Morioka Shoten

``People only read the surface, but if there is only one book, it allows you to go in depth, discuss more, explore more. So I began only selling one book a week.``

Yoshiyuki Morioka is the owner and curator of Morioka Shoten, a-one-at-a-time book shop in Ginza, Tokyo. Every week, Morioka selects a single book to offer to his clients, along with “anniversary” events that include special talks and meet-the-author like events. Frustrated by the amount of selection, Morioka created an environment in which the selection is simple, allowing readers to dive into the depths of the book they’re reading, understand them wholly and share that experience with others. 

In addition to the curation of each book, Morioka curates it’s environment. The book of the week is exhibited as stacks on a table in the minimalist bookstore/ gallery, surrounding it by objects that speak to the book or inserting curated objects within the books themselves.


Martino di Napoli Rampolla: Could you name two past experiences that inspired this place?

Yoshiyuki: At first, I was a collector of magazines about Japanese propaganda, especially focusing on the years between 1931 – 1972 and was particularly fascinated by a magazine created and published in this exact building *referring to the building his bookshop is located in*. Nippon Kobo designed Nippon periodical in this building, a Japanese propaganda magazine during those dates but also made a place of modern Japanese publishing style so it felt right for me to open my bookstore in this building.

In 1998 I started my career working in a bookshop in Jinbocho, the “city of books” in Tokyo. The bookshop handled over 20 000 books, and I remember just feeling chaos. So I made the choice to open a bookstore, in the same area and handle only 100 books, and run special anniversary events for one book, and these events guided how this place formed, because in the anniversary we only shone a light on one book and I realised that If there are too many books, people only read the surface, but if there is only one book, it allows you to go in depth, discuss more, explore more. So I began only selling one book a week.

M: What’s the book that you’ve had here that excited you the most in these past 5 years? 

Y: Last January, I took part in an exhibition of Shuntarō Tanikawa, he’s a poet that I respect largely, so it was a precious experience for me. Why do I respect him? I like his thinking. His character as a human being.

He’s the kind of person who understands the depth of humanity. About men, women, the beauty. Every time he picks a subject, the way he talks about it really touches me. Instead of focusing on the weakness or the negatives of people, he always focuses on the positive. Instead of talking about lots of theories, like how you should do something and what the definition of beauty is, he talks about these things through his humanity, through his own perspective. And I highly respect that. So when there was a chance to have a book written by him in my store I jumped at it. 

M: How old is his he?

Y: 87.

M: What is the thing about the process of selecting the book, hosting and organising events that you like the least? The most difficult part of it. 

Y: This bookstore is business. So this place is “ginza” meaning high cost in Japanese, but my gut is always pushing me to continue. 

M: And do you sometimes also have art exhibitions, or just books?

Y: Each book is an exhibition. Books, they are art.

M: Do you only ‘exhibit’ Japanese books?

Y: Not only Japanese but also international books. 

M: What do you see the trend being in 5 years time?

Y: Japanese and Chinese tend to decide economic data, or marketing. So the next trend is kind of the acceptance of the unpredictable, based out of intuition or instinct. Authentic. Original.
I think self expression is more important than mathematics or data. 


Interview and Photos: Martino di Napoli Rampolla

Translation: Olivia Pan