Tsutaya Tokyo Roppongi was the first Book & Cafe established in 2003 when the Roppongi Hills complex opened. This symbol of Roppongi Keyakizaka street underwent renovation for a few months and opened its doors again on March 7.
Their new concept is “Roppongi’s foreign bookstore,” with over 30,000 foreign language books and magazines to stimulate the inspiration of global thinkers who gather in this city.
The idea of book cafes has become the norm, but Tsutaya has again led the way, being Japan’s first company to incorporate a Book & Bar-Lounge and this is the biggest transition from the old Tsutaya to the new. A renowned mixologist and award winning sommelier tag-team provides cocktails inspired by famous artists of all times.
I tried their fresh herbal mocktail which is pricey but delightful. There is a segregated sofa area that requires a seat charge and provides a different menu. Listed are cocktails based on Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s “Summer” or even a steak delivered from nearby Empire Steakhouse. (Upon my visit on opening day, some babies cried and children got loud, so the decision has since been made not to allow young children in this zone.)
My favorite section is the omiyage (souvenirs) area, stacked with great works of traditional Japanese craftsmanship — serving up Tsutaya’s new idea for customers to “take a piece of Japan home.” I particularly like the selections of so-called “Japanized” avant-garde items that provide a nostalgic essence that adapt to modern lifestyle and I would love to incorporate them in my everyday life. Brands include: Tomorrow Fabric, a remake of kimono obi (sash) to clutch bags and pouches; Samurai Aloha, a remake of kimono fabric to collared shirts; and Haibara, wood block prints of traditional yet modern designs.
The children’s book section has been expanded with an impressive selection of foreign language books and full-on educational books such as encyclopedias. It has upgraded from just a few small chairs around a table to a no-shoes area where parents can leave babies inside an indented space sealed with thick carpets. There’s even a cave-like room where kids can bring in books, play with toys or perhaps contemplate on their future.
A showcase of the Criterion Collection, an American home video distribution company, shows up at the end of the staircase that leads to the second floor from the children’s section. It’s an exciting build-up of enthusiasm for movie lovers.
Sadly, the era of DVD rentals has ended, but DVD movies for sale occupy about a fifth of the second floor. Within it, an apparel brand by film director and comedian Takeshi Kitano (also known as Beat Takeshi), Kitanoblue, spruces up the section along with original Roppongi Tsutaya Books limited products. It’s fun to explore these limited items throughout the store.
Much like the concept “Live Closer to Art” at Ginza Tsutaya Books located in the Ginza Six complex, this store also specializes in art books. Numerous art books are on display, including Big Books weighing up to 40 kilograms.
The stationary section provides a series of items and personal goods for a more sophisticated lifestyle. For example, the next generation room diffuser equipped with IoT technology, a table lamp imitating a candle flair, or purses made of apple leather.
A new art space, “Book Gallery,” is worth a look on each visit as they intend to exhibit and sell works of up-and-coming artists.
When it first opened almost 17 years ago, Tsutaya Tokyo Roppongi was a 24-hour-a-day operation. Opening hours are now 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. but that is still more than enough time to dwell in your favorite literary world and connect with your artistic sensibility. It’s a venue to see how well you are keeping up with the latest trends.
On a plus note, free WiFi is available with tax emption service for visitors.
6-11-1 Roppongi Minato-ku Tokyo
Tel: 03-5775-1515 (2F Bar Lounge: 03-5843-1467)
Hours: 7 a.m.～Midnight (Bar Lounge 10 a.m.～midnight）© Japan Today