Quaint, eclectic and bohemian can’t quite describe my second home in Osaka at Colombo Cornershop books and coffee, but it’s worth to keep trying to find the right word every time I visit. In Shinshaibashi across from the Nanba shrine, Colombo sits on the corner and calls out Paris every time I walk by to do my favorite activity – browse for books and have a cup of coffee.
Some people like shopping at fancy department stores. Well I find that a bore and way to easy to just buy something off the rack. Hunting through second-hand stores like Colombo is quite the treasure hunt. Because true value is in finding the unusual. Plus, just the ambiance of cozy vintage over every shoulder in this tiny shop makes you feel a flashback to Paris in the 20s – a real authentic place infused with the soul of art.
The owner, Takahiro, keeps a large supply of used and vintage foreign language books and magazines in English, German, French and Spanish in addition to Japanese. I spotted a book published by City Lights in San Francisco the other day.
Out on the street corner, I’ve picked up on occasion some great old books with titles on existentialism, philosophy, poetry, and some favorite authors’ works, like George Orwell, Virginia Wolff and Isak Dineson.
Recently I got a beautiful book in Japanese on plants and animal paintings of the Edo period.
Takahiro also sells art books. There’s everything from vintage photography books to a pocket book of Takahiro’s cats called Family Ties.
There’s also local Poet Jerry Gordan’s book Ghosts. It’s a best-seller there, as an Australian woman beat me to his last copy, so he met me at the shop for a cup of coffee and an autographed copy of his hand-stitched and custom lithographed book of poems.
There are other things for sale besides books and coffee, like socks, buttons, tiny things. And then some things aren’t for sale. I found a cool old zine but had to put it back when I was informed it wasn’t for sale – just decoration, so you will need to ask to make sure if you can buy something!
Best part about it is to hang out and see who is there. I met Jerry’s friend John who was having a cup of coffee and hanging out at the shop. Every time I drop by I meet somebody new, and learn a little bit more Japanese, as well as get some great books! It’s a great way to meet people and catch up on all things Osaka regarding arts, music books and more.
A real person runs Colombo Cornershop books, not a corporation!
Real poetry is to lead a beautiful life.
To live poetry is better than to write it.
― Bashō Matsuo