December 04, 2013

Fabric Shopping in Tokyo

Well, this is my last posting from Japan and I would be remise not to say anything about where to shop for fabric in Tokyo for those of you who are thinking of a trip here.
During the five years I lived in Tokyo, I can’t believe I never went to the Fabric Town (Nippori Sen-i-gai) located in the north-east part of the city. 

During that time, I mainly quilted with the fabrics I found at antique markets and a store, Kinkado, which was near the school where I worked. Sadly, that chain of stores is now closed.
Nippori Sen-i-gai is easily accessible by the JR Yamanote line. If your stay is short in Tokyo and you only have a day for fabric shopping, this is the place to go. If you go to this website, you will find an English map.

The following are three of my favourite places I found in Nippori Sen-i-gai.

Tsukiyosu Hiroshi Shouten is #35 on the map. This store has on display a large selection of Japanese theme panels for about $10.00. It also has a large selection of smaller cuts of traditional Japanese prints, some 50 x 53 cm, for only about $1.60

Mihama Cloth is #45 and 46 on the map. This shop sells precut cloth at discount prices (2 m for about $12.50 Canadian). You can’t open the packages and the sale is final but the selection is amazing if you are into traditional Japanese prints. They also carry some fabrics that are no longer in print so you have a chance to find something unusual.

The last shop I really enjoyed was Tomato, #49 on the map. It carries a large selection of everything – indigo blues, traditional prints and modern, current Japanese fabric designers - Echino and Kayo Horaguchi Fabric. Tomato also carries a large selection of Japanese themed panels.

In Nippori Sen-i-gai,  you can also find shops selling used Kimonos, hoari (kimono jackets), obis and vintage fabrics pieces. I found the prices comparable to what you would pay at the antique markets.

What looks like a shorten Kimono is a hoari. This is a jacket worn over the kimono to protect it. These hoari on the right show the shibori technique of dyeing.

If you still have time to shop, head back down on the JR Yamanote Line to Shinkuku Station, the largest station in the world. It is well-signed in both Japanese and English so follow the signs for the East Exit. Stay to the left as you walk out of the exit and you will come to a crossing. Go down one block on the street you are facing and turn left at the pink store, “attagirl”.  On your right you will see Okadaya, a fabric store. On the first floor, there is an area with a large selection of Japanese fabrics including many indigo blue prints.

My four weeks here have flown by and I have very much enjoyed spending time with my sister, Micheline, and my friends. I have revisited many of my favourite places and explored some new places. It is sad to leave but I also look forward to being home again.

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