Nitaya, moderator of the Tsukuba Insight Forum email list, gives us some hints about book shops and grocery stores.
Maruzen is a national well-known book store that has three branches in Tsukuba: one at Tsukuba University, another at Tsukuba Women's University, and a wee one at the School of Library and Information Science (Kasuga Campus). The TU is considered the headquarters and it is full of academic literature. It also serves the researchers at many of the institutes in this area. You can order books, and you are automatically eligible for a 10% discount on books and stationery, as they assume that everyone is related to the university. (I was able to get A5 9x20 looseleaf which is rarely found in Tsukuba/Tsuchiura by ordering from Maruzen.) They also carry one or two types of electronic dictionary for which the Ibaraki distributor office gives a special discount. (eg. Casio Exword for about 30,000 yen)
Another popular bookshop is Yuhodo, which also has three branches: one in Umezono (on Noda route near Cineplex), one in Azuma (near the main branch of the public library near Tsukuba Center), and the newer bigger one in the Sakura Techno-park area, which I like to call TU New College Town. They are all full of books and stationery.
College Town is on Hiratsuka Dori. Going north on Higashi Odori, turn right onto Hiratsuka (the Takarabune cake shop annexed by a good and cheap French restaurant called Chaya will be on your left, the Unagi eel restaurant on your right). This part of Hiratsuka is flooded with restaurants, shops, a gas station, and all kinds of businesses including innumerable apartments. Some good shops include:
Kawachi is on the right hand side (if you are going eastbound on Hiratsuka) a few hundred yards from Higashi Odori. It's semi-supermarket style, sufficient for singles who don't cook much. You can get almost all kinds of household goods, cosmetics (at a discount price), and medicine here. (To get dry ice for your ice cream, you will need a coin from the cashier to operate the machine.)
Kasumi is a block further away, next to the Yuhodo book shop (which has a roof shaped like an open-roof planetarium). This Kasumi is medium/large sized. They have a special fresh vegetable corner at the front. The Little Mermaid Bakery in the corner has special sales every Thursday. Their homemade cookies section is very good, all freshly baked and tasty.
The Yuhodo book center is between Kawachi and Kasumi. Its parking is next to Kasumi's.
Big Ben DVD/Video
Another shop I should mention is the Big Ben DVD/Video rental shop. It's before Kawachi, nearer to Higashi Odori. My former colleague once mentioned this shop but I never stopped by until recently because the parking lot was always full . To me, their system is somehow better than Tsutaya's in the MOG. Upon getting a member's card, there's an English explanation for you to read. The due date (the next day, 5am) might be a little confusing. Wednesday is all half-price. Don't misunderstand that it's a no-business day -- it's the busiest day, I'd say!
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