C.S.Lewis in Tokyo


08-15-2005, 08:07 PM

“Books we must have, though bread we lack.” - Alice Brotherton

There’s more to Tokyo than those listed in the tourist guides. Amidst the busy intersections, you’ll discover many bookshops even inside train stations. You get the feeling you’ve walked into the grounds of Penguin and the Thinkers Library every time you walk off the main tourist paths. I know many bookish people who enjoy not looking in sceneries but going around libraries and bookshops. Though, finding a foreign/English book is a colossal challenge. There wasn’t much to look at if you couldn’t read Japanese and it is highly unlikely that you will find English shops of that kind in a country where the language gap is so apparent.

But I was delighted to see C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books (where the popular “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” story will be seen in theaters before year end) on the display racks and shelves of English-language paperbacks. I have a complete volume of this series already but not his other classic works on Christian apologetics which is scarcely to be found on these Japanese bookshops (for obvious reasons). I was eager to complete my C.S. Lewis library and I felt that I was in the precise position of Mel Gibson character in the ‘Conspiracy Theory’ movie, hunting for J.D. Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye”.

A couple of months and I soon found six foreign and English bookstores around Tokyo. Not a bad ratio for book-loving Japanese people, where a book and a sit on a train is “very heaven” to them - whether devouring manga comics or real books to the tune of the whining and screeching of trains. Then came my greatest discovery-one of these latter shops has one shelf dedicated to the famous witty Oxford don right off the long rows of other bestsellers. A sheer delight indeed. These long-coveted books became the chief drain of my spared money for months. Thanks, too, for half of these English bookshops sell and trade at proportionate prices.

I was not surprised though that Lewis books are so well loved in Japan. Authors like Kazumi Yamagata and the Yagyu brothers ( Naoyuki and Bou) have written books on him. Mineko Honda, a professor of English at Nishogakusha University authored the first serious book about Lewis written in English ( excluding articles and dissertations by other authors). Then there’s the C. S. Lewis Society of Tokyo which started almost two decades ago.

Tokyo really is an oasis for foreign bookworms like me. I always wish that the “spirit grocers” ( the kindly English/Irish pubs, as Lewis used to call it ) around Tokyo, will one day be transformed to libraries with passages and landings also lined with books. #

munting tinig

08-16-2005, 06:32 AM

i never had a chance to go to tokyo sam but i am very happy to learn things you’ve just said through this post.:slight_smile:

i love books so much:love:

i love them so much that i can’t even imagine my life having them:nono:

“Books we must have, though bread we lack.” - Alice Brotherton - and this sucks!

reality bites huh?!!:shutup:


08-16-2005, 08:27 AM

Salamat munting tinig. Nice to know that you are a bookworm, too. I remember being scolded because of that saying-it really bites man. I actually work (arubaito) in an English/Foreign bookshop here in Tokyo. It’s an ‘odd job’ but I like it because books are a major preoccupation of my life. There is rarely ever a day in my life when I am not reading (though I don’t read fictions, mostly I devour on biography, war related books and my favorite-theology). Pag pumunta ka dito sa Tokyo, let me know so I might be able to meet you and give you some discount.


08-16-2005, 10:22 PM

Hi Sam, where are you working?.. pa-discount… he-he-he

I remember the time na wala pang Amazon.com. Either Kinokuniya lang or Yurindo (if you are in Kanagawa) ang option. You could get them but price will be 2x or 3x the listed price.


08-17-2005, 12:03 AM

Sure! I work at The Blue Parrot Akihabara shop (meron din sa Takadanobaba). Nandun ako every Thursday night and fulltime on Sundays. The books,cds, vhs, dvds, etc. we sell are used (quality is good) so mura lang. Sa mga books usually half ng price sa amazon at yun na yung pinakamahal. Pag nakakita ka ng mukang hapon na alanganin sa counter at mukang highschool ako na yun, hehehe. Salamat neblus. See you there one of these days. Jaane.


08-17-2005, 12:26 AM

Ah Blue Parrot mahusay yan! Ilang beses na rin ako nagpunta dun sa Takadanobaba branch. Extensive ang selection at muraa nga.
Yun nga lang, lagi akong tinatarayan nung matandang haponesa (yung may-ari?). Hindi ko alam kung bakit, at mukhang mabait naman siya sa ibang customers. :frowning: Wala naman akong putok…


08-17-2005, 03:18 AM

I recently bought the boxed set of “The Chronicles of Narnia” as a birthday gift for my nephew and started reading it myself. First it was to make sure that it would be a good gift to give him, but now I am hooked. I’m reading the 3rd book now, which is “The House and His Boy” and truly enjoying it. I can’t wait to read his other (more serious) books.

It’s always nice to know more places to get our English books here in Japan. I remember when I first discovered Amazon.com in July of 1996 – I was ecstatic. I was into Charles Berlitz then and I bought most of his books from Amazon.com and was deliriously happy. Thank goodness there is now Amazon.co.jp – free shipping within Japan on orders over 1500 yen. (I’m not plugging. :))

By the way, you can buy (overly) used books from Franciscan Chapel Center / http://www2.gol.com/users/fcchapel (http://www2.gol.com/users/fcchapel) / located in Roppongi from 100 yen for softback and 200 for hardback. Check out their basement if you’re interested.

When I get a chance, I’ll check out ‘The Blue Parrot’ and look for you, Sam.


Maruchan;) here


08-17-2005, 10:49 AM

Welcome sa Timog Maruchan! Are you a fellow Ybanag like Crispee? Wow, if you are not, atleast I’m happy to know that you are a C.S. Lewis fan, too. Thank you din sa link na binigay mo. Meron akong alam na store sa Ochanomizu (aside from Maruzen) na may C.S. Lewis shelf pero tingin ko mas makakamura pag sa Amazon Japan. Sa Blue Parrot ko nabili yung complete set ng Narnia ko. Yung iba niyang books on Christianity ( I would highly recommend ‘Mere Christianity’ and ‘Screwtape Letters’) ubos na din. Well, see you one of these days. Enjoy the Narnia books- Omoshiroi desu ne.

Andres, sorry man. Ganun talaga si Omiya-san. Hindi yun ang may ari. Clerk lang din yun. Nice to know,too, that you are a bookish. Punta ka sa Akihabara minsan para di ka masungitan, hehehe. mas malaki pa yung shop dun at mas maraming choices except DVDs. Thanks. See you sometime.


08-18-2005, 12:52 AM

Thanks for the welcome, Sam.

Sorry but I don’t know what Ybanag means. I’ve known Crispee for four years now.

Yes, I’m looking forward to reading exactly those books you’ve recommended. I might order them next month. I already spent so much on books this summer and some of the books I’ve ordered from Amazon.co.jp haven’t arrived yet.

By the way, is your shop also selling English audio books? Just wondering…



08-18-2005, 11:10 AM

Hello Maruchan, Ybanag is our dialect, mostly mga nasa North-east ng Pilipinas (roughly 10 percent is Espanol,we count numbers like uno, dos tres, mil, etc and your name/pseudonym sounds like Ybanag).Anyways, we have some audio books pero mostly mga English classics like Shakespear and James Joyce (benta lang namin ng Hyaku yen, kaya pinakyaw kahapon ng isang British). Just stick with amazon.jp and try Christianbooks.com-mura din and lots of bargain items(imagine 10 Cds for 10$). Adios. Thanks


08-18-2005, 03:16 PM

Yo hablo un poquito Español, Sam. As for my name, that’s how my Japanese friends call me. They got the first two syllables of my first name or nickname, for that matter (which have the same first two syllables when pronounced in Japanese) and they added their endearment “chan” so it became ‘Maruchan.’

Wow! 100 yen for audio books are really cheap kahit Shakespeare and James Joyce pa ang mga ito.

I was checking Christianbook.com and found “C.S. Lewis & Narnia For Dummies” accidentally. My first thought was how dummy can one get? It’s a children’s book with the reading level from ages 4 to 8! But then, the first thing I’ve noticed when I started reading Narnia series are the many allegories, especially now that I’ve finished the 3rd book. After reading more about the said book, having in mind my nephew’s welfare or interests at heart, :o I’m thinking of buying this Dummies book for my nephew as well, in order for him to understand the Narnia series better. At para I can have a quick glance at it na rin. :stuck_out_tongue: Ahem.

Anyway, thanks for all the recommendations and suggestions.



08-18-2005, 11:54 PM

Ohayo Maruchan! The first time I read Narnia, I have that in mine, too,-that it is allegorical.That is because I have a biblical background of the redemption. But of course you can read and enjoy the series even without that (it’s an adult children book, you know), besides as compared to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, mas detailed ang narnia kaya ma-eenjoy ng mga bata. And I would not recommend the ‘Dummy’ book-it’s pretty expensive. There are many websites dedicated to narnia and its author but again, before reading the 101 thing or some backgrounds/trivia on narnia, i would suggest na tapusin mo muna yung buong volume. Mabbalo!


08-20-2005, 11:33 PM

Oh, yes, definitely! I have to read the seven books first, form my own opinions and then read the interpretations of others. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it by exploring the different inputs on the Christian symbolism behind the Chronicles of Narnia until I’m done reading it all.

You know, my only regret is that I never read the Chronicles of Narnia as a child. Oh, well…

Ah, it’s going to be a busy Sunday for me. :frowning:

Later, Sam!


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