Village Vanguard is book store company that has branched out into multiple diners, burger joints and variety shops across Japan, but their champion store is located in Shimokitazawa. A small neighborhood just on the edge of Setagaya and Shibuya, Shimokitazawa boasts a bohemian feel reminiscent of Berkeley, California. There are numerous independent fashion stores, thrift shops and countless international restaurants. But nothing symbolizes the area more than the Village Vanguard bookstore.
The store is crammed with odd toys, backpacks, manga, CDs, and pretty much anything you can think of to buy for a quirky present. They sell home goods such as shower sponges in the shape of an afro, power chargers in the form of anime characters, and even piggy banks in the shape of Totoro. One of the shop's best features are the music recommendations that are sprinkled throughout the shop floor ranging from Indie Japanese bands to Ghibli Jazz covers. Backpacks, incense, shower curtains, phone chargers... there really isn't anything they don't sell. It's the perfect shop to come to if you're visiting Japan and don't want to take the same old souvenirs back home.
However the heart of the Village Vanguard is its manga selection. With variety and volume, this is how a manga store should feel. None of the static and lifeless feel that most Tsutaya book stores have can be felt here. Village Vanguard knows the importance of ambiance. They also have a wonderful selection of photography books as well as children's books. The books are all wonderfully arranged into a labyrinth like maze with volumes stacked high above your head. The children's book section is filled with all the international favorites that are all translated into Japanese, which is complemented by popular Anime and Disney movie soundtracks. This section will be sure to appeal to both children and adults alike.