Monday, 2 June 2014

Nippori - Tokyo's "Fabric Town"

If you sew and you visit Tokyo, you HAVE to visit Nippori.
It is a bit out of the way although if you are going to the park or museums of Ueno then you're practically there. Kinda. Plus it has Yanaka next door which I've written about here.

If you are visiting for fabric then you can't do better than read this blogpost for directions from the station and a run down of shops. The information is still correct and her favourite shops are coincidentally mine too (I only just noticed this even though I've referred to her directions several times).

When you come out of the station you'll find this guy waiting for you.
Nippori Statue
He looks pretty epic but it's all japanese to me on the plaque so I don't know who he is. Enough of that though. Shops!
There are basically fabric shops everywhere although a minority, like the one above, specialise in notions. You can meander in and out of these and feel the fabric, but it's always wise to wait until you've seen Tomato's prices and offerings before you buy. I feel sorry for the other shops when saying that, since Tomato already has 4 shops on the one road, but it is true.
The shop to the left of these two is also Tomato and then the one I was standing outside was the fourth. The biggest is the one on the right, which has 5 floors of fabric goodness. As you go in the 100 Yen wall is on your right.
100Yen section
A lot of this is crap, but I have had some nice bargains including the retro 70s stuff I used for the curtains in our living room. 12 metres of floor length curtainage for about £10? No brainer. However, be ready for the elbows in this section. It gets very crowded! The fifth floor holds all the quilting gubbins.
Fat Eighths
Fabric Bolts
Plus a whole lot of accessories.
Bag Handles
Then going down you have traditional fabrics, linens, man made fantasy dress up stuff, knits, baby fabric and then lots of random things plus traditional japanese cotton prints on the ground floor. It was a 10% off day when I took these photos and this was the queue to get your fabric cut from the bolt. Although actually it moved very quickly so I was only in line for about 5 minutes.
Fabric cutting queue
I actually wouldn't mind queuing for a little more than just getting my fabric cut with some of the cutters. They all seem to be young men, while the staff on the other floors and behind the tills are all women. Dunno why.
Fabric cutting
I'm 36 in a month - clearly my time for turning into a lecherous old lady.

Outside, another Tomato shops sells notions including all these colourful zips.
I always stand and look at this display because it's so pretty and so neat at the same time. It basically embodies what every seamstress aspires to but will never achieve. Plus these are just one length - they had other displays in different lengths and widths.

Heading back towards the station this is another nearby shop that stocks a lot of japanese style printed cottons.
Suprisingly few of the shops sell pre-cuts like fat quarters or half metres but this one does.
Japnese fabric

If you do happen to visit there are a number of cafes near by which are all of the usual good standard, but there is also a shop called Cozy Cakes Ginza, or something like that, which you often see branches of near stations. Their chocolate cake, middle of the photo below, below the orange things, is the closest I've had to a Sara Lee Chocolate Gateaux - now sadly discontinued. 
Ginza Cosy Cakes
Pooch tells me the others are very nice too, but I know where my heart lies. Once you have told them what you want they'll ask you how long your journey home is and give you an appropriately sized and self-contained ice pack to go in the box to keep your cake refrigerated on the way home. Genius. 

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