Japanese Library Card Design

How many cards do you have in your wallet? Bank cards, credit cards, insurance cards, train passes… These days we seem to always be carrying a whole pile of cards, some of them precious ones that we use every day and others that we have almost forgotten about.

How about your library card?

This is one of those cards that you keep in your wallet but might not get out very often. But unlike shop loyalty cards, we don’t throw library cards away. And take a closer look at the ones in Japan and you’ll see there are all sorts of interesting designs, from cute characters to others that look more like hospital patient ID cards! We rummaged around in our wallets and found a whole treasure trove of fun examples.

Cards with Ward Logos

Toshima Ward library-card-01

Library cards are, of course, ID cards for a public facility and a card like this really gives you that impression. Toshima Ward’s logo combines the borough’s tree, the Yoshino Cherry, with its flower, the azalea.

Ome City library-card-02

This time what really stands out is the way the logo integrates the Kanji character for “blue” (which is also the first character in “Ome”). Note the hole in the top left corner. Many library cards have these so that you can attach it to some string. Young students then hang a library card round their necks.

Chuo Ward library-card-03

This rather intergalatic design features an image of the Earth floating in space above the Chuo Ward’s logo. Also, do you spot anything about the logo? It’s made out of four “C” letters. Most library cards tend to have a little box for writing your name on the front but Chuo Ward’s libraries have cards with the library user’s name on the back!

Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture library-card-04

Of course, when we think of Yokosuka we think of a port

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because it’s so famous as a naval base. No surprise then that a ship has been integrated into the logo on the card here.

Animals and Characters

Shinagawa Ward library-card-05

Shinagawa’s bird is the black-headed gull, which is dominating the card design. Again, note the hole punched into the corner.

Chiyoda Ward library-card-06

Ducks? No, these cute birdies are actually swans! Much of Chiyoda is occupied by the Imperial Palace, so the birds are meant to online casinos depict the stylish white winged creatures to be found in the moat.

Shibuya Ward library-card-07

Who’s this cute dog, then? Of course, the mascot character for Shibuya’s libraries is Hachi. The card design has once changed and used to feature an eel.

Minato Ward library-card-08

The zoo continues, this time with a sea otter having a very relaxed read.

Taito Ward library-card-09

Libraries in Taito print the information about what you have borrowed directly onto the front of the card, so this relgates the illustrations to the fringes. Still, it forms a nice border!

Suginami Ward library-card-10

Here’s a nice combo of the ward symbol in the top right and the ward’s mascot Namisuke in the bottom left. Namisuke is meant to be a little fairy the size of a puppy.

Nerima Ward library-card-11

Nerimaru is Nerima’s official anime character (Nerima is also home to the studio that produced ‘Atom Boy’, Japan’s first ever full TV anime series). Apparently Nerimaru is a radish!

Picture Book Collaborations

Kita Ward library-card-12

All the kitties from the picture book ’11-biki no neko’ (11 Cats) are here on this library card.

Sumida Ward library-card-13

This time it’s a tie-up with the book ‘Shirokuma-kun, doko e’? (Little Polar Bear, where are you going?), about a polar bear who gets separated from his father and stranded in the jungle. He ends up encountering lots of different animals.

Atsugi City, Kanagawa Prefecture library-card-14

The picture comes from the classic ‘Guri to gura’ (Guri and Gura). It reminds me of how I got my parents to take me to the library when I was young because I so wanted to read this book.

Unfortunately we were only able to collect library cards near our offices or homes. We want to see more! If you have one that you’d like to share, please let us know