Libraries, lending places and spaces

Updates on our info on the page — READING ROOM (which has the largest listing of bookstores in Japan on the Internet) is as follows:


One of the best kept secrets in town is the lending library at the Tokyo Baptist Church where more than 7,000 English-language books are available to the public at no charge. You don’t need membership in the church…simply fill out a card with basic information and you can check out as many books as you wish for a two-week period. Cozy corners with comfortable armchairs and a special children’s corner with a nice variety of reading material for all ages makes it a pleasant reading not just lending space. Just try not to go on a Sunday which is when the place is just too crowded with churchgoers. Located on Kyu Yamate Dori, the church is about a five-minute walk from Daikanyama Station, on the Toyoko Line. Open Tuesday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, please call 3461-8425. Tokyo Baptist Church’s address: 9-2 Hachiyama-cho in Shibuya-ku.

Many local libraries in urban Tokyo as well as in the suburban areas, carry a limited selection of English-language books…usually about one bookshelf’s worth of books. Ask your ward office to see which library has the largest collection.

The South Kanagawa Library has expanded its selection through donations of undamaged English-language books. 404-1 Kayama, Odawara, Kanagawa-ken 250.

National Diet Library


This is Japan’s greatest library, where a copy of everything published in the country is deposited. It boasts the largest number of foreign-language books and materials: Over 2 million books, 50,000 magazine titles and 1,500 newspapers and periodicals. But most of it is in storage with only a fraction of the collection visible on the shelves (mainly reference material). You have to go through the catalogues to find what you want and then submit forms. But this is the best place for a serious search for foreign language titles. Reference only.

– Must be 20 or older
– 9:30am-5pm; closed Sat, Sun, 3rd and 4th Mon and public holidays
1-10-1 Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku
Phone: 03-3581-2331
Access: Yurakucho, Hanzomon lines; Nagatacho station


Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library

Located in Arisugawa park, the main library for the Tokyo government, this is where you’re likely to find the largest collection about Tokyo. Although most of the materials are in stacks too, there are more titles on the shelves (more recent books) to give an idea of what could be there. Open on weekends and holidays. Ask for their detailed English guide.
– Over 150,000 titles in foreign languages
– Reference only
– Must be 16 or older
– Mon 1-8pm, Tue-Fri 9:30am-8pm, Sat, Sun, holidays 9:30am-5pm; closed 1st Thu and 3rd Sun
5-7-13 Minami Azabu, Minato-ku
Phone: 03-3442-8451
Access: Hibiya line, Hiroo station (walk through Arisugawanomiya park)
Hibiya Library


A Tokyo Metropolitan Government library located right in Hibiya park. The library faced closure due to government cutbacks, but won a reprieve. Lending is available.

– No age restrictions
– Mon-Fri 10am-8pm, Sat and Sun 10am-5pm
1-4 Hibiya Koen, Chiyoda-ku
Phone: 03-3502-0101
Hibiya, Marunouchi, Chiyoda lines, Kasumigaseki station; Mita line, Uchisaiwaicho station


Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum Reading Room

A small library containing only art books, mostly Japanese. However, there are a number of foreign books, as well as a few foreign magazine titles. Overall it has a reasonable selection, but you photocopying isn’t allowed.
– Of around 30,000 books, perhaps 10-20% are in English
– Reference only
– 18 years or older
– Open 10am-5pm, closed holidays and the 14th of each month
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum,
1F 8-36 Ueno-Koen, Taito-ku
Phone: 03-3823-6921


Japan Foundation Library

For those interested in or doing work related to Japan, this is the place to go. It holds an impressive collection of books, magazines, reference material and doctoral works on all aspects of the country. It specializse in humanities and social sciences, and also has translations of Japanese novels. It’s modern, spacious, well-organized and, as an added bonus, has great views of the city and beyond.
– About 25,000 books and 300 magazine titles
– Lending and reference
– 18 years or over; you need your gaijin card which must be valid for at least two months
– Open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, closed holidays and last Mon of the month
Ark Mori Bldg, West Wing 20F
1-12-32 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Phone: 03-5562-3527
Ginza line, Tameike-Sanno station, exit 13

Japan Foundation Asia Center Library

A good collection focusing on Asian (predominantly Southeast Asian) culture, society and the arts. Plus a substantial collection of audio-visual materials (videos, CDs and tapes), with facilities to watch and listen the materials. Half the materials are in English (about 2,500 titles), the rest in various Asian languages. Reference only.

– No age restrictions
– Open 10:30am-7pm weekdays, closed holidays and Oct 2
Akasaka Twin Tower Bldg, 1F
2-17-22 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Phone: 03-5562-3895
Ginza line; Tameike-Sanno station, exit 12
The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)


THE place to find business information about trade, the economy and investment for just about any country. Here you can find basic business directories, statistics, newspapers and magazines…150,000 titles in all languages. The reference desk will take any enquiry, and help you do a global search if needed. Reference only.

– Must be 18 or older
– Mon-Fri 9am-4:30pm; closed 3rd Tue and Wed
Kyodo Tsushin Bldg, 6F
2-2-5 Toranomon, Minato-ku
Phone: 03-3582-1775
Ginza line, Tameike-Sanno (exit 9) or Toranomon (exit 3) stations


Asia-Pacific Culture Center for UNESCO (ACCU)

A non-profit organization for the promotion of mutual understanding and cultural cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. In line with this the library keeps UNESCO publications, textbooks, literacy materials and many children’s books. There’s something in every Asian language, and plenty in English, too. The selection seems a bit dated, the library is generally for researchers looking for hard-to-find out-of-print material. You are allowed to borrow material.
– Around 30,000 titles
– Lending
– No age restrictions
– 10am-5pm Mon-Fri
Japan’s Publishers Bldg, 3F
6 Fukuromachi, Shinjuku-ku
Phone: 03-3269-4446
Tozai, Yurakucho, Namboku and JR Sobu lines, Iidabashi station


British Council Library and Information Center

Around 7,000 books, 100 magazine titles, newspapers and many government publications … all materials limited to the UK, apart from the section on language. Similar to an embassy library, except that the books target language learning, arts and social sciences instead of business. Access to the Internet is available, BBC World is always on and for JY500 you can use all the facilities for one day.
– About 7,000 book titles and 100 magazine titles
– Loans are
only for members

– 18 years or older
– 11am-8pm Mon-Fri, closed Sat-Sun and holidays
Kenkyusha Eigo Center Bldg, 1F
1-2 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku
Phone: 03-3235-8031
Tozai, Yurakucho, JR Sobu lines, Iidabashi station


World Magazine Gallery

A gallery in a publisher’s building displaying magazine titles from 55 countries around the world. Titles are mainly from the US, UK, Canada, France, Italy and Germany, with a few from China and Egypt. You can take them to the coffee shop upstairs and make photocopies.
– About 900 titles
– Reference only
– No age restrictions
– 11am-7pm Mon-Fri, closed Sat-Sun and holidays
The Magazine House, 1F
3-13-10 Ginza, Chuo-ku
Phone: 03-3545-7227
Hibiya, Asakusa lines, Higashi-Ginza station
Art Catalog Library


A small specialist library of art catalogs of exhibitions held in Japan (in galleries, museums and even department stores) and of Japanese art shows and collections abroad. It’s cramped, opened short hours and locating information might be difficult, but it’s worth visiting if you’re interested in art.
– Over 10,000 catalogs and books
– Reference only
-18 years and older
-1pm-6pm Mon, Tue, Thu only; closed national holidays
1-12-31 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Phone: 03-5562-9574
Ginza line, Tameike-Sanno station
Yushodo Gesner Library


Visitors are allowed to check and use their rare books collection for research. They have old books, in English and other languages, and maps. Treat them with care as it’s almost a privilege to access such items. There are two different rooms, both small, on 1F and 6F, the latter holding more recent, but still rare, materials.
– Around 3,000 books
– Reference only
– No age restrictions
– Open 9am-5pm, Mon-Fri
29 San-ei-cho, Shinjuku-ku
Phone: 03-3357-1411
Marunouchi line, Yotsuya-sanchome station or Toei-Shinjuku line, Akebonobashi station



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