Roppongi Hills library proves a hit


A unique membership library in the high-rise Roppongi Hills complex in central Tokyo is attracting a lot of users, especially businesspeople.

Roppongi Library, on the 49th floor of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, the core of the building complex that opened in Minato Ward in 2003, is designed to allow users to “return to the way they are,” said an official at Mori Building Co., developer of the urban center.

The library, which commands a view of nearby Tokyo Tower and the Rainbow Bridge in the distance, gives people a place to concentrate on studies or come up with new ideas, the manager says.

People aged 20 and older become members by paying ¥9,450 a month.

The library currently has about 3,200 members, with people in their 20s to 40s accounting for about 80 percent.

Among its unique features, the library has some 15,000 business and other books, 300 to 400 of which are replaced with new publications every month, but users can’t check them out.

Instead, books are sold to members at prices 10 percent lower than the retail prices and restocked.

The books are placed on 6-meter-high, floor-to-ceiling wooden bookshelves.

Although a nearby library run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has 1.8 million volumes, Mori Building decided to open Roppongi Library because a library is meaningful not only for its book collection but also as “a place where people can work and exchange information.”

The library also has a cafeteria that serves light meals, coffee and even alcoholic beverages to encourage users to engage in free conversation.

It is open every day from 7 a.m. to midnight.

The library started with a monthly membership fee of ¥6,300 and raised it to the current amount in April 2007, but the number of members has continued to increase regardless.

People who can work anywhere with a notebook or tablet computer find the library convenient.

“I prepare business plans and hold talks here,” said Toshiyuki Yoshioka, a 37-year-old management consultant for small and midsize companies.

The library “costs less than a rental office and allows me to concentrate on work and relax at the same time, because of its openness,” he said.

Communication among users has developed into group studies on English, presentations and other business skills, held in rooms on the same floor.

In July 2010, Mori Building opened a similar library within walking distance of the Diet in Chiyoda Ward, setting the monthly membership fee at ¥31,500.

With around 200 members with an average age of 45, the Hirakawacho Library allows users to “find themselves as they are and consider what attracts them most in their lives,” a spokesman said.