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The Tsutaya Experience

Tsutaya Books in Tokyo offers an inspiring vision of future retailing.

The Tsutaya Experience


January 25th, 2012

In December last year, Japan’s book, music, and movie retail giant Tsutaya opened the doors to its new store in Daikanyama, an upscale but low-rise and relaxed shopping district in Tokyo.


Specially catered to those 50 and above and conceived by Klein Dytham architecture, the new-generational complex (dubbed “T-site”) appears to have all the helpful elements in place to invigorate the current dismal bookstore scene – namely well thought-out merchandise, innovative design, dining, entertainment and add-on services.



Tsutaya Books is set back from the street and surrounded by trees. The complex itself is split into 3 pavilions of 2- and 3-storey buildings connected by bridges.


The Ts in the Tsutaya logo cleverly make up the perforated screens of the facade while on a larger scale, the T shape is employed in the building plans and elevations.


Eschewing the character of a slick department store in favour of a warmer and more intimate vibe, materials such as aged timber flooring are employed. This particular material of choice continues on the store’s “magazine street”, which passes through the interior and exterior to link all 3 pavilions.

Elsewhere, there’s an open ceiling decorated with big lantern lights, and perforated metal signage designed by Kenya Hara to enhance the sense of openness and visibility.


Aside from the usual product offerings, Tsutaya Books features a series of well-choreographed boutique spaces with carefully curated merchandise. These sections – covering art, architecture, cooking, cars, design, history, and literature – are each manned by a concierge who provides expert knowledge in the subject area as well as other services (one can book a vacation in the travel section).


Each boutique space also takes on its own unique character: the shelves in the literature section, for example, are tightly packed, much like what one would find in Tokyo’s Jimbocho second hand book district.


The world of analogue and digital are also sensitively navigated. Movies, for example, can be bought, rented or downloaded. And while iPads serve as guides to the stock on offer, that stock also happens to include Tokyo’s largest selection of pens!


As a retail destination, the store has other facilities, including a lounge at its centre which houses a bar, a performance space, a collection of artworks and rare books, and a world magazine archive.

Tsutaya Books is determined to leave the visitor suitably inspired.

Klein Dytham architecture

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