A mobile bookstore, dubbed the "Book Bus" and operated by Value Books, spent three days from Tuesday visiting areas of western Japan that were ravaged by torrential rains last month, and provided free books to those affected by the rain disasters who are now living in cramped conditions in shelters there.

Value Books, based in Ueda, Nagano Prefecture, buys and sells used books online, but has also redecorated a vehicle used as a mobile library and turned it into a bookstore. When painting the bus, the Value Books employees also left space where children could add to its livery by drawing on it themselves with chalk.

The Book Bus visits locations nationwide to sell books, usually at the weekend. More than half of the used books bought by the firm cannot be sold, either because the company has too many copies of the same book in stock or because they are not in pristine condition. Since the company usually donates those books to either nursery schools or seniors' centers, it decided to distribute books to west Japan flood victims for free when it heard about their circumstances.