Mr. Maruyama introduces books that express the individuality of shelf owners, both at Ruhon in Wakaba Ward, Chiba City.
A shared bookstore called “Ruhon” has opened in the shopping street “Tsuganodai Shoppers” in Tsuganodai, Wakaba Ward, Chiba City. Each of the 100 shelves lining one wall has a “shelf owner” who sells their favorite books. The shopping street, which has many vacant stores, was once bustling with shops such as butcher shops and fresh fish stores. Izumi Maruyama (59), the president of a local real estate company and the owner of this bookstore, says, “I want it to be a place where people gather like it was in the past.I can create the town I want by myself,” sowing the seeds for the future. (Yu Osawa)
When you open the white door and go up to the second floor, you are greeted by a wall of bookshelves. Each shelf measures approximately 30 centimeters in length, width, and depth, and there are 100 shelves in total. Shelves can be rented for 3,300 yen (tax included) per month, and the “shelf owners” who rent the shelves can sell their favorite books. Each shelf has a name such as “Hazuki Bunko” or “Gomamisoan” and is lined with novels, cookbooks, manga, and other works that express the individuality of the shelf owner.
A wall-to-wall bookshelf welcomes guests.
Mr. Maruyama started his real estate company in 2016 in a section of Tsuga no Dai Shoppers, which consists of 14 lots. At that time, the shopping district’s vibrancy had faded, and many shops with their shutters down were conspicuous. When Maruyama was a high school student, he was a place where you could buy everything from food to miscellaneous goods, and it was crowded with people. “I want to bring back the vibrancy.” With this in mind, he planned a marche to sell fresh vegetables and other items. Approximately 100 people gathered and it became a regular monthly event.
In 2020, he purchased two vacant stores next door to a real estate company. The first floor was converted into a rental space with a kitchen, and on the fourth Friday of every month, they began serving pork soup set meals priced at 300 yen each under the name “Onigiri Onigiri Gakubu Shokudo.”
When I was thinking about how to use the second floor of the rental space, I came up with the idea of a bookstore. She has always loved books, and when she was in elementary school, her dream was to read all the books in the library. She said, “It would be fun to live surrounded by books.” By chance, she learned about a shared bookstore in Tokyo and had the opportunity to talk to the manager. Although there were concerns about whether the store owners would gather, they raised money through crowdfunding and opened the store in February of this year.
The name “Ruhon” was taken from the concept of “Creating books, gathering books, connecting books.” Maruyama says, “I can connect with people through books.I hope that many people will come and think, “That shopping street is doing strange things and it’s interesting.”
The store is open from 1pm to 5pm on Fridays to Sundays and public holidays. The store owner takes turns guarding the store each day. We are also recruiting shelf owners. For inquiries, please contact “Tsuganodai Real Estate” managed by Mr. Maruyama at 043 (307) 9232.