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We spent almost half a day in Daikanyama 代官山, most of the time in the Tsutaya bookstore蔦屋書店. For Chris who has been photographing bookstores (for example, Livraria Cultura in Sao Paulo, Alexandra in Budapest etc.), this Tsutaya branch is a temple for worshipping.

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In a perfect world, all bookshops near me would be like this. Opened in 2011 after three years of development, the whole site is created by the owner of Tsutaya Books with the concept of “A Library in the Woods”. We would love to live in the midst of it.

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The company, Culture Convenience Club (CCC), founded in 1983, owns a chain of bookstores and video rental outlets. It brands itself as being a culture infrastructure company in the lifestyle navigator business providing comprehensive entertainment.

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If CCC is building a real estate business on top of entertainment, it may very well be a winning business formula for the 21st century. With all this talk of creating a virtual ecosystem (think Amazon) where your customers do all their shopping and content consumption, this could be an equivalent, a real-world ecosystem where your customer lingers and even chooses to live around the site.

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Most of what we have written below here is taken from the official web site of T-site at Daikanyama. The site consists of three buildings connected by a walkway which splits the buildings into six different departments.

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The letter “T” is used as a motif which forms a laced façade on the white exteriors, echoing “T-site”. The exterior also forms a big “T” (see below). This design was the winning submission from among 80 firms in a competitive architectural request for proposals.

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Books and magazines (Japanese and Western), current and vintage are placed together in six specialty categories: Cuisine, Travel, Cars and Motorcycles, Architecture and Design, Art, and Humanities and Literature.

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Starbucks is served on the ground floor.

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We headed upstairs to Anjin-  a salon accented by rare collections of books and magazine from around the world – 30,000 vintage magazines from the 1960’s-70’s.

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There is a skylight in the salon bringing in natural light and a footbridge that connects to the other buildings.

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A short line was formed of people waiting for a table. We were gently told by the waitperson that there is a 45-minute seating limit. They needed that time limit because the place is so comfortable and people simply do not move.

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The customer is surrounded by artworks, books, old and new magazines, all for your browsing, with a cappuccino (or alcoholic drinks) and delicious cakes and snacks.

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As the line of waiting customers disappeared, we were left to stay as long as we liked (at least nobody came to ask).

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Past issues of Studio Voice (click here) – a Japanese music magazine Chris had browsed in the past (might still have them), definitely collectible (if we have the space).

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The music department is installed with hi-end vacuum tube McIntosh amplifiers and fancy speakers (cannot imagine them being allowed to operate properly in a bookstore).

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The video department is intent on offering a complete selection of everything that can be bought in Japan. For classic titles previously unavailable as DVDs, they can be burned right at the store as disks to take home. While Netflix is ubiquitous and quite comprehensive, it cannot match this place for choices.

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Outside the bookstore are a selection of retail stores, including Kitamura Camera Specialty store (where we bought an iphone accessory that adds a choice of macro and telephoto lens).

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The T-site offers multiple eateries and even a pet grooming service and a bicycle shop in the pedestrian zone which blend into the other specialty and fashion stores in Daikanyama.

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Daikanyama is a bit more grown up than Harajuku.

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According to the T-site website, “The young adults who came to us for lifestyle navigation 28 years ago are now 50-something and 60-something years old. So we decided to re-invent lifestyle navigation for these adults.”

Great concept.

 

 

 

 

 

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