Post Birthday Post: A visit to Tsutaya Books, largest bookstore chain in Japan, recently opened in Pavilion Bukit Jalil, Malaysia – Is it worth the hype? #TsutayaBooks #TsutayaBooksMalaysia #events #bookstore #Malaysia #PavilionBukitJalil #MalaysiaBookstore #MalaysiaOnlineBookstores

Picture from Free Malaysia Today

*This post is best read from a webpage, one that’s opened separately in another window if you want to zoom into the pictures.*

My birthday was about less than 2 weeks ago and yes, we headed to a bookstore to ‘celebrate’, as is the tradition LOL Coincidentally, one just opened a day before my birthday. AND it’s not just any bookstore, it’s the largest bookstore chain in Japan!

I really wasn’t expecting to go there because Pavilion Bukit Jalil is just waaaaaay too far from where we live. So when the hubs drove us there, I was pleasantly surprised, but also anxious because I knew there was going to be a long wait (see picture below) and coincidentally, I didn’t have a good night sleep, and a long wait with two restless kids isn’t going to help. We were told by the person in charge there was about a thirty to forty-minute wait.

This was the crowd that day. Only 500 visitors were allowed in the store each time.

We were glad we decided to wait because it wasn’t that long. After all, we have travelled this far just to come here. So, here’s my take on Tsutaya Books.

In a nutshell:

This largest bookstore chain in Japan had opened its first in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. Its floor space of 31,000 sq ft comprises over 240,000 books. These categories ranges from art, travel, comic, literature, to childrenโ€™s books.

According to Hideyuki Uemoto, CEO of Tsutaya Books Malaysia who spoke to Tatler Malaysia“We hope to create a space that will evoke curiosity and encourage exploration for Malaysian families and children who love books, design, and art.”

My thoughts:

The store is aesthetically pleasing. Everything is beautiful, from placement of books to its decorative items on the shelves, even the flowers, greenery and dim lighting add to its ‘come-on-in-and-chill’ vibes. I thought the reflective mirrors is a nice touch to make it look as though the store has books from floor to ceiling.

As visitors come in, they would be greeted by Japanese handmade items like totes that cost a bomb (I recall seeing one that cost about RM800++!!), pouches, mugs, some Japanese fans and such (spotted Doraemon too!). There are even a few pieces of designer apparel displayed (But none were specifically for book lovers. Maybe a good idea to add them in the future?)

Its stationery section was impressive, boasting a variety of products from writing tools to bookmarks and stickers, even socks. As beautiful as the bookmarks were, they cost an arm and leg LOL From the ones I checked out, they ranged from RM28 – RM108 (there’s a possibility some costing more). Maybe it would be a great idea to add some bookish face masks, as these would appeal to book lovers.

This cute little sloth bookmark is RM28.88!
This geisha metal bookmark is gorgeous. But would you pay this much for it?
Imagine sitting facing the waterfall, reading a book (or writing your next bestselling novel) accompanied by a cup of joe/tea.

There were ample sitting areas around the store too, making it a reader and family-friendly store. As pictured above, there were also tables and chairs facing a waterfall cascading from a flight of stairs outside. Strategically located was its cafe (pictured below), just a few steps away. A regular latte cost RM15, a classic dorayaki RM10, a cheesecake RM12.

Books were arranged beautifully, even color-themed on some shelves (as pictured above). Some visitors have mentioned that they weren’t arranged according to author’s names and genres, some finding an author’s same book placed in one section (a copy or two), then finding the same one in a different section.

I was drawn to this gorgeous tower of classics.

Some areas though, needed some ‘life’; the Japanese literature display for instance.

Care for some Japanese literature besides Murakami?

These dedicated displays like Japanese literature, New Arrivals etc, in my opinion, is pale in comparison to Kino, a bookstore they could learn a thing or two from. Check out one of Kino’s display below. Look at how beautifully Kino’s books were arranged on the shelf. It got me all excited about reading every book displayed, while my reaction to Tsutaya’s was “That’s it?”

Picture from Kinokuniya Instagram

The children’s section was said to be the largest in the store. Although it did feel so, the books weren’t impressive. There were ample sitting areas though, circular nooks built into the shelves, some low enough for a child to sit inside and read (the design space was said to be tree-inspired I think?) and there’s also a long cushioned bench alongside the entrance.

As far as lighting goes, it does serves its purpose of creating a relaxing ambience, and it’s great for taking pictures too, although I personally prefer bright lighting for a bookshop.

For a book lover, were I to compare Tsutaya Store to Kinokuniya, another Japanese bookstore in Malaysia, the latter wins hands down. Entering Kinokuniya is like entering book paradise. Its bright lighting and massive selection of books (if I can’t find a particular book in my usual go-to bookstores, I can most likely find it in Kino) and in every nook and cranny of the store just screams, ‘Welcome, reader! Books galore here!’ And they too, have a book cafe. Oh, have I mentioned they sell they sell their books and items online too?

So question is, will I return to Tsutaya Books? Doubt so, unless I happened to be, or living nearby. There are other bookstores near where we live, like Lit Books and Pages Book Cafe, that I have yet to check out. Hopefully, one day when things are more settled. My book shopping these days are mostly done online.

Here are my go-to online bookstores: BooksnBobs, Bookurve, BookXcess, MPH Online, Popular Online, Shopee BBW, and Shopee Gerakbudaya

To end this post, here’s my haul from Tsutaya Books:

The Mad Women’s Ball cost RM56.95 (same price in Kino online store, BookDepository RM45.71), The Penguin Book of Hell, RM 79.95 (same price in Kino online store, BookDepository RM58.16), Beyond Belief RM86.95 (this was quite a ‘find’ in a way that my daughter loved it, and I couldn’t find it elsewhere, not even in Kino).

‘Beyond Belief’ is for my book-loving daughter, the other two books on the bottom caught my attention – one because of its title, the other its cover; bookmark is designed by the artist of the month, Humana; the tote comes free with any purchase RM100 and above.

Have you visited this bookstore? Did you enjoy your visit? If you haven’t, do you intend to? If you’re not from here, does your place also have a books/lifestyle store similar to this? Please share with me your thoughts!

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Rosie Amber says:

    Wow, what a place, but sad that it was underwhelming for you. I need to see how those prices exchange into English pounds to understand how pricey they were.


    1. Jee Wan says:

      I mean, I wouldn’t mind going there if only it were closer, but definitely not worth another trip because it’s so far and we have also other bookstores here which I can visit to satisfy my bookstore cravings ๐Ÿ˜€


  2. Wow, what a birthday trip, Jee! What a bookstore! Happy Birthday too! I didnโ€™t realize you had moved to Japan.


    1. Jee Wan says:

      Oh! This one’s located in Malaysia ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Amazing! Such a great post! And happy belated birthday ๐Ÿค— I thought you were stateside, or maybe I missed where this store is located with the understanding it’s a chain. Very fun though…and that bookmark! ๐Ÿ˜


    1. Jee Wan says:

      Isn’t it gorgeous?? But just too pricey ๐Ÿ˜ฆ How have you been, Scarlett?


  4. Happy belated birthday, Jee! There’s nothing like a trip to a bookstore to celebrate a bookworm’s birthday! And I got to say, this bookstore looks gorgeous! And all those little accessories and whatnot, even if they’re expensive, are so, so cute! Thanks for sharing your experience there. If I’m ever visiting, I’ll know what’s worth checking out! ๐Ÿ˜€


    1. Jee Wan says:

      Thank you, Lashaan! The bookstore’s gorgeous for sure and great for book lovers who live nearby ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. stargazer says:

    A belated happy birthday! It looks like a fun way to celebrate. What an impressive bookstore, I guess you can spend ages in there… The Penguin Book of Hell – now what’s that about?


    1. Jee Wan says:

      Thank you, stargazer ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d go back there again if we lived closer ๐Ÿ™‚ The Penguin Book of Hell takes the reader through 3000 years ago, all the way back to the Hebrew Bible’s shadowy realm of Sheol to twenty-first-century visions of Hell on earth! I picked it coz it sounded interesting despite the unfavourable reviews, and the cover definitely caught my attention haha

      Liked by 1 person

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