The Kanda Used Book Festival is one of the largest annual events in the Jimbocho district of Kanda—renowned as a town of used and antique books. The organizers go further to claim it’s the largest event of its kind in the world.
For the festival, bookshelves are placed on the sidewalks of the area’s main street (Yasukuni Dori), creating a long corridor of books that faces the local bookstores. In addition to the street market, a variety of related events are scheduled during the festival, including a Special Used Book Sale Fair (at the Tokyo Used Book Kaikan underground hall)—featuring rare and valuable books—and library seal workshops.
A delivery service is also available for purchased books, so you can buy up lots without having to worry about carting your loot home.
As my well documented (and commented upon) deficiencies with my Japanese studies have no quick fix, I choose to look upon this as an advantage: the number of English language books is limited so I won’t blow my whole month’s budget on books I might not get around to reading until the next Kanda festival.
And yet, I still managed to spend a healthy sum of ¥2200. But the rewards …
- The Discourses and Manual, Vol. 1 by Epictetus
- Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy
- The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antonius, Translated by George Long
- The Story of Old Japan by Joseph H. Longford
- Moral Essays, Vol. 3 by Seneca (Loeb Classical Library)
In all cases they are first editions and except for the Ogilvy and Seneca tomes are over 90 years old. All are in remarkable shape for their age, even the Epictetus one with the Japanese handwriting in it. The author of those notes was both tidy and brief – the notes only continue for about 10 pages.
All in all, I am pleased with my purchases. I could have gone down a deep dive on Robert Lewis Stevenson, for example. The likelihood of actually reading those was slim, so I wisely if begrudgingly resisted purchasing them.