Emma & Nori-san
Kanda Jimbocho Old Book Walk (Part I)

Emma&Nori-san Kanda Jimbocho Old Book Walk

Books fascinate people every now and then. Kanda Nishiki-cho is the largest old book stores city in Japan. Two people, Maeda Emma, model (who actually like manga more than books) and Norihiko Suzuki, CM director who lives in this town, walked around the city that is known for book lovers. Emma is in her twenties and Nori-san is almost the same age as her parents, they knew each other through Nori-san's wife. While visiting an old book store in Jimbocho, we talked about the charm of books and the town, in front of each other's favorite books.

Relationship with books

ー Emma you like books right?

Emma:I do. I like the scenery where book exists. I will definitely go to a bookstore like everyday. There are some bookstores in front of my local station in the area I live in, I go there according to my mood.

ー Nori-san you live in Jimbocho, do you?

Nori-san:Yes. I came to Jimbocho around 15 years ago. Jimbocho is a book town and there are still many bookstores, but I think that bookstores are less present in many cities. Previously, I lived in Kaminoge, but there was only one small bookstore on the way home, and when I was looking for lots of books, I had no choice but to go to Jiyugaoka or Roppongi. Then, I moved to Jimbocho.

Emma:Nori’s love for books is amazing isn’t it! Depending of my mood I have different ways of apprehending the bookstores, in my neighborhood i can easily go to the bookstore for any kind of books, but if I want to research more slowly for a specific book on art or a manga for example, I’ll go to bookstores in Roppongi or Jimbocho.

Emma&Nori-san Kanda Jimbocho Old Book Walk
Emma&Nori-san Kanda Jimbocho Old Book Walk

Nori-san:If you look up the net these days, you can look for various books, but before the year 2000 when the Internet only started to become popular, you could not find the books you wanted until you actually visited the bookstore.

Emma: I like going to the bookstore so I can discover books that I could not have seen otherwise, so I like it. When it is on the net, you’ll only be looking for a book that you wanted. Because my parents liked books, I had a close relationship with books. When I was a kid, I often went to the station to pick up my father, and the meeting place was always the bookstore near the station. Then my father always bought me a book. It was always a manga, magazine or novel. I went to pick up my father for that purpose (laugh). I have no memory of receiving my pocket money from my father when I was young, but he would always buy me any books or magazine I wanted though. That's why since first grade of elementary school, I was looking forward to having my manga or magazines bought every month.

Nori-san:Emma 's house seems to have many bookshelves.

Emma:Yes. The wall of my house is mostly a bookshelf. As I was a child, I did not have much books, so there were many of my mother’s books on my bookshelf. After becoming an adult I began to read books, It looked like treasures were sleeping all the time in my bookshelf! It was like a treasure box I thought.

Emma&Nori-san Kanda Jimbocho Old Book Walk

ー “Treasure box” has a good ring to it. When we become adult we become aware of the richness there is to books.

Nori-san:Emma grew up in an enviable environment, didn’t she? Because I lived in a rural area, my father took me to the town by car on Sunday, I was really looking forward to going to a big bookstore in the city. There were many of my brother‘s literature collections and manga at home, and when I began to read it, I thought that books were fun.

Emma:It is also enviable to have older brothers. Because I have a younger brother, my younger brother has found a book from my bookshelf and he’s reading it. I usually read books pretty quickly, but my brother is the type to read books thoroughly. And he often tells me the essence of the story. I read the manga "Evangelion" when I was in school, but as much as I liked it, I don’t understood the story well... So my brother told me about it again and so I liked it once more (laugh). I think men and women are different in how they face books. Besides that, it seems that men have a habit of collecting.

Nori-san:Yes ... (laugh). That's why my wife always gets angry. I tend to collect too much.

Emma&Nori-san Kanda Jimbocho Old Book Walk

Living in a book town.

ー Nori-san It was because of books that you started living in Jimbocho.

Nori-san:Yes. I graduated from a university in Osaka and came to Tokyo with my job, but I first lived in the west side of Tokyo. When I was there I saw one day the apartment advertise in Jimbocho. I always looked for books so far, so I knew and came to Jimbocho very often, but for some reason I never imagined it as a city where people can live. But then I moved there.

Emma:Certainly, when asked about "Jimbocho habitants", I wondered was there a place where people lived in Jimbocho? The second floor of the bookstore? I was surprised to think that, but once again looking around the town, there are quite a lot of apartments, too.

ー That's it, there are lots of publishers. There used to be a legendary manga called "Garo", and I think that the publisher was in Kanda Nishiki-cho neighborhood and the company was certainly at the second floor of an old building.

Nori-san:A long time ago I read that famous manga artists frequently went to Garo’s editorial department.

Emma:Wow, that's right. Garo, I love it, I brought a volume today too!

Emma&Nori-san Kanda Jimbocho Old Book Walk

Nori-san:Several condominiums are beginning to be built in the neighborhood where I moved, and now it is beginning to become an apartment street even under the cliffs of the Meiji University. Compared to a few years ago in this neighborhood, not only the people who work there but also the number of eating and drinking establishments have increased, and there is the impression that the number of people who live here has increased. At the time I started living here, on Suzuran Avenue on Saturday and Sunday, there were plenty of shops that were closed. I think that it is possible to build new apartments condominiums and office buildings, and it will then also became possible to make it more lively and to re-open the shops on weekends too. Once in Kanda Nishiki-cho, it was said that it was also a movie town with old books, I heard that it was crowded with a lot of people all the time. Even then, I thought that everyone still wanted to look for books.

Emma:I’ve came in Jimbocho quite often since I was a high school student. I am now asked to work for magazines and such as a model now, but from that time, I thought to myself that I wanted to be in the magazine! For me old books and old magazines are the same, I like magazines a lot because I can see how the life was before I was born through those magazines. I especially liked magazines such as "Olive", "Studio Voice", "H", "Hana tsubaki", and I was reading them diligently (laugh). Since I did not have the money at that time, I could not buy it easily, but I stayed at my favorite book store in Jimbocho for about an hour and was thinking which one I should buy?

This is the first part which was about exciting memories of their favourite bookstores, but in the second part, we will talk about the memorable book that they came with, and we’ll continue to walk around the town.

In-store shooting cooperation: Natsume Shobo

Maeda Emma
Born in Kanagawa in 1992. Graduated from Tokyo Zokei University. She is drawing attention with her talent in different fields like modeling, essay writing, photography, painting, recitation, narration... In 2012 and 2014 she hold a solo exhibition of fine art works. Now she is represented by a fashion agency.
Norihiko Suzuki
Lives in Kanda Nishiki-cho, Chiyoda Ward. Graduated from Osaka University of the Arts. "Ichikawa office" associate, worked at San Ad Inc., freelance CM director. TV CM, PV, Web movies and others, photo exhibition and publication of ZINE and photo books. Dad of Mitsuba the cat's and Bukku the dog.



Omiyu's coffee shop guide (Part II)