This is one of my favourite fabric stores and as we usually stay in Shinjuku it’s super convenient. Yuzawaya is one huge floor filled with fabrics, notions, buttons, wool, and loads of craft supplies. It's situated on the 11th floor of the Takashimaya Department store which also happens to be the home of Tokyu Hands “lifestyle” store (another shopping must – 8 floors chock full of stuff you never knew you needed!). To get there from the Shinjuku JR station take the New South Exit and follow the signs for Takashimaya Times Square. If you plan on doing Yuzawaya and Tokyu Hands on the same day, give yourself plenty of time and allow for a recovery break in between - you'll need it!
Kamata is about 20 minutes from Tokyo Station on the JR Keihin-Tohoku Line and Yuzawaya actually takes up 3 buildings in this location. All of the buildings seemed to have fabric on the ground floor and a lot of it. The top floor of the first building had quite a large selection of notions and craft supplies but also some wonderful kimonos with second hand ones going for a crazy 1,000 yen which is about US$8.50. I didn’t get to check out all the floors in each building but they appeared to sell toys, stationery, art supplies and cosmetics amongst other things.
|Kim & Tracey trying on kimonos - look at the shortlist pile on the floor!|
There are even more branches of Yuzawaya and Tokyo Craft Guide gives a great lowdown of these with maps if you want to explore more.
Nippori - Fabric Town
Yes – an entire district devoted to fabric and all things sewing related! Heaven! It’s about 10 minutes from Tokyo Station on the JR Yamanote line. Take the East exit at Nippori station and head diagonally across the big square towards the right until you get to the furthest street which is Nippori Chuo Dori. Head down here a few blocks and you’ll see the "Tomato" sign on the left hand side. Tomato is the biggest and most well known store here and you’ll be lucky if you get to any of the other many shops in the area – 6 floors of wall to wall fabric of all kinds. Next door is “Arch”, their discount store with prices starting at a ridiculous 100 Yen a metre. Great if you live in Tokyo but when having to think about the suitcase and weight allowance, one has to be pretty selective, difficult as that may seem.
Go here for an excellent detailed map of the shops in the area as well as a list of what they stock.
|How many choices of leopard print?|
Here's a tip - most stores in Fabric Town only accept cash. Also be warned – this is not for the fainthearted - expect to get totally overwhelmed! Next stop ...
There are 3 floors of fabric here but the ground floor is where the fun stuff is. All the fabric is displayed in small pieces hanging from a ring above the bolts. Apparently when you want to purchase something the assistant cuts two small fabric samples and staples them to two receipts with your order. One is for you and the other gets sucked through a tube hanging from the ceiling and shoots off to the cutting floor. Once your fabric is ready it’s delivered by chute to the cash desk where you show your receipt and voila, your fabric is ready to collect and pay for. I should have bought something just to witness this but unfortunately nothing really grabbed me at the time.
If you’re staying near Shinsaibashi which is the big shopping area of Osaka, it's worth a look. There is a huge undercover shopping arcade that runs between Shinsaibashi and Namba stations called Ebisubashi, and Toraya is at the Namba end. To get there take Exit 20 at Namba Station, turn immediately right when you get onto the street and take the first right again. You’ll see ABC Mart up ahead on the right hand side, take another right turn here and you’ll see it just up ahead on the left.
This was a 20 minute train ride from Shinsaibashi station on the Midosuji line but well worth the visit. Lots of goodies here from notions to traditional Japanese prints, cute Kawaii cotton prints, expensive silk and suiting, knits etc. and none of the crowds that you get in Tokyo.
To find it take Exit 4 from Esaka Subway Station, you will end up crossing a walkway that runs above the road and then going down some stairs. At the bottom of the stairs turn right and walk along the paved walkway until you reach the street. At the street, turn left and then take the first right where you’ll see a pachinko parlour on the corner. Walk a couple of blocks and you’ll see a red awning on the left hand side, this is Otsukaya. There is also a Tokyu Hands near the station which you will see on your way to Otsukaya. It’s not all that big but still worth popping your head in for a wee look.
|Otsukaya's red awning on the left|
So there you have it - my guide to fabric shopping in Tokyo and Osaka. I'd love to hear from anyone else who's had the pleasure of fabric shopping in Japan. Of course aside from the shopping, Japan really is a wonderful place to visit and I encourage anyone to go there for a totally unique experience, you won't be disappointed. I know I'll be going back again!