[Seattle, WA] A Guide to Kinokuniya Book Store & Uwajimaya Village

23 Jan

525 S Weller St,
Seattle, WA 98104

Phone: +1 206-587-2477

To make any trek out to any Kinokuniya Bookstore outlet is like visiting a holy shrine. As a first-timer, I was not too sure about what to expect, and I was more than thrilled to have excellent customer service help me locate a pair of books which examines and retells Japanese Ghost Stories. Ever since I learned they partnered with Studio Ghibli to sell licensed material, I knew my visit to Seattle must include going to their store. Over the holidays, I had that chance and thoroughly enjoyed wandering about.

When the items typically offered at their booth at Emerald City Comic Con (March 1-4th) does not show off what this operation can offer, a visit to their store is definitely required! The stores offer a greater variety, and yes … I wanted those boxer shorts with Gojira (Godzilla)!

IMG_20171209_190132184I hemmed and hawed at whether the $50 USD is worth it. Instead, I opted for the tee which rendered big G in the artistic style of Katsushika Hokusai. I can only grin as wide as the monster because I gave in to desire than to listen to reason. This store has a wide plethora of stationery. The prices nearly double that of Daiso (a dollar store) and shoppers get what they pay for. As for the latest slew of artistic supplies, Kinokuniya wins. There were specialized pens I thought of buying so I can start drawing again.

For Studio Ghibli products, only the most popular films are sold. From ceramics to stuffed dolls, I spotted My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away. Jigsaw puzzles and little knick-knacks could have had me emptying my wallet, but I resisted. Sadly, there was no Ponyo or Porco Rosso anywhere. There was maybe one Nausicaa item and plenty of books for English readers to enjoy.

A small shelf full of videos offered a line of “best of” titles. While most can be bought from Amazon for cheaper, the question of to buy it now or to save money popped to mind. Usually, the desire to own right away outweighs being frugal.

If I had a membership, a ten percent discount would have been applied. But to join means folks have to be frequent shoppers. The annual $25 (USD) fee is worth it if I lived in Seattle.


Upstairs had a lot of modern anime titles on display to buy. Some I recognized and others I did not. By flipping through the various illustration books and translated manga, I see not much has changed in this industry. Fanservice tends to dominate and most long-time viewers are used to this fact. One rack had Amerian illustrated books. To stock these items felt out of place, and with a lot of Gundam, Pokemon and Sailor Moon around, I was sad to discover Five Star Stories is no longer in the top ten. The store used to carry them more than a decade ago, but now, nobody even knows about this Mamoru Nagano‘s epic work.

One visit is hardly enough to realize everything this operation sells. Though the store is smaller than expected, to know what else they offered needs spending a full two hours here. When I finished shopping, I visited the grocery store, Uwajimaya. They began operation in 1928 and I can easily spend an hour here exploring the wide selection of goods offered. I’m sure there are items I could use for home. A takoyaki stand is located at the north-west entrance. This operation sports a wider selection of Asian goods which I feel rivals T&T‘s (Vancouver).

Plus, my quest to buy strawberry and mango flavoured sake was over. There are brands not regularly sold in Canadian outlets and I had to order by the caseload had I wanted any. With this business, their gift store was quick to walk through and it was stocked with enough items to making shopping for stocking stuffers, from chopsticks to sake cups, as presents to back home (if it did not have a huge Asian presence) easy. I was here in December and I made the most of this trip than limit myself to just a Winter convention.

Thankfully, the International District is only a short light-rail ride away no matter where people are staying in the Downtown Seattle core.


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