Japanese Bookshops in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a Cantonese speaking region which belongs to China. Thanks to the similarities between the Chinese and Japanese languages as well as an interest in Japanese culture, enough Hong Kong-ers are fluent enough in Japanese to sustain several bookshops selling exclusively Japanese books. In December of 2016, I visited Sharakudou 寫樂堂, Tomato Books, Asahiya Bookstore.

Tomato Books

Manson House, 74-78 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

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Entrance to Manson House

I would describe it as a rather cramped bookshop.

Fiction, non-fiction and magazines were neatly separated with authors arranged in alphabetical (hiragana) order. However, the bookshelves were uncomfortably close together to the point where I had to squat down to inspect the books on the bottom shelves instead of bending down normally.

Incidentally there was plenty of space for browsing in the magazines section. I wonder why?

I found the fiction section rather lacking. They were mostly stocked with modern novels instead of good novels.

Consider this: literally half of a bookshelf was dominated by 東野圭吾’s books.

For what it’s worth, there were a lot of non-fiction books.

2 bookshelves were dedicated to used books, arranged again in alphabetical order which is greatly appreciated. However, most of them looked extremely unappealing not to mention costing 35 HKD (about USD$4.50) each. Well, I guess that’s the reason people even sold them away.

Purchases: None

Note: The books have no individual price tags, refer to a conversion chart located in the store and the back of each book for the price.

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Picture stolen from hkglocal (Japanese)

Asahiya Bookstore

11/F, Sogo Department Store (Causeway Bay), 555 Hennessy Road

asahiya-2

Asahiya Bookstore is the most complete of all the bookstores I’ve visited. Located in the gargantuan Sogo complex, the worst part about Asahiya is getting to it. Prepare to rub shoulders, elbows, and your entire body against other sweaty homo sapiens as you jostle for space in one of only three elevators or the single escalator line. Its one saving grace transport-wise is the fact that the Sogo Store is accessible directly from the MTR subway station itself.

The management of Asahiya have arranged all its books in a meticulous, methodical manner. Firstly, magazines are relegated to the far end of the store. Self-help, financial books and non-fiction in general are lined across the left wall. The back wall is filled completely with modern novels typically aimed at adults arranged in alphabetical order. Entertainment-focused books like LNs and Manga were neatly arranged in another corner. This is fantastic design which ensures that customers can find what they’re looking for quickly if browsing by genre. Speaking of LNs, Asahiya had the best collection of light novels of all the bookstores I visited in terms of availability. If you’re an LN fanatic, this is the place to go.

In conclusion, whether you already have a specific book in mind or if you just want to browse, Asahiya is a joy to visit.

Note: The books have no individual price tags, refer to a conversion chart located in the store and the back of each book for the price.

Purchases:

花ざかりの森・憂国|三島由紀夫

アスラーン戦記4汗血公路|田中芳樹

Sharakudou 写楽堂

Fortune Centre, Basement,Causeway Bay, 44-48 Yun Ping Road

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Entrance to Fortune Centre

Sharakudou is a historied used bookstore with a wide selection of books catering to anyone and everyone’s taste. I guarantee that you will not leave empty-handed. Upon descending the steps to the basement, vibrant, colourful Japanese magazines are immediately come into view.

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Stolen from まるこの香港生活 blog (Japanese)

Didn’t really look at them so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

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The shop is divided into two sections. The first section is dedicated to entertainment-focused material — manga, light novels and otaku-oriented magazines and guidebooks.

For manga, complete sets are sold as one product. Don’t expect to find many of these, though. There was a bunch of classic retro manga but if you’re looking for newer manga Asahiya is probably a better choice. Oh, and a lot of BL. I wish I was kidding.

LNs are mostly pre-isekai boom. Worth a look, though. I noticed that there were some rarer books like the Patlabor light novel series which I’ve never even heard of.

For the otaku stuff, there were magazines and guidebooks on trains, famous anime films, gravure, that kind of stuff.

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Middle section with bestsellers

As I ventured deeper into the bookstore and nearer to the back half, books rapidly became less entertainment-focused. Bestsellers and 話題作 (books generated discussion) were arranged neatly. A lot of 東野圭吾, again. I can’t remember the exact price, but I remember them being around 20-40 HKD.

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小説

Finally, we reach the back half. Literary fiction, normal fiction and non-fiction books are located here. The non-fiction books were mostly about history, social studies and geopolitics. Don’t remember seeing any self-help books. Authors were all arranged in alphabetical order regardless of publisher.

I won’t lie, I spent a lot of time browsing around in here because there are a lot of books. Not just books people sold back to the bookstore because they were garbage, but actual good books which had a cultural impact on Japan, presented new ideas or were just interesting in their own way, some of which were preserved in pristine condition. There were even complete hardcover sets of 1Q84 and other famous literary works, something I didn’t see at Tomato’s used book area at all.

I left the store satisfied and with a bag full of books. In fact, I was so satisfied that I came back one more time before departing from Hong Kong.

With that I can say that Sharakutou is truly a Randokuha‘s paradise.

Purchases:

ディスコ探偵水曜日全3巻セット |舞城王太郎 | HKD 30 | Condition: Poor

悦楽の園|木地雅映子|HKD 40 | Condition: Pristine

仮面山荘殺人事件|東野圭吾|HKD 25 | Condition: Pristine

きつねのはなし|森美登美彦|HKD 23 | Condition: Average

希望のニート|二神能基|Free|Condition: Very Poor

模倣の殺意|中町信|HKD 25 | Condition: Average

ノルウェーの森全2巻セット|村上春樹|HKD 50 | Condition: Above Average

花のレクイエム|辻邦夫|HKD 20|Condition: Pristine

Note: The books are individually priced according to list price (定価) and condition.

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