On finding and buying textiles in Tokyo (or where I’ve been shopping, anyway!)
Living in Tokyo for a year has definitely been exciting but also tough for this textile lover! In short, I want to buy absolutely everything I see… Well, most things anyway. Here are some of my favourite spots for textile things in the Tokyo area:
Fabrics by the metre
If you’re looking for fabrics by the metre, head over to Nippori Sen-i Gai (日暮里繊維街) Fabric Town. Many local shops have maps of the area, but you can also find them online behind the previous link. Nippori Fabric Town is essentially a whole street of fabric shops and shops selling sewing notions! It’s either heaven or torture, depending on how you take it—a pre-established plan or budget may help to filter the abundance and offer!
Other cool shops that sell Japanese fabrics include Cocca in Daikanyama (代官山) and Nuno in Roppongi (六本木). Nuno is especially interesting for weavers, while Cocca is more focused on printed textiles mainly in cotton and linen. It’s always worth checking what that minimum cut is—at some shops it’s from 1 metre up while others allow shorter cuts as well.
If you’d like to buy Japanese sewing patterns, I recommend any decent sized bookstore! I found a variety of both magazines and books to choose from at my local bookshop. Many have very clear drawings and photos in addition to written instructions (which are in Japanese only), so the language barrier might not be too hard to beat if you have prior sewing experience!
Apart from fabric shops, Nippori Fabric Town is also a great place to find vintage kimonos, yukatas and hantens—for men and women alike! There are many small shops for second hand kimonos along the main road, and prices are very reasonable. Some items are lightly stained, sure, but always check and determine whether it’s something that bothers you (or if the stain is even that visible!). Personally, I was really really close to spending all my money at the first shop I came across…
Two fun brands to check out for “Made in Japan”- clothing are Marble Sud in Shimo-Kitazawa (下北沢) and Harajuku (原宿), and Sou Sou Kyoto in Aoyama (青山). Sou Sou Kyoto makes kimono-inspired clothing in bright and playful patterns, whereas Marble Sud has a selection of comfortable and modern clothing in a variety of fabrics (embroidered, printed, knits).
For vintage clothing, head over to Shimo-Kitazawa (下北沢), or to Koenji (高円寺). Both areas have many second-hand shops and small boutiques!
Textile products (souvenirs etc)
Textile products in the souvenir style (small & affordable) are sold about everywhere, but here are some favourite spots:
In Tokyo, Asakusa (浅草) has a couple of shopping streets full of little shops for souvenirs and the like. Many have a decent selection of small textile goods and other traditional crafts—small bags, fans, furoshiki (decorated square fabric for wrapping), tenugui (decorated cotton napkin), etc…
Just outside Tokyo, Kamakura (鎌倉) and Enoshima (江ノ島)—both very popular among tourists—have main shopping streets that boast a selection of souvenir shops. On Kamakura’s Komachi Dori (小町通り) there’s even a second-hand kimono shop! Both Kamakura and Enoshima lie about an hour outside central Tokyo, but if you happen to make the detour, make sure to stop by!
© 2019 Elisa Penttilä