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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bookworm Alert! The 56th Kanda Second-hand Book Festival Tokyo

神田古本まつり

56th Kanda Second-hand Book Festival Tokyo: Fri. October 23 - Sun. November 1, 2015

Customers at the 56th Kanda Second-hand Book Festival, along Yasukuni-dori Avenue
Perusing books at the 56th Kanda Second-hand Book Festival, along Yasukuni-dori Avenue
The Jinbocho area in the Kanda district of Tokyo is a bookworm's delight, famous for its scores of book stores, most of them for used books. The local booksellers' association website lists over 160 used bookstores, and over 70 stores selling new books, in the area.

A bargain bin at the at the 56th Kanda Second-hand Book Festival, Tokyo.
Bargain bin at the at the 56th Kanda Second-hand Book Festival
 Most of the bookshops in Jinbocho focus on a particular topic, such as the board games of shogi and go, art, the Japanese literature of a specific age, philosophy and religion, social sciences, hobbies, arts and crafts, subculture (which includes a lot of erotica), calligraphy, old Japanese copybooks and rubbings of inscriptions on monuments, ukiyoe paintings, books about traditional Japanese seals, science, military-related, natural history, foreign books, music ... the list goes on.

For the past 56 years, since 1959, the Jinbocho bookshops have held an annual fall book fair called the Kanda Second-hand Book Festival (神田古本まつり Kanda Furuhon Matsuri). This year's festival, the 56th, starts tomorrow, Friday, October 23, and continues for ten days, finishing on Sunday November 1. The hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (but until 6 p.m. on the final day).

Crowds at the 56th Kanda Second-hand Book Festival, 2015.
 Crowds at the 56th Kanda Second-hand Book Festival, 2015, alongside Yasukuni-dori Avenue.
The festival is centered on the Jinbocho intersection in Tokyo's Chiyoda ward, is sponsored by the Kanda Used Book Sellers' Association and with the official support of Chiyoda Ward Office and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

About 100 stores will be taking part, with an estimated over one million books for sale. Stalls will line about 500 meters (about one-third of a mile) of Yasukuni-dori Avenue, which runs through Jinbocho, with great bargains to be had.

Book piles at the  56th Kanda Second-hand Book Festival, 2015.
Pile of books at the  56th Kanda Second-hand Book Festival, Tokyo, 2015.
 A charity auction of especially prized tomes will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 31 at the Sakura-dori Event Space.

There will be special events throughout, such as traditional seal-making experience classes, papermaking classes, music performances, talk events, and lectures.

Going by previous years' attendance, no less than about half a million people are expected to converge on the book fair over the ten days, many of them from outside Tokyo—even outside Japan—drawn by this venerable tradition, and the thrill of the book bargain.

Lanterns of the Yasukuni-dori Commercial Association, 56th Kanda Second-hand Book Festival, 2015.
"Yasukuni-dori Commercial Association" lanterns, 56th Kanda Second-hand Book Festival, 2015.
Getting there
Jinbocho is accessible immediately from Jinbocho station on the Mita and Shinjuku subway lines, or is five minutes walk from Ochanomizu station on the JR Chuo/Sobu line and the Chiyoda subway line.

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