Tokyo’s Bunkitsu is a new bookstore designed for art enthusiasts. People could easily mistake it as an art gallery because of its exquisite glass doors and wide entryway. It also displays books on tables like exhibits and its walls are captioned informatively.

In December 2018, Bunkitsu opened in Tokyo’s Roppongi district. People can access the reception area which has 90 or so magazines that they can read for free. To fully experience Bunkitsu at its best, you need to pay 1,500 yen or 14 dollars to read more than 30,000 books on the second floor.

A cafe is also located in Bunkitsu’s second floor that serves food and free refills of tea or coffee to the customers. Bookworms can relax in the reading area and can spend all day without going far searching for food. Hikaru Yoshino, the shop’s 27-year-old public relations officer said that Bunkitsu is a place for hardcore book lovers and, at the same time, it’s a place that draws people to walk in and discover books they never thought of reading.

According to Yoshino, there were basic concerns among the bookstore’s concept team that a fee would dismay potential customers. A coffee in Tokyo costs between 400 yen to 500 yen and he thinks Bunkitsu’s fee is reasonable enough that customers would drink from a bottomless cup while reading for two or three hours. Also, each book and magazine is the only copy in the book hound haven,
so if you miss the chance to buy one, you might never get another.

Akira Ito, the 36-year old store manager, and Yoshino said that 30 to 40 percent of their customers buy a book and that makes Bunkitsu’s unparalleled business model increase its sales. “It’s like buying a gift from a museum shop. People have paid their entry fee so they feel invested in finding a book,” says Ito.

Yoshino said that bookstores are closing down throughout Japan stating some online behemoth and the popularity of e-books as the cause. “We need to try somehow to make bookstores survive,” says Yoshino. “We hope that creating Bunkitsu is one way to respond to this challenge,” he ended.