Acclaimed Writer Shogo Imamura Opens Bookstore in Saga, Repaying Prefecture that Got Him Started

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Novelist Shogo Imamura breaks open a decorative paper ball to celebrate the launch of his new bookstore at JR Saga Station on Sunday.

Award-winning novelist Shogo Imamura has opened a bookstore at JR Saga Station, as he tries to reverse a trend toward fewer bookstores across the country. He chose to open the store in Saga Prefecture as it’s where he made his breakthrough as a novelist.

Imamura is originally from Kyoto Prefecture. In 2016, he received the grand prize for the Kyushu-Saga Taishu Bungakusho, a literary prize for up-and-coming writers founded by the late novelist Saho Sasazawa, who spent his last years in Saga Prefecture. Doors opened for him after he was recommended to a publisher by Kenzo Kitakata, an author from the prefecture who was on the Saga literary prize’s selection committee. In 2022, Imamura won the prestigious Naoki Prize for his historical novel “Saio no Tate.”

Besides writing, Imamura also runs a bookstore in the city of Minoo, Osaka Prefecture, that he rescued from the brink of bankruptcy in 2021. The Saga bookstore, called Saga no Shoten, is now the second under his management.

He decided to open the shop after learning that the only bookstore at Saga Station closed in March 2020, hoping to repay Saga by doing so, he said.

On the store’s opening day on Sunday, Imamura welcomed customers in a clerk’s apron and broke open a ball containing celebratory streamers. He also gave a public talk and signed autographs.

On Monday, the novelist met with Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi at the prefectural government office. “I want to cultivate new readers among the young,” said Imamura.