Japanese Bookstore Stocks Only One Book Each Week

by Alex Heimbach

One Tokyo bookshop has taken decluttering to its logical extreme: the Japanese bookstore sells only one book at a time. Morioka Shoten Ginza espouses the philosophy of "Issatsu, Isshitsu," which translates as "A Single Room, A Single Book." The store stocks only one book each week (Tuesday through Sunday) and hosts an event every evening to discuss it.

The store's owner, Yoshiyuki Morioka, is an experienced bookseller, who worked for years in Kanda, Tokyo's famous bookselling district, where he eventually opened his own, more traditional bookshop. He pitched the idea for Morioka Shoten Ginza at a workshop where attendees were challenged to propose a new business with just one page: Morioka's read "Regeneration of a bookseller atom → a bookstore with a single book."

The bookstore opened just this May in a small gallery on the ground floor of the historical Suzuki building. It's remarkably sparse, with little more than a table stacked with books and a counter for the bookseller to stand behind, although some weeks Morioka hangs artwork related to the book selection.

As radical of an idea as "one store, one book" is, it's also kind of genius. Morioka Shoten Ginza is essentially the anti-Amazon: instead of offering unlimited selection and no guidance, Morioka offers nothing but guidance. It's a bookstore designed purely to help you find the best books an interact with them more deeply, through conversations with the author and with other readers.

Even if you aren't planning a trip to Tokyo any time soon, this unique bookstore can serve as a source of inspiration, whether by reminding you that sometimes the best books are found by trusting the judgment of others or by encouraging you to try reading a book a week. Some plans are so crazy they might just work.

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