Morioka Shoten is a tiny bookstore of “a Single Room with a Single Book” in Tokyo. It sells only one book; more precisely, multiple copies of one title that changes weekly, with a small book-inspired art exhibition on the walls. Its challenging, minimalistic philosophy and well-curated shows attract numerous visitors from all over the world.
Takram, as branding director, proposed a slogan and a logo, with the address details within, to express its locational value and the importance of a physical venue in the era of digital reading. It’s a place where a blissed conversation between readers and authors emerges through slow reading – just like a Japanese traditional tea room.
On 5th May 2015, Morioka Shoten Ginza Branch (Shoten = Bookstore) was revealed to the public on a quiet street in Ginza slightly away from the busy main street. Morioka Shoten had opened its first store in Kayabacho ten years ago; it used to attract people with engaging events such as book launches and exhibitions held at the gallery inside the store and so it become “a place where a blissed conversation between readers and authors emerges”. On 15th January 2015, Morioka Shoten became Limited Company to further enhance such engagement and to become a bookstore that offers an exhibition “inspired by a single book”. For the establishment of Morioka Shoten & Co., Ltd., Masamichi Toyama, CEO of Smiles Co. Ltd joined as an investor, and Takram as branding /art director.
A perfect relationship of Books and Readers, dreamt by a bookstore clerk
Yoshiyuki Morioka, the owner of Morioka Shoten Co., Ltd. Ginza worked as a bookstore clerk for eight years in Kanda, a quarter known as Tokyo’s centre of second-hand bookstores. Morioka then went independent, opened his own store and ran a number of exhibitions. This experience eventually led him to an idea of “a bookstore with a single book”. He believed that a single book will offer deeper a understanding and closer relationship with the reader as well as the essential pleasure of book reading.
The birth of “a bookstore with a single book” was brought about by a rather unique encounter. On 2nd September 2014, Masamichi Toyama (CEO of Smiles Co. Ltd.) gave a lecture at “Takram academy”, a serial lecture event run by Takram. With “New Business” as the theme of the lecture, every attendee presented an idea which could win a business opportunity if the idea was bought by Toyama. Morioka attended the event and presented his idea with only one sheet of presentation which said, “Regeneration of Bookseller Atom → A bookstore with a single book”. This very incident brought a path to his ideal book store he has dreamt for many years.
Morioka Shoten Ginza – Suzuki Building: Historical Architecture Representing Japanese Modernism
Morioka Shoten Ginza is located on the ground floor of Suzuki Building, a building that is designated as historical architecture in Tokyo. It used to be the office of Nippon Kobo, an editorial production company led by renowned photographer Yonosuke Natori, who also invited Yusaku Kamekura, Ayao Yamana and Takashi Kohno. They were the pioneers of Japanese graphic design, and at that time, at the forefront in promoting graphic design as an essential factor of modern society, through running a photo and design magazine “NIPPON”. The magazine was a state directed propaganda organ, the first of its kind in Japan, reflecting political and financial circles. With photography and graphic design being the core anchor for Morioka Shoten, choosing Suzuki Building was simply an inevitable coincidence.
Being the witness and facilitator of the birth of the Morioka Shoten Ginza, Takram was appointed as Branding Director by the owner.
The logo consists of a rhombic geometry which was inspired by Morioka’s drawing which he brought to the first meeting with Takram. During the process of design development, the team explored many different shapes and motifs other than the rhombic, but in the end came back to the very origin. In fact, the rhombic shape embraces two meanings, “an open single book” and “a single small room”. The first message was the vision team shared through the design process, and the second message was later proposed by Takram in order to make the geometry more connected to the character of the space, which Morioka often emphasised unconsciously.
Connecting “Location” and “Rhombic”
When Morioka was still a bookstore clerk in Kanda, Tokyo’s center of second-hand bookstores, he happened to find an old building constructed in early Showa period. Not only did he fall in love but he immediately signed a contract to rent a room, which later became the first store of Morioka Shoten in Kayabacho. Back then, even after its launch, the store did not have a logo or mark; but instead, the store always printed its name and address, in the same size and typeface, whenever they needed to be identified on leaflets or their website. This shows how much he considered the location as a core value of the store.
Also, when the negotiation to co-establish the firm in 2014, Toyama finally agreed to invest in the venture when he was guided to the venue in Ginza, understanding the cultural and historical value of the building, and possibilities opening a bookstore there could bring about.
Through discussing with Morioka, Takram thought that the character of the location, or genius loci, had been and would be a very important factor for him, thus should be reflected to the logo design. To be specific, Takram added a message of “a bookstore with a single room” into rhombic shape.
The logo is composed with rather long text; the purpose is in showing the location (the address) to reflect Morioka’s vision. Below are what are included in the logo.
Part of branding statement
Morioka Shoten is a bookstore with a single book
available at a time, for six days.
Morioka Shoten is a bookstore with a single room
with an event to gather every night.
a single room with a single book
The alphabetical letters were prepared to compose the logo. The design started from shaping M and S, the initials of the store, and the same design philosophy was extended to other letters.
Morioka Shoten Planning Room
To plan and organise various events and businesses, Morioka Shoten initiated a “Planning Room”, whose leader was Morioka, with members which included Tomoya Yoshida of AZ Holdings, Kotaro Watanabe and Kotaro Yamaguchi of Takram. The team worked on different themes including events, design activities, goods production and more.
In 2014, Yoshida, then an editor at BNN Inc., published a Japanese translation of a book by Leonard Koren “Wabi-Sabi for artists, designers, poets & philosophers”. For this book, both Morioka and Watanabe participated in the project by contributing afterword essays. The encounter of Takram and Morioka was thus brought about by Yoshida, who also was a part of the creative process in the entire branding project.
Morioka Shoten Ginza
Address: 1F Suzuki Building, 1-28-15 Ginza, Chuo-ku, TOKYO
Open: 13：00〜20：00 (Closed on Mondays)
Creative Direction: Yoshiyuki Morioka, Kotaro Watanabe (Takram), Tomoya Yoshida (AZ Holdings)
Art Direction & Copywriting: Kotaro Watanabe (Takram)
Art Direction & Design: Kotaro Yamaguchi (Takram)
Support: Ken Fujiyoshi (ex-Takram)