A place for meeting people who are impressed by reading picture books.
Text : Ayumu Sasaki / Photo : Kanako Takimoto
Books & Café Wonderland has a huge olive colored tarpaulin sign on the first floor in the building right in front of JR Mukomachi Station. At a first glance, it does make you wonder if this is a bookstore? or cafe? I would say both are correct. Around the entrance of the store, it is a section for picture books and children’s books carefully chosen by Miyuki Hasegawa, the owner, and you can see a cafe with a gallery in the rear of the bookstore.
When Ms. Hasegawa started this bookstore, there were 3,000 books here, but she started reducing them to 2,000 books which were chosen carefully through her eyes. She said, “If there are plenty of books right in front of you like in a large bookstore, you can hardly choose what you are looking for. When I think of what kind of books I would like to recommend to you, I started selling books that makes me feel “Wow! this is very interesting!” through my own eyes instead of having something trendy things here.
“When I was a child, I was a library assistant and read through all children’s books like a book-worm, however, I realized how amazing a picture book was when I became an adult. A kindergarten that my child went to had a room like a library and they had a volunteer who could read books aloud to children and it seemed to me that they really cared about a book culture, so that is why I started having books around me all the time in my life since then”.
“One day, I cried loudly when I listened storytelling of Swan Sky (written and illustrated by Keizaburo Tejima, Riburio publishing). I was really impressed how amazing it was even though the book was for children. Since then, I started volunteering at a library and participating in a lecture of writers and communicating with parents outside more. Meanwhile, I realized that we couldn’t see all those great books around here even though there were so many out there and started collecting picture books for me and my kid and now it became where I stand”.
When she chooses books, she has a concept to tell children as a mother such as life, peace, and natural environment of the earth. (of course she chooses books depending on children’s ages and absolutely for fun). She told me, “A picture book is created by an adult choosing words carefully. Its illustration is not just a simple background since children can learn a lot of things out of it. I think a picture book is the first literature and art for children”.
When I asked her any recommendation other than Swan Sky, she answered: The Stone Lion (written by Margret Wild, illustrated by Ritva Voutila, Kokudosha publishing) a story about a bronze lion statue which has a heart, The Lion’s Share (written and illustrated by Chris Conover, HOLP SHUPPAN publishing) a story about a prince of lion kingdom learning wisdom and knowledge outside of his world and growing to the the one, The Giant Hug (written by Sandra Horning, illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev, Tokumashoten publishing) a story about a piggy tries to send his hug to his grandmother living far away, Shinkansen-no-tabi ~travel down through Japan by Hayabusa, Nozomi, Sakura~ (written and illustrated by Komayasukan, Kodansha publishing) a story about traveling down through Japan from Tohoku area to Kyushu area on Shinkansen train, Poponpi-Ponpon (written by Ineko Shochiku, illustrated by Yuki Sasameya, Fukuinkan-shoten publishing) which parents and kids can read it with a physical contact.
She added one more thing saying, “This Sumire-jima (written by Sukeyuki Imanishi, illustrated by Yoshiro Matsunaga, Kaiseisha publishing) has a story of children and Kamikaze squad in 1945. It has a common war story that my mom told me and one of the impressive books I still remember”.
If the customers have some times, she actually reads a book aloud in front of them. She told me, “Unexpectedly, a man stopped by at the cafe and he started thinking that he was going to buy a picture book for his child and I gave advice to him. A picture book will be inherited to the next generation and more and it will be still very interesting after reading it over and over again. It is like a photo album since there will be a layers of memories inside”. This is not an ordinary cafe or even a picture book store, but also this is the place for a cultural exchange, so that I invite writers and illustrators to have an exhibition of original illustration and also storytelling event. She added in the end, “Encountering people and books is my precious life treasure”.
ADDRESS : 8-2 Kuguso Terado-cho, Muko City (MAP)
PHONE : +81(0)75-931-4031
HOURS : 8:00 a.m. ~ 6:00 p.m. Sat & Holiday : 9:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m.
CLOSED : Sunday
WEBSITE : http://www.wonderland1995.com