Gake Shobô

The old ways thrive in much of Kyoto despite new technologies. In all the best restaurants, food is carefully prepared according to traditions that may not improve time efficiency, but guarantee quality. Sweets are handcrafted, coffees and teas hand-brewed. Many chefs harvest their own vegetables. The pace of life is definitely slower—some would say richer.

Kyoto certainly seems like the kind of place where the simple act of careful reading will persist. We’re of course not talking about reading blogs and jumping from article to article on web pages via links. We mean sitting down with a good book. We mean feeling the texture of the paper in your hands. The physical act of turning pages. In this day and age, this has become one of the “old ways.”

Of Kyoto’s many bookstores, one in particular deserves praise for supporting this activity: Gake Shobô. Located a short walk from Ginkaku-ji, north on Shirakawa street, this iconic book store carries an array of unique books, underground magazines, gift cards and other unusual printed matter. We particularly like the two rows of magazine racks for the purposes of our “Small Press” column; we always seem to find interesting new independent magazines there. Many of these will never survive beyond a few issues, but that does not diminish their contribution to the world of printed culture or the Japanese subcultures they represent.

Gake Shobô is what bookstores always used to be: a hub of artists, culture and information sharing. It often hosts mini events like book release parties, guest speakers and displays of handcrafted goods. It hasn’t been around for so many years, but has the feel of store well-rooted in its neighborhood. Let’s hope technology doesn’t uproot such places. Then again, can you imagine an e-book release party with everyone reading off their tablets?



京都の数多い書店・本屋の中にあって、ガケ書房の活動は賞賛に値する。銀閣寺にほど近く、白川通の北にあるこの個性豊かな本屋は、ユニークな本やアングラ雑誌、ギフトカード、一風変わった印刷物の宝庫である。とりわけ私たちが好きなのは2列のマガジン棚で、本誌Small Pressコラムで紹介している新しい独立系雑誌を、いつもその棚から探しているからだ。紹介した雑誌の多くは創刊から3号目を乗り切ることなく消えてしまうが、プリント・カルチャーや日本のサブカルチャーに果たした功績は残る。


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