Sho-Kudo is not the type of bookstore to go for coffee, the latest best sellers, or to meet a local author. It is a place for those seeking inspiration, treasure, and adventure in their lives. You may not come here with a book in mind, but you are sure to leave with a book in hand.
Literally thousands of locals and tourists alike pass by Sho-Kudo Secondhand Bookstore (尚古堂書店) each day on their way to the excellent Sendai City Museum, famous Sendai Castle site, or Tohoku University. However, with its towering gray exterior, uninviting entrance, and brown sign with only Japanese writing, I am sure I am not the only one that assumed it was some kind of small business office building. After realizing my mistake, I recently stepped inside the bookstore one lazy Sunday afternoon.
The automatic door at the entrance steps aside like a castle guard to let you into the literature wonderland. Immediately you are greeted by walls and walls of books. More so than your average bookstore, books are piled floor-to-ceiling and crammed in every nook and cranny, sometimes still in boxes. The labyrinth begins and you find yourself strolling the aisles, waiting for something to catch your eye. Something undoubtedly will.
The selection at Sho-Kudo cannot be matched anywhere in the city, except perhaps Maruzen next to Sendai Station if you are only interested in newer and popular items. Sho-Kudo has mostly books written in Japanese, but a decent selection of language learning texts, and books written in English. There are even a few books written in German, French, and Spanish! Here is an English translation of the multilevel bookstore guide:
- 3F complete volumes, anthologies, Western books, paperbacks
- 2F Scholar specific books (history, law, etc.), humanities texts for higher education
- 1F general books, comics, new arrivals, art and literature
- B1 novels, magazines, science texts for higher education, general books
Despite the endless narrow rows of books, the place is very clean, if a little cluttered. There are free lockers to put your things so you can use both hands when rummaging around. Books are well organized and the bookstore sells books individually and in volumes. To find out the price of a book, just open the front cover to see it clearly marked. If not marked, it is likely 100 yen. The cheapest books at the store are just 50 yen! You could easily buy several books here for the same price of one new book at another shop.
Sho-Kodo Secondhand Bookstore is the perfect place for bookworms. However, it is also highly recommended when looking for something unique or an inexpensive gift. You can find almost anything from Japanese law books to 70's and 80's vintage American Playboy magazines. It is all part of the thrill!