Picking your favorite book to relax in bed (Book Tea Bed GINZA)
Have you ever wished you could fall asleep reading and not minding the time, in a space surrounded by books, like a library or bookstore? Such dreamlike accommodation exists in Japan. There are even places that offer volumes collected from all over the world or manga in various languages, and many families use them too. After all, there are also picture and guide books in Japanese, which can be enjoyed just by looking at them. Wouldn’t you like to let go of smartphones/gaming devices and delve into the world of books when staying overnight on a family holiday?
A Reading Experience for Lifelong Memories
Children stopping to read due to the spread of entertainment like the internet, smartphones, and gaming devices is a global problem. In 2001 Japan passed a law to encourage children’s reading because of this sense of crisis. The reason is that many believe that by reading books on their own, children expand their vocabulary, sharpen their sensibilities, and learn about life.
“Overnight bookstores” connect reading with accommodation and tourism, and also offer children fun memories with books. Many people like the chance to feel like having stayed at an actual bookstore. Some of the guests say that they felt like they were enjoying themselves at a hideaway. By slipping into the private spaces created in between the shelves, one can feel as if one were staffing a secret base.
Ca. 5000 books in six languages: Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, French, and Thai (courtesy of Hostel Wasabi Osaka Bed with Library)
Reading in a freely-usable space (courtesy of Book Tea Bed GINZA)
Book Tea Bed GINZA employs foreign staff fluent in both English and Japanese (Book Tea Bed GINZA)
In this café corner, guests can read while sipping on a drink (Book Tea Bed GINZA)
The private spaces provide a traditional Japanese bed set called a futon, and are designed so that they are comfortable despite being small. Many accommodations offer café corners in which one can spot fellow guests chatting about places they’ve visited or great food they’ve tried. Some places let customers use their cafés without staying overnight, and “overnight bookstores” have become fun places where people from different countries gather.
These businesses are similar to hostels one finds around the world, which offer young travelers safe and affordable accommodation, and many young visitors from abroad make use of them. The multilingual staff, who speak languages other than English, ensure uncomplicated communication. Because Wi-Fi, showers, and bathrooms are also provided, travelers have all they need. If you have the chance to visit Japan in the future, you may want to have a look.
“Overnight Libraries” Are Popular in the Countryside Too
In the Kumano region in Wakayama Prefecture, there is an “overnight library” inside a remodeled traditional home. Its founder wanted to provide the area’s children with a space they could use after school. The people running the library know that children are busy with school, homework, and afterschool activities, and want them to have a place where they can relax. The notion that knowledge isn’t something that is taught, but something that is acquired independently out of curiosity, led to the presence of various books. There are even study rooms for children wanting to learn, which feature tea and snacks, Wi-Fi, and power outlets.
Travelers staying overnight sleep on futons spread out over tatami (mats made of tightly woven straw) for very Japanese nights. Bookshelves inside the rooms also contain many Japanese comics, and guests can relax looking through them. In the house, visitors can mingle with local children or participate in events to enjoy a truly Japanese experience.
Exterior view of Youth Library Engawa (courtesy of Youth Library Engawa)
Children often come here after school (courtesy of Youth Library Engawa)
Many Japanese comics (courtesy of Youth Library Engawa)
One family per night can rent the space for a relaxing night (courtesy of Youth Library Engawa)