• Blog
  • Shopping

Japan's biggest bookstore chain has opened its first Shanghai outpost

An historic villa in Columbia Circle, Japan's most popular bookstore chain and a whole heap of books

Photographs: Alastair Reid Schanche
Time to take your nose out of that novel and step outside, there’s a new bookstore in town. Hailing from Japan, the much-hyped Tsutaya opened its doors on Christmas Eve inside a stunning historic villa in Columbia Circle.

eng sec

Home to a huge selection of books (over 50,000 according to Shine), the English language section is on the small side, taking up all of about two shelves. But still, you'll be able to pick up classics ranging from the contemporary to the Shakespearian, and of course plenty of Murakami.

The bookstore hasn't so much taken over the 1930s villa but inhabited it. Designed by renowned architect László Hudec (and once lived in by the son of Dr Sun Yat-Sen), much of the building’s splendour is on display and part of the joy of the place is walking through the columned hallways and grand digs. Don’t miss the stairs up to the top floor where you’ll find the well-stocked art and architecture sections.


Tsutaya is open from 10am to 11pm and apart from books also houses a bar (which stays open till midnight), a café, a collection of pens and watches priced from the affordable to the exorbitant, tote bags by Japanese illustrator Yu Nagaba and a wide selection of magazines in many languages. Unfortunately all this goodness means that Tsutaya is very busy at the moment and you’ll need to book ahead to beat the crowds. You can do it via the WeChat mini program here (Chinese only).


English language readers may be a little disappointed with what's on offer, but there is a wealth of great reads in Chinese and an art section that will keep you engrossed for hours. Whether you are on the hunt for your next read or not, spending a few hours milling around the historic building and Columbia Circle grounds isn’t a bad way to pass an afternoon.