeller Center to a new location west of Bryant Park. The new store, which occupies three floors and has approximately 23,800 sq. feet of floor space, is almost twice as big as the original store. With the books and goods comprising about 250,000 items, it is without a doubt the largest Japanese bookstore in the United States today.
“It was in the early '80s that Japanese started gaining ground in the U.S.,” says Shinichi Seino of the International Business Division, who worked at the Rockefeller store 26 years ago. “Our main job was to sell Japanese books and magazines to Japanese businessmen living in N.Y.”
The interior of Kinokuniya New York, designed by Singaporean architect Kay Ngee Tan.
Later, as Japanese culture gradually grew in popularity, thanks partly to James Clavell's novel “Shogun” and the ascendancy of Japanese cuisine, more and more people wanting to know about Japanese customs, history and lifestyle began to visit the store.
By expanding the volume and range of books, the new N.Y. store is reaching out to an even larger clientele and not only catering to local Japanese customers and Japanophiles. The store has substantially increased the number of English-language books and widened its focus to include more publications related to Asia. Its inventory currently comprises 100,000 Japanese books and 100,000 English books.
Interestingly, when it comes to special subjects such as art or fashion, Kinokuniya displays Japanese and English books side by side on the same shelves, appealing to customers whose passion for knowledge and beauty knows no bounds.
While manga and anime-related publications have long been the store's big sellers, nowadays, that is supplemented by a strong demand for Japanese fashion magazines, tattoo-related books and English translations of novels by well-known novelists such as Haruki Murakami and Miyuki Miyabe.
In addition to bound publications, Kinokuniya carries nearly 50,000 assorted goods and collectibles. According to store manager John Fuller, popular items range from traditionally made Japanese craft paper, pens and notebooks to anime T-shirts.
Cafe Zaiya, on Kinokuniya's 2nd floor
In Kinokuniya's new store, between 40th and 41st Streets, Japanese books and stationery are located in the basement, the store’s largest floor. Magazines and books on fashion and lifestyle in Japan and Asia can be found on the ground floor, while anime, manga, CDs/DVDs and art are waiting on the second floor, as well as Cafe Zaiya, a Japanese-style pastry and sandwich shop.
Also of note on the second floor is a massive floor-to-ceiling mural of famed swordman Musashi Miyamoto, created by Takehiko Inoue, the manga artist behind “Slam Dunk” and “Vagabond.” Inoue visited the N.Y. store last November and completed the mural in three days.
Obviously, with this dynamic symbol, Kinokuniya is acknowledging that both traditional and modern Japanese culture will attract customers to its bookshelves for many years to come.
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Oscar-winning visual artist
As the Internet is posing an increasingly large threat to the very existence of books, it makes me want to stand firmly in defense of books. I could never part with the thrill of expectation that I get as I turn each page of a book. The extraordinary richness of books gives me endless nourishment — and this is something you cannot conjure up from real life, no matter how hard you try. When the shelves of bookstores are full of lively and meaningful books, this means that the world is stable and prospering. I hope that this will always be so.
By a turn of fate, I was given the chance to paint a mural of “Vagabond” (Musashi Miyamoto) on the walls of Kinokuniya. With this experience, I managed to rediscover the essence of drawing a picture. Even now I look back fondly on those three days which were spiritually nourishing for me. I wish to express my deepest appreciation for being given this experience.
Japan Times book fair
The Japan Times 110th anniversary book fair is being held at Kinokuniya New York main store until March 31. Drop by the store and get a free copy of the inaugural issue of The Japan Times from March 22, 1897 free.