Reading pictures:

Art books in Tokyo


To look and learn
or to make you look good – you can't go past an art book. When literature and fine art come together its usually on a coffee table. Here are two good places to hangout while indulging in cultural literature. And enjoy a good cup of coffee or a beer while you're at it. Downstairs, off in a back street in Omotesando, is Nadiff. Short for New Art Diffusion, this place has it all, except the easiest location to find. Look for the yellow cube entrance. Nadiff has a huge range of art books, but what sets it apart from other good bookshops is its specialised range of artist's books and catalogues of exhibitions from around the globe. If you are after a limited edition of the works of photographer Araki, hard cover, nearly half a meter in size, then Nadiff has it for a hot -- like the book's pink cover -- Y150,000. However, Nadiff also has a huge selection of publishing by Japan's foremost contemporary photographers. This includes (for a fraction of the above cost) photo artist books by Rika Noguchi, Mika Ninagawa or Taishi Hirokawa. Nadiff also has a small gallery space. Midori Mitamura's installation 'New Siberian caf?' is presently on show. (Through October 18). Also at Nadiff, design books and over a hundred art/culture magazines. A fabulous selection of music CD's from soundscape artists to minimalist composers is also for sale. Erotic poster art by M. Toshio Saeki is available in editions in French, English and Japanese for those that actually read about it. Or as a gift try art critic Tamass on 'Contemporary Arab Representation' – send one to George 'always look before you bomb' Bush. Needing to tidy up all those art books lying around – who could resist– artist Yoshitomo Nara's 'Puppy Bookends'? Nadiff has a good selection of all the bits and pieces of merchandise that contemporary artists seem to indulge these days, trinket art for the masses. All of this plus, Caf? Crepuscule, which serves half-decent food and Belgium beer, make this an enjoyable place to while away a few hours or meet friends. If it is hanging out in groovy places while you shop, then none better than 'On Sundays', (closed Mondays). The shop attached to the Watarium Art Museum. This striped building and especially the basement bookshop space is imbued with very hip vibes -- a cluttered coolness. The books follow in a similar vein. Upstairs they have a large selection of arty things from other museums, designer goods from around the world and artist multiples. Designer desk lamps and collectable editions things to play with during meetings at work. Downstairs is packed with the glossy and the grungy – In both camps is the large publication on Graffiti artist Barry McGee. Of esoteric note is 'Utopia – transmission 2 ' I love u see u inside''. This set includes book, CD and tee shirt in box. And enough quotes from groovy philosophers to impress anyone at hip parties. On Sunday's also has a good range of CD's, DVD's, and videos by arty types. Here you will find recordings of the Fluxus Suite and some of the latest computer generated sound art. Buy something -- it will give your home Hi-Fi speakers a new experience, even if you won't be able to whistle the melody. Downstairs there are also a few tables where you can sit and enjoy good coffee or a beer and rest from all the browsing. Be warned, however, if you want to sit and read, you will need to buy your own magazine.

Watarium Museum NADIFF 03.3403.8814 4-9-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku 11:00 – 20:00 (every day)