Daiso Japan, the obscenely well-organized Japanese $1.50 store, was enough of a magnet to draw lines of obsessive shoppers to Carrollton, but now the same strip mall on Old Denton Road has added Kinokuniya, upping the ante and making the shopping center the ultimate destination for those of us who live to browse.
The Japanese book store, which opened Dec. 30 and celebrated its grand opening Feb. 25, sells a beautifully curated collection of new and popular releases, books on Japanese culture and cooking, manga and more in the world of publishing. It also offers beautiful stationery, gifts, collectibles, decorative items, art and office supplies. It’s perfectly laid out for leisure-shopping, and the staff is friendly, helpful and fun to hang out with.
The paragraph above doesn’t come close to explaining how awesome it is in person. It’s all about the presentation, the discovery and finding that one thing. For example, when my friends asked me to meet them there for the first time (while we waited on our table at the nearby revolving sushi bar, because sushi and prizes and seriously, this strip mall), I walked in, looked side to side and said, too loudly, “Shut up. Are you serious? They have my favorite notebooks?!” I took my niece, who at 10 years old is fairly “Whatever” about most things. She literally shrieked when she discovered the companion book to the “Tales of” series of video games she’s all about. I took my friend, and she looked through the front window, stopped me and said, “OK, what’s my budget? I need to know before I walk in there.”
It’s really too much to take in during one visit. There are so many things to look at, admire and consider. So, here are the best things, right now, at Kinokuniya. Oh, and keep in mind, there will be a second location in Plano, with an estimated opening in April, according to regional manager Shigekazu Watanabe. More Kinokuniya for the masses.
It may sound fairly ridiculous to list mechanical pencils as one of the best things to get at a Japanese bookstore, but shut your facehole, because you don’t know — yet. All sizes. All colors. Perfectly organized. Need Milan erasers in all sizes to pair with your pencils? Of course, they’re there.
Sort of obvious, but hello. Have you ever seen a more beautiful display of books on shelves? These shelves store everything from Sherlock Holmes manga, to the expected Sailor Moon, to One Piece, which Watanabe says is the most popular sold in the store (and currently, it seems, the world), possibly due to the size of the series at more than 80 volumes. There’s definitely some more adult stuff going on there too, but the kids’ excitement was contagious.
There’s a person-sized Pusheen and a ton of other Pusheen-related items, from stuffed danglers to books. There’s a line of Sushi Cat collectibles including slick file folders, coin purses, key chains and more. They have ceramic maneki neko (“lucky cats”) with a fortune you can pull out of the cat’s, um, butt? I need a translator for mine, but I still feel pretty lucky. There are cat cards; cat mugs; cat totes; Higuchi Yuki art and postcard books featuring his amazing cat drawings; 1-inch circle badges featuring cats in various attitudes — probably one that represents your cat. There’s so much more. It’s all there. Right meow. Yeah, I said it.
Um, yes this needs its own category aside from the pencils. I’m no calligraphy pro, but the build-your-own set-up is impressive. Watanabe explained to us: Choose your nib, body and ink and the Kinokuniya folk will recommend the journal with the ideal paper match. It’s a whole thing. Also, remember those four-way pens when we were kids? The ones with red, blue, green and black? Well, at Kinokuniya you can build your own. Add three widths of purple ball point if you want — it’s your pen game. There is also the most gorgeous selection of Sharpies, Le Pen and a variety of gel pens, as well as other art pens suited for drawing.
Straight up: I’ve purchased three cards at Kinokuniya. Never before have I had someone compliment me on my card game, but with each of these cards, I got mad props. These aren’t just average greeting cards. Some have moving parts, some look hand-painted, some have 3-D action going on. They’re all tiny works of art you can give away and go back later and buy again for yourself.
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We mentioned the calligraphy recommendations already, but no joke: If you have a type of paper you prefer for sketching, this is the place to shop. Whether you like your bullet journal spiral bound and lined; you want graphed paper, but only on one side; if, like my husband, you absolutely need dotted paper; if you want an edge-bound notebook that will offer motivational quotes to get you through the aforementioned bullet journaling, they have all of these things. There are also some really pretty small journals you should buy and give as gifts because there are never too many notebooks.
Find Kinokuniya at 2540 Old Denton Road, No. 114, Carrollton