I’m still in a whirl of excitement about my trip to Japan earlier this month. So, so good. I knew it was going to be good, but it was even better. I only had 10 days, and half of that was work-related, but we managed to squeeze quite a lot into the remainder.
Including fabric, of course.
I’d read the Cashmerette guide, but didn’t manage to cover nearly as much ground as she did (see work-related factors, above). In Tokyo I did get to the Shinjuku Takashimaya department store, and can confirm that if you’re looking for Hello Kitty Liberty prints, that’s your place.
The other fabric shopping I did in Tokyo was (of course) Nippori Fabric Town. It’s only a 15 minute train ride north of the city, on the very convenient Yamanote Line. Take the north exit from the train station, and there are the signs.
This is the street you’re looking for.
Think it looks unremarkable? Wrong, it’s fabric mecca. Keep walking past the little statue….
There you are.
Tomato is five shops, the largest (on the left of the street) with five storeys. I was there on a Saturday, and the bottom floor was basically a mosh pit of people trying to get to the 100-yen shelves.
Afterwards I found out that there’s another 100-yen shelf in the smaller Tomato next door, which was much less crowded. Each of the five floors has a particular theme, and you pay separately on each floor. These were the coated fabrics for wet weather gear. I didn’t buy any, but just look at them.
And of course the weird and wonderful. For instance, banana print sweatshirting.
To avoid total anarchy, in the mosh pit there are separate queues to have the fabrics cut, and to pay for them.
I looked around lots of other shops on the street, but only bought from two others. At this one (which I think is called Pakira, it’s one of the closer shops to the station) I bought two gorgeous textured cottons, to make little dresses for the nieces. There’s lots of Liberty here as well, including pre-cuts.
And at this one, Mihama, the Fashion Critic bought some awesome printed cotton for a shirt. The man at this shop was a delight. The fabric here is pre-cut and already bagged, which is a bit of an unusual way to buy it (no fondling). But the range is wonderful.
We also visited Kyoto. (Side note: Kyoto is amazing). The only fabric shopping I did there was at Nomura Tailor. I love the way they have their fabric set out, with neatly displayed samples along the walls. When you find what you want, a helpful young guy pulls out the bolts for you and takes them to the counter to be cut. No lugging bolts of fabric round the shop, and no fear of missing out, since everything they have is on display.
I would highly recommend arriving in Kyoto late in the day, because the main shopping streets around the Kawaramachi area are illuminated and it looks gorgeous. In one of the arcades there’s a little shop that sells Japanese-made knives and scissors, and I bought some very special thread snips.
They were packaged beautifully, like everything in Japan.
This is my haul.
And these are my plans:
- Mustard cotton blazer with grey trim
- Grey checked jacket with three-quarter sleeves
- Raspberry linen blouse
- Blue linen scarf
- Two shirts for the Fashion Critic
- Grey work blouses for my sisters
- Trousers and t-shirts for the nieces
In non-sewing-related news, we were smack in the middle of cherry blossom season. They really are beautiful.
And the locals truly lose the plot over them. This was a park with picnickers on every free inch of ground.
I’m really glad we were there in April.
We also visited the snow monkeys near Nagano. It was great to get away from the city.
There wasn’t any snow left, but one little guy had a dip.
And the hot springs were capital-A Amazing.
Oh Japan. I love you. I don’t know what took me so long.