• TSUTAYA is a franchised store for shopping, and renting books, DVDs, CDs, and games
  • Working at TSUTAYA helps you keep up with fast changing trends
  • You need to sign up for their membership card (T-Card) to use their services
  • TSUTAYA BOOKS has thousands of books available

What is TSUTAYA?

TSUTAYA is a nationwide chain store in Japan where you can buy and rent books, comics, DVDs, CDs, and games. “Tsutaya” came from the name of a bookstore owned by a grandfather of TSUTAYA’s founder. TSUTAYA is operated by Culture Convenience Club Co., Ltd. (CCC), and since the first store was founded in Hirakata, Osaka, in 1983,

TSUTAYA has been shaping lifestyles in Japan as a “provider of culture to anyone, anytime, anywhere,” according to CCC. SHIBUYA TSUTAYA, for example, rents more than 700 million DVDs every year. As of December 2013, the number of TSUTAYA stores are 1,461 in Japan and 7 in Taiwan.

How to rent a DVD

One of the reasons why TSUTAYA is popular is its simple way of renting. As an example, here are some simple steps to follow to rent a DVD.

  1. Sign up for TSUTAYA’s membership card: Before anything, you need to sign up for their membership card called T-Card. With a T-Card, you can rent DVDs, CDs, and comics at all TSUTAYA stores in Japan. In order to sign up for a T-Card, you need identification such as your passport, residence card, or driver’s license. There are different levels of T-Cards to choose from, so select the one you like. You can sign up either online or in person.
  2. Go to the nearest TSUTAYA store and find a DVD you would like to rent: There are hundreds or even thousands of DVDs at each store. There are various genres, including romance, action, horror, mystery, and Sci-Fi. Inside each DVD box, there is a transparent box with a DVD in it. Take the box inside to rent the DVD. Sometimes, you might see the inside boxes empty. This means the DVDs are being rent by someone.
  3. Go to a cash register to rent the DVDs: Bring the transparent box to the register. Leave the outside box at a shelf. A cashier will ask you to show your T-Card, so remember to bring it with you. After you pay, the cashier will put the DVD in a black bag and give it to you. Now you are ready to go.
  4. Enjoy the movie!
  5. Bring the DVD in the black bag to the store to return it. The due date for returning the DVD is on the receipt. You can also mail it back depending on the store. If you do not return it by the due date, they will charge a late fee according to how long you have kept the DVD.


T-SITE is a shopping complex consisting of TSUTAYA BOOKS and some other stores, restaurants, and cafes. The concept of TSUTAYA BOOKS is to be “a lifestyle navigator” for grownups, according to CCC. There are currently three T-SITEs in Japan: Daikanyama, Tokyo; Shonan, Kanagawa; and Hirakata, Osaka.

There are thousands of books, including many English books, stored in each TSUTAYA BOOKS, and you can read any book anywhere in the shopping complex without purchasing it. You can go to a cafe and sip coffee over a novel, or you can sit on a bench outside and read under a tree.

Also, some good news for foreign people visiting Japan for less than six months is that there is tax exemption available, so they can get books without paying tax.

A bookstore to fit your lifestyle

TSUTAYA has been providing a rich selection of books, DVDs, CDs, and games for decades as a “provider of culture.” You can enjoy or get more familiar with Japanese entertainment culture by visiting TSUTAYA. And of course, you will find the best movies for your movie nights!

Their history

Below is a brief history of TSUTAYA according to CCC.

March 24, 1983: The first TSUTAYA store, TSUTAYA BOOKS Hirakata, opened in Hirakata, Osaka. Back then, they focused only on the sale of books and CDs.

July 1993: TSUTAYA RECORDS was franchised for CD sales.

July 1994: TSUTAYA BOOKS was franchised for book sales.

October 1994: TSUTAYA Yebisu Garden Place opened in Meguro, Tokyo. Also, TSUTAYA Yamanouchi opens in Okinawa.

December 1995: TSUTAYA Higashikouri opened in Hirakata as a model “multi-package store.”

May 1997: Game TSUTAYA is franchised.  Their game software retail business started.

July 1999: TSUTAYA online began.

April 2003: TSUTAYA TOKYO ROPPONGI, the first BOOK&CAFÉ store, opened in Minato ward, Tokyo.

April 2004: TSUTAYA membership cards (current T-Card) were issued throughout Japan.

September 2010: The TSUTAYA Ranking service began. This was a forerunner of today’s TSUTAYA App.

December 2011: DAIKANYAMA TSUTAYA BOOKS and the first T-SITE opened as a new lifestyle navigator for grownups.

December 2012: TSUTAYA YAYIYINGYIN Minquan opened in Taipei, Taiwan, which was TSUTAYA’s first store abroad.