34,000 books – most of which you won’t be able to read but who cares this place is great.
If, like me, you spend an inordinate amount of your time loitering in the travel sections of bookshops reading Lonely Planets while the staff regard you as some kind of vagrant tramp with no home, then you are in luck. Just beside Tokyo station there’s a place where this kind of behavior is actively encouraged – a library entirely devoted to travel- and tourism-related materials from all over the world.
Despite looking like some sort of STD clinic from the outside, inside you’ll find 34,000 guidebooks, rare books and antique books. There’s even a section devoted to in-flight magazines – so you can indulge in your secret fetish of pouring over the latest issue of Uzbekistan Airways magazine to your heart’s content. (I had a quick peek. There was a recipe for stew in it.)
Granted, most of the books are in Japanese, but – wait for it – they have English Lonely Planets for every country on earth! That bit was so important I underlined it. The downside of this hidden gem? Well, it’s closed at the weekends and on holidays. So unless you are an actual vagrant tramp with no job, chances are you’ll never be able to go.
To get to the Travel Library take the Yaesu Central exit out of Tokyo Station and it’s about a two-minute walk down the road. (Yaesu Dai Bldg. B1F, 1-1-1 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo). 10am-5.30pm / closed Sat-Sun, holidays. Free.