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Daikanyama T-Site in Tokyo is a complex built in late 2011 in the Daikanyama district—a residential area featuring tree-lined boulevards, far from the frenzy of the capital’s center. T-Site takes on the function of a cultural center, which seeks its reward in client satisfaction rather than immediate financial gain. The bookstore consists of three buildings, linked together by an internal gallery. The facade of the building is composed by white concrete blocks, which combine to form a T-shape, interspersed with glass windows. Inside, the building is designed not to look like a warehouse; indeed, the floors are all covered with distressed hardwood planks. The shelves, floors, and ceilings are arranged along a long corridor, called Magazine Street, that connects the three pavilions. Elsewhere, stone pavement creates continuity between the inside and outside of the building, while a ceiling with exposed beams is covered with lamps, which serve to mask the structural elements of the complex.

The books on sale range from Japanese literature to Western, either translated into Japanese or in English, from coffee table books on art and photography to rare and vintage books. Magazine Street features a section dedicated to national and international magazines, divided into thematic categories such as travel, motors, architecture, design, art, and cuisine. Also available at Daikanyama T-Site is a space dedicated to reading, the Anjin Lounge, where you can curl up and get lost in the pages of a book. Located on the first floor of the complex, the Anjin Lounge is a relaxing environment with leather sofas and soft lighting. In addition, it houses an art collection as well as a collection of rare books, with the items on display for sale.

For those who love photography, there is the Daikanyama Kitamura Photo Equipment Shop, a store specializing in cameras. Children can play in an area provided by Børnelund Daikanyama, which sells games imported from over twenty countries. At the stationery shop, you can buy all sorts of pens, from fountain pens to quills. Green Dog Daikanyama provides a veterinary clinic, a pet store, and a grooming center. Daikanyama motovelo specializes in selling only battery-assisted bicycles. The restaurant, Ivy Place, offers international specialties, cocktails, and wines you can enjoy in the lounge or on the outdoor terrace. Lastly, chai lattes and frappuccinos are available at Starbucks, inside the bookstore.

At Daikanyama T-Site itself, there are entire departments dedicated to DVDs, CDs, and videogames. Their assortment of films includes both classic films and new releases. You can also listen to music for free in specially designated sites scattered throughout. The store’s music department carries around 120,000 albums of all genres, from rock to pop, jazz to classical music. For 500 Yen, a machine dispenses . A book of psychedelic art is paired with a set of cups designed by illustrator Keiichi Tanami, or else with t-shirts produced by Tacoma Fuji Records, a record label that doesn’t actually sell any music. If you need information, however, it might be difficult to find a salesperson—since the bookstore offers concierge services instead, employing consultants trained in breadth and depth on books, films, and music, who can advise customers on their purchases.

Daikanyama acts as only one of over 1400 points of sale for the retail chain Tsutaya. Twenty-eight years ago, Tsutaya had opened its first store in Osaka. The space was designed to reflect the lifestyle of the youth of the time through music, movies, and books. It was not just any bookstore, record shop, or video store; Tsutaya embodied a new lifestyle. With the twenty-somethings of the time now in their fifties and sixties, the chain store has decided to rethink some of their stores, starting with Daikanyama in Tokyo. The flagship bookstore was opened on December 5, 2011, after only three years of planning and construction.

For the concept of the mega-complex, Tsutaya had selected various Japanese architects and creatives to take part. The communications design was developed by the Japanese graphic designer Kenya Hara, whose books are a reference point for those who study design. Interior designer Tomoko Ikegai guided the creative direction of the project. The building’s architectural plan, by Klein Dytham Architecture Studio, won the award for Best Shopping Center at the World Architecture Festival in 2013. Klein Dytham was founded in Tokyo in 1991 by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, two former students of the Royal College of Art in London, who were later joined by the only Japanese member of the studio, Yukinari Hisayama, in 1996.

The trees already present in the area have been preserved to create a cohesive entity that combines nature and architecture. As a whole, it brings to life the concept of a town square: it is not just a place to pass through, but a community space where you can stop for a coffee, read a book, shop, eat, and chat. In 2013, Daikanyama T-Site in Tokyo was highlighted as one of the twenty most beautiful bookshops in the world by cultural magazine Flavorwire.

Daikanyama T-Site

16-15 Sarugakucho, Shibuya City

Tokyo 150-0033, Japan