If you ever go to Japan, you should visit this shopping mall in Osaka Prefecture. It’s called Hirakata T-Site, and it has eight floors and a basement with restaurants, banks, clothing stores, life and beauty stores, bookstores, and more. Tsutaya Books, the largest Japanese bookstore chain, built this mall, and one floor is dedicated almost entirely to books. Even just looking at their website is satisfying. There’s a lot to look at, so here are a few basics.
The word “tsutaya” literally means “ivy store” and refers to a number of people and businesses. Tsutaya is traditionally a chain of book and video rental stores operated by the Culture Convenience Club in Japan, which started in 1982. Tsutaya opened in 1983 in Hirakata, selling music, movies, and books. It is also a concept store, going beyond what a bookstore or movie rental store is.
In 2016, Tsutaya opened Hirakata T-Site at the same place Tsutaya was founded. They keep upgrading and updating the mall to make it better for customers, such as extending business hours.
The bookstore takes up almost the entire third floor, save for a few other small businesses and offices. Tsutaya Bookstore has been called the greatest bookstore in the world, and it’s easy to see why. Even only taking books into account, they have gorgeous bookshelves that are full (but not crammed) with books from all over the world. There’s also a Starbucks in the same area and places you can relax with a book in one hand and a drink or snack in the other.
There are also stationery items from around the world. I heard that on the fifth floor, there is a wall of books that is 7 meters (about 23 feet) tall. (I highly recommend Googling “Tsutaya Bookstore” and looking at images.) There are couches to sit at while reading, and the area gets wonderful lighting from the large windows next to the bookshelves. This floor has other points of interest as well, such as clothing shops. But I think the main attraction is the wall.
Location and Transportation
It’s located in the city of Hirakata in the Oka Higashi-cho district in Osaka Prefecture. It is important to note that in Japan, people mostly rely on public transportation. While you can get to the mall by car, it doesn’t have its own parking facilities. You would have to use the nearby paid parking lots. If you want to avoid it entirely, the mall is a short walk from the Hirakatashieki train station.
What More Could You Ask For?
Hirakata T-Site seems like a place book lovers could spend a day in — or perhaps a week. Even non-book lovers can find something to do with the multitude of shops. There is something for everyone, whether it’s food shops, hair salons, clothing stores, household stores, restaurants and cafes, flower and plant shops, and more. (There’s even a supermarket and clothing repair store on the basement floor.) Just walking around and looking at all Hirakata T-Site has to offer can be fulfilling.
I have never been to Japan, but this place is certainly somewhere I want to visit when I do go. I’ll have to bring plenty of money, and make sure I have a long trip—otherwise, I might spend all my time just at this one mall!
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