When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

The Japanese Bookshop That Sells Just One Title A Week

Tokyo's Morioka Shoten Ginza bookshop
Tokyo's Morioka Shoten Ginza bookshop
Jonas Pulver

TOKYO — It's a bit further away from the bigger stores in Tokyo's Ginza district. Between the sake bars, along the tall towers that watch day and night over the Sumida River, a quiet art gallery hosts large, abstract paintings. And across the street from a shop for urban bikes with monochromatic frames is a bare storefront, where the door is ajar. It's 20 square meters at the most, with a bench, a chest of drawers for a counter and a wooden easel. On it is one open book. Just one. Welcome to Morioka Shoten Ginza, a minimalist bookshop.

Actually, on this day two other paperback formats supplement the stock, a trio of titles by Japanese novelist and poet Sakae Tsuboi (1899 — 1967). The graphic designer and the publisher are here, wrapped in their black cloaks with their ink-colored hair. The narrowness of the space is cozy, and they talk about the choice of paper, font and the plastic quality of the texts. I stay an hour. Another author will take the place of this one next week. That's the cycle founder Yoshiyuki Morioka has maintained since she opened the space a few months ago.

In front of the Morioka Shoten Ginza bookshop — Source: Google Street View screenshot

When a friend told me about it, I immediately wanted to go there. Normally I spend my time in shopping malls and 10-story bookstores. I'm a child of the multiplex era, a touchscreen enthusiast, I'm addicted to e-books bought with a single click, I'm a Spotify listener and Netflix watcher. But I felt somewhat moved by this single book offer.

The Morioka bookshop is a poignant commentary, a counterpoint to the idea that larger offerings are synonymous with greater freedom. I'm not saying I'm going to give up the kilometers of store departments or the information highway. But too many choices can themselves be a form of imprisonment. If I buy a bad book, I can only blame myself. After all, I should have chosen better.

At Morioka, the extreme of limited choice underlines another freedom: coming back the following week, discussing, debating, criticizing, appreciating, congratulating, questioning, exchanging, meeting.

On my way home, I had a book in my bag by an author I knew nothing about writing on a topic that I wasn't particularly drawn to — and in a language that is still complicated for me. I took a deep breath and smiled, alone, under the Tokyo lights.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


How A Xi Jinping Dinner In San Francisco May Have Sealed Mastercard's Arrival In China

The credit giant becomes only the second player after American Express to be allowed to set up a bank card-clearing RMB operation in mainland China.

Photo of a hand holding a phone displaying an Union Pay logo, with a Mastercard VISA logo in the background of the photo.

Mastercard has just been granted a bank card clearing license in China.

Liu Qianshan


It appears that one of the biggest beneficiaries from Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to San Francisco was Mastercard.

The U.S. credit card giant has since secured eagerly anticipated approval to expand in China's massive financial sector, having finally obtained long sought approval from China's central bank and financial regulatory authorities to initiate a bank card business in China through its joint venture with its new Chinese partner.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

Through a joint venture in China between Mastercard and China's NetsUnion Clearing Corporation, dubbed Mastercard NUCC, it has officially entered mainland China as an RMB currency clearing organization. It's only the second foreign business of its kind to do so following American Express in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the development is linked to Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting on Nov. 15 with U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco, part of a two-day visit that also included dinner that Xi had with U.S. business executives.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest