Fabric shopping in Tokyo with Yoshimi and Novita. We were meeting for the first time in reality, although we had met and knew each other virtually before this time. Isn't the internet amazing? Still blows my mind a bit... I'm so grateful for this wonderful online sewing community that just over a year ago I never even knew existed.
We met in the morning and took the train together to scope out of their favourite fabric shops, took a break for lunch, followed by just a little more fabric shopping, and still later met up with a friend of Yoshimi's for a special Japanese tea ceremony with very interesting green tea on the menu that I had never had before. It was great fun! I'm enormously grateful to Yoshimi and to Novita for coming out to see me, and for their help and guidance. Tokyo is BIG, around ten times bigger than Perth easily! Also the fabric selection there is also on a grander scale than I'm used to.
Down to specifics...
Helpfully, Tokyo has concentrated a lot of its fabric trading down into one area, one street even. The Nippori district is so famous for fabric shopping it even has its own official website where you can find a bigger version of this very useful map to download. We alighted at Nippori train station and took the very short and straightforward walk to the main street where multitudes of fabric Aladdin's caves await. To make matters even easier the pavement twixt station and destination are marked clearly "Fabric District" and the main street itself likewise marked "Fabric Street" on the footpath. Or was it possibly Textile District/Street? Whatever, still pretty handy, right? Kudos to Tokyo for superior organisation and efficiency.
We certainly did not go into all of these shops, partly because that would have taken days for dedicated fabric enthusiasts such as ourselves. But there's no doubt you can find an amazing selection of fabrics, all the way from cheap and cheerful cottons up to beautiful and very expensive wools and silks. I decided, after a bit of indecision re some very tempting and price-y Italian wools, to limit myself just to Japanese fabrics. After all, when in Japan...?
We spent most of our time and money in Iden (http://iiden.tanmono.com, actually two shops next door to each other, numbers 75 and 76 on the map) and Nagato (ph. 03-3806-3637, number 35 on the map). From these stores I have five new beautiful lengths of fabric; three winter-weight wool/silk blends, for a skirt, a dress and a jacket respectively, some lightweight apricot cotton denim/gabardine and a length of summery printed cotton.
Also worth a mention is Tomato, a big discount store with several outlets along the street. I think the one we went into was Tomato Notion, number 46 on the map. Visit-worthy for haberdashery and all extras remotely related to sewing, sort of like our Spotlight. A simply gorgeous selection of buttons... I could not resist these cute little things.
Something to keep in mind for the Westerner shopping in Tokyo is that streets are not actually marked in the same way that we are used to. I kept checking out the, well, what I thought were street signs, so that I could jot down addresses for later reference, but actually were not. If you do not have much Japanese the street signs can be a little confusing, and one is better working from a map like the one above with landmark buildings and train stations to guide you, rather than relying on finding a street name that is possibly indistinguishable from all the other various signs that will be around it.
An internet tip I found to be true... bring cash, as credit cards are not always accepted. Another handy tip?... 7Elevens have ATMs.
oh, and for permission to use her photograph of us, above...!