Warning: [PHOTO HEAVY]
Hello! I went to Japan (Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto) for a little less than 2 weeks last month. I visited a few craft shops while I was there. I thought I’d share my experience and some pictures (and to document for myself, for future reference).
This isn’t intended to be a craft shopping guide – there are many on the internet already, including Trip Advisor and other travel websites, as well as those posted by bloggers (some helpful ones I used include Tomatoes and Jasmine, From Down the Well Part 1 & 2, Sew Independent, Blossom Heart Quilts, Time Out Tokyo and Tokyo Craft Guide 1 & 2). So in this post there won’t be instructions as to which train to catch or how to get there…I got lost a few times myself, haha.
Just a heads up – I was mostly interested in Japanese cottons especially Japanese prints; Japanese dressmaking books; and chirimen craft kits featuring their traditional techniques. So that’s the focus of what I looked for in craft shops. Other supplies and goodies may have been slightly overlooked in the stores that I have visited.
A summary of shops I went to:
- Yuzawaya (Shinjuku branch)
- Nippori Fabric Town
- Handcraft Dream
- Tokyu Hands (Kyoto branch)
- Hobbyra Hobbyre
- Nomura Tailor (Main shop)
TOKYO – YUZAWAYA
Ok, so I read that on the 11th floor of Takashimaya department store in Shinjuku, a few minutes’ walk from the New Southern Exit of Shinjuku metro station, therein lies a craft shop akin to Spotlight in Australia and Joann’s in US…boy, I should have budgeted more time for it. So much to look at. I blew over 50% of my craft budget there alone – and it was only the first craft shop I visited. Oops! It’s got everything – fabrics, notions, craft kits, yarn, beads, leatherwork supplies, jewelry, books, papercraft, stationery, bagmaking materials etc etc etc.
There are other branches of Yuzawaya in Tokyo and throughout the country. The largest store is in Kamata in Tokyo and it spans not only floors, but BUILDINGS. I actually stayed in Ginza while in Tokyo, and there used to be a smaller Yuzawaya branch there, but it was permanently closed since January 2015 :(
TOKYO – NIPPORI FABRIC TOWN
The trip to the famous Nippori Fabric Town (20 mins on the train from JR Tokyo station, then about 10 mins walk from Nippori station – North Exit) wasn’t on my itinerary to start with, as we didn’t have much time in Tokyo (not much after sightseeing, eating and non-craft related activities). We had planned a whole day to go to Mt Fuji, but part of the train line to get there was closed due to heavy rain. It was disappointing, so obviously I needed to go to more fabric shops to cheer myself up.
There are over 80 fabric and sewing related shops in the Fabric Town. I spent the most time in the main Tomato store, which has multiple floors of fabrics and notions. Apart from what I was looking for (Japanese textured cottons and printed wovens), there are large selections of knits, fleece, evening wear, cute animal prints, liberty, yuwa, quilting materials etc. I read that it doesn’t take credit card, but it did when I paid (maybe they have increased their facilities over time). I also visited a few smaller shops specialising in traditional Japanese print fabrics. My feet were falling off after a few hours of walking in the swelting heat and obviously I didn’t go to all 80+ shops in the district.
NB. It was raining quite heavily on my way there and I took the wrong turn because I didn’t see the signs on the floor and in the street. On my way back I found them!
So with 75% of my craft budget now gone, and my luggage some kilograms heavier…we headed to our next stop, Nagoya. There is a Yuzawaya in Nagoya too, but I didn’t visit any art/craft/fabric shops in Nagoya. Went to see the Castle and spent another full day watching the Grand Sumo Tournament at the stadium. I did buy a few Japanese craft books from a bookstore at the train station. There are also shops everywhere that sell Furoshiki (hemmed piece of cloth for wrapping presents or made into slouchy bags).
Final destination – Kyoto.
KYOTO – HANDCRAFT DREAM
I stumbled upon this shop on the 4th floor in the AEON Mall, about 10 mins walk from Kyoto JR Station. It’s got some interesting fabrics, yarn, craft kits, embroidery kits, leather-work and resin jewellery materials.
KYOTO – TOKYU HANDS
Tokyu Hands is quite a prominent chain and there are branches in Tokyo as well, which I didn’t visit. I saw it in Kyoto close to Takashimaya and went in to have a look. It’s got multiple floors and mostly stocks items for the home, decorative and practical items, cute stationery, masking tape, stickers and so on. It’s not a “craft store” as such, more like a lifestyle store, but a papercrafter would be delighted to be there (I used to do a lot of papercraft, now I’m more into fabrics and sewing). Pictures are of the ground floor only as I was in a rush.
KYOTO – HOBBYRA HOBBYRE
This is on the 6th floor (if I remember correctly) of Takashimaya department store in central Kyoto. I had huge expectations of it, as I thought it’d be like Yuzawaya (since it was also on top floor of Takashimaya, but in Tokyo). It turned out to be quite a small shop. It’s mostly buttons, embroidery, Sashiko kits, threads and beads. I also wasn’t in the mood – spent 2.5 hours in the blazing sun watching the Gion Festival parade, and was dehydrated and exhausted!
KYOTO – NOMURA TAILOR
I read that there are two branches of Nomura Tailor quite close to each other in downtown Kyoto. I found the main one with 3 floors, but didn’t see the smaller one – I didn’t actively seek it out, as you see, after visiting the main branch, I have fully exhausted and exceeded my overall craft budget and wondered, “WHAT HAVE I DONE?!”.
That’s it. Now let me lie down in foetal position while I shiver in anticipation of my upcoming credit card bill.