Iwasaki: Founder, Green E Books
In May of 2004, Green E Books was opened at the north-east corner
of Kawabata and Marutamachi streets, near Keihan Marutamachi Station.
Green E Books is the first bookstore in Kyoto to specialize in used
English language books, making it an invaluable resource to English-speaking
foreigners in Kyoto who cannot afford expensive imported books.
Green E Books is unique in
other ways as well. The atmosphere of the small shop is both home-like
and exotic, overflowing with green plants which change from season
to season, creating a relaxing atmosphere. You can even order a
cup of coffee and read a book under the shade of a miniature tree!
Green E Books founder Yuko
Iwasaki was born in Miki City, outside of Kobe. She first went abroad
at the age of 16, to study for a year in the United States. After
returning to Japan, she moved to Kyoto in order to study Spanish
at Kyoto Gaikokugo Daigaku. After graduating, she returned to the
United States to work as an intern at a Marriot Hotel in Orlando
Florida, gaining experience with business reception and VIP relations.
However, her visa ran out after a year and a half and she subsequently
returned to Japan.
Prior to opening the bookstore,
Ms.Iwasaki explored working for an Asian goods import shop in Kyoto,
and then found employment at a company that exported dry goods from
India. Her job allowed her to visit India and Indonesia every few
months, and she welcomed this chance to explore different cultures.
Ms. Iwasaki's interest in India can be seen through the many Indian
books and textiles she sells in her shop.
Ms. Iwasaki's long term career
goal is to work in the United States or Europe, selling Japanese
export goods, as well as doing Japanese-style interior design. However,
Ms. Iwasaki decided to try running a business in Japan before trying
her luck abroad. She had heard foreign friends lament the lack of
a used English bookstore in Kyoto, and decided it would be a good
project to try, since it would give her a chance to interact with
foreign customers on a daily basis.
Ms. Iwasaki wanted to name
her bookstore "Green Books", but after discovering that there were
already many bookstores called "Green Books" across the world she
decided to add the E to the name. Ms. Iwasaki says she chose the
letter E because many good English words start with E, such as Enthusiasm,
Energy, Environment, Ethnic, Ecology and so forth.
When looking for a location,
Ms. Iwasaki decided she wanted to open her shop close to the Kamo
River. After some searching, she managed to find her current location
at Kawabata Marutamachi. The location seemed perfect for an international
business, as it was very close to the Goethe Institut German Cultural
Center, the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, and
Metro, a nightclub that is very popular with foreign residents of
When Ms. Iwasaki first decided
to open the shop, she distributed fliers asking people to donate
their used English books. She was only able to collect around 200
books this way, so she decided to import many English books from
India, where she could obtain a large number of unusual books cheaply.
She continues to buy and trade for the books that customers bring
in, so the stock isconstantly changing. She also sells other unusual
products from around the world, such as clothing and fabric from
India, wooden bowls and eating utensils, and imported snack foods.
Iwasaki's hobbies include collecting fabric and textiles, interior
design and travelling the world. The influence of these interests
can be seen in her shop. Iwasaki san designed her shop with the
concept of "a foreign country within Kyoto" that appeals to the
five senses, and this comes across in the exotic decorations, abundance
of greenery, and wide variety of books from all over the world.
She leases the green plants in her shop from a plant specialist,
and plans to change them throughout the year to suit the season.
Her shop's distinctive logo, signs and other graphic design elements
were designed by her business partner Naomi Kawai. Ms. Iwasaki says
that she comes up with the ideas and that Ms. Kawai gives them a
form. She would like to produce original goods based on the Green
E Books logo someday.
Green E Books is more than
just a bookstore for Ms. Iwasaki. She has helped put on various
events at her bookstore to help bring the foreign and Japanese community
together. One example would be "One Day Professor", an event where
she invites an expert in an unusual subject to give a talk at her
shop. Another example would be the "Blue Party" she held this past
July, where the party-goers wore blue clothing and drank blue drinks
while chatting, playing games and reading books.
Why not stop by Green E Books
and discover a whole new world inside Kyoto?
-B. Jarvis and A. Kanitani
Green E Books is located on the second floor of the near the North
East corner of Kawabata and Marutamachi, near the Keihan Marutamachi
Hours are 15:00-23:00 on Mondays through Saturdays, 11:00-22:00
on Saturdays, and 11:00-21:00 on Sundays.