This year I concentrated my fabric shopping obsession (and yes, I think I really do have a problem!!) in Osaka, so I’ve written this post to help any other travellers wanting to have a sticky beak at the lovely shops in that city!

If you want to have a look at my ridiculous haul from this trip, I wrote about it here.

A couple of things to note about shopping in Japan: most shops don’t open until 10am, but many will stay open until 7 or 8pm, depending on their location. Some shops that are multi-level will require you to make your purchases on each floor, but others let you wander from floor to floor with a basket of goodies. Tax in Japan is 8% – this is usually not included on the ticket price, so remember to factor that in when you are working out the prices.

If you are shopping in Tokyo, obviously Nippori Fabric Town is the place to go – a whole street of fabric shops! I didn’t go there this year as I was spending my spare days in Osaka. However, the days I was in Tokyo for the karate seminar, I was staying in Kamata, and there is a Yuzawaya store about 200m from my hotel! So of course I paid it a quick visit!

Yuzawaya

Yuzawaya in Kamata is a massive store – with three shopfronts, two of these have 5 floors and the other has 3. Covering all aspects of craft, from sewing to knitting to papercraft to flowerwork and everything in between! If you can only get to one store in Tokyo, this is a good one!

To get there, take the Yamanote line (green) to Shinagawa and change to the Keihin-Tohoku line (blue) towards Kamata. In only three stops you’ll be in Kamata.

When you come out of the ticket gates, turn right and head out of the station via the stairs or escalators (if you go past Starbucks you’re heading the wrong way!)

You’ll come out into a pretty plaza area with a couple of shopping arcades on the other side. Turn left and walk down the covered street, past the Tokyu Store and in about 50m you’ll come to the first of the Yuzawaya shopfronts on your left!

After Tokyo I headed down to Osaka on the bullet train (yes, I did Bento on the bullet train – such fun!) I had three shops to visit there, and found another couple on the way as well.

Toraya

Once I got to Osaka, the first place I visited was Toraya – again this one was very handy to my hotel. Thanks to the excellent directions from Betty Stitchup in her blog post I found it first try. If you are doing the Shinsaibashi Shopping Street, just keep walking south and it will become the Ebisubashi Shopping Street. Toraya is near the Namba end of Ebisubashi, sort of diagonally opposite McDonalds. There are a confusing number of exits from Namba Station, and you can even end up in a different underground section called Namba walk. Look for an exit that takes you to Midosuji, that is the major street that runs parallel to Ebisubashi.

Toraya is three floors of fabric fun with a small haberdashery section in the top floor. It uses a truly fascinating purchase system. Once you have decided which fabrics you want (this could take a while!), get the attention of a shop assistant (they all wear a little tool belt). They will cut two little samples of your fabrics and staple them to a reciept with the fabric code number and the amount you want. You get one copy of the reciept and the other goes in a pneumatic tube to the top floor. Ten minutes later you rock up to the cashier on the ground floor and present your receipts and your fabric will be there waiting!

Pneumatic Tube System!

The fabric range is good, less crafty prints than Yuzawaya and more dress fabrics. Lots of plain wovens in a great range of colours, textures and content types, and the upper floor of more fancy evening fabrics was lovely. There is also a remnant shelf on that floor – I did have to restrain myself!!

Although many shops in Japan are cash-only, Toraya will take both Visa and Mastercard (I didn’t try AMEX so I’m not sure). The store is open 10am to 7.50pm.

 

Also, if you are looking for somewhere to eat, from Toraya go west down the side street and across Midosuji – there are a bunch of restaurants in the side streets around here that look fantastic!

Otsukaya

A very similar store in content to Yuzawaya, Otsukaya is a beautiful shop with five floors of stunning fabric and haberdashery.

Again I was able to find this easily via Betty Stitchup’s blog, although the walkway she mentions was partially closed for renovations and I went a slightly different way.

From Shinsaibashi Station, take the Midosuji line to Esaka. Head towards exit 4 & 5, and you can go straight ahead into the building there. There’s a bookshop dead ahead and coffeeshop on the ground floor if you need refreshment! Walk downstairs and take that exit near the coffeeshop, then turn right into the walkway. Turn left onto the street, cross over – watch out for bicycles! – and walk on towards the big Pachinko parlour, then right down that street. Walk about 2 blocks and Otsukaya is on the left hand side, opposite the waffle rocket (you’ll see what I mean).

Ground floor is wovens, loads of crafty cotton prints in various weights, plus plain drill and a great range of denims too. Second floor has patterns, stretch fabrics and more fancy wovens, including some nice-looking athletic fabrics.

Third floor has haberdashery, and masses of beautiful kimono crepe and cotton, and more evening fabrics. There’s a Marimekko corner too! As well as what looked like a tailoring or class area.

Fourth floor is furnishings and more haby (bag making supplies!) and patterns.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the 5th floor sign and I can’t remember specifically what that floor contained – it was certainly more fabric, and I think it was suitings and high-end textiles.

Otsukaya is closed on Wednesdays, but open 10am to 6.30pm for the rest of the week. I paid with VISA and with cash, but I beleive they accept Mastercard as well.

Prices were very reasonable, especially on the denim and the bagmaking hardware!

Nippon Chuko

I discovered this place via Yelp but found my own way there – getting a tad lost on the way! Nippon Chuko is an online wholesaler, but the Osaka store is open for retail. I beleive they also ship international from the online store.

On the Midosuji line, take the subway north and get off at Hommachi Station. You can walk from here, or you can go one stop east on the Sakaisuji line to Sakaisuji Hommachi station. From Sakiasuji Hommachi station, take exit 7 and turn immediately left at the top of the stairs. Walk along towards the big green Fanbi Town sign. When you get to the intersection with McDonalds above Kohyo, turn left and Nippon Chuko is a few doors down on the left.

There are lockers at the front of the store where you can stash your bag while you shop (don’t forget to take your wallet with you into the store) for a returnable 100Y coin. A blessing if you’ve been humping your backpack or a heavy handbag around all day!

This place is less about fabric and more about craft – but again, 4 floors!! There is SO MUCH HARDWARE here – if you are into bagmaking at all this is the place to go. I have never seen so many handles, straps, brass, leather, snaps and clasps in one place!

There is also an extensive range of threads and zips – and I mean extensive!!

There are some basic woven poplins & cottons on the second floor, and a lovely assortment of heavy kimono cottons on the top floor, as well as some quilting cottons.

You can grab a basket and shop all the levels, and bring your goods to the cashier on the ground floor for a single purchase. There are cutting tables on the fabric floors where the staff will cut & bag your fabric for you to take to the register. I used a VISA card here with no problems.

Nippon Chuko is open 9am to 5pm, closed on Sundays.

 

Torii

In between Nippon Chuko and the intersection, there is a shop called Torii. Reminiscent of the consignment fabric stores right here in Sydney, this place had a two-metre minimum purchase. I arrived there only 15minutes before closing so only had a breif glance around; there seemed to be plenty on offer, heavy on the upholstery & decorating fabrics.

 

Embroidery & Ribbon Shop

Also in between Nippon Chuko and the intersection is a lovely little shop specialising in ribbons and embroidery. Again I only had a few minutes for a quick glance around but they had an amazing range of ribbon and a second floor that I didn’t even get to.

Random Designer Fabric Store

Across the road from Torii, I spotted a shop with literally MOUNDS of fabric piled up at the entrance. I popped over and discovered more mountains of textiles piled up in there! I’ve really no idea if this was some kind of consignment store – I don’t have enough Japanese language skills to really ask the staff.

However, after a quick poke around, I realised that most of the fabrics were high-end designer pieces – I’m guessing end-of-roll stuff. I saw a gorgeous embroidered silk velvet that was Y64,800! (Although maybe that piece was a sample, and the price was per roll?? I’ve no clue!)

 

Atelier for Nani Iro (& craft beer!)

The Atelier for Nani Iro is a small studio with a range of Nani Iro fabrics available to purchase, and a rack of beautiful sample garments to browse. No photographs allowed in this beautiful, light-filled studio, although I did convince the staff to allow me to take a a picture of the label, from the fabric I bought.

I found the shop easily, with the excellent pictorial instructions provided by Japanese Sewing Books.

Take the Midosujui subway line (I was taking it from Namba station) and disembark at Higobashi station. Take exit 7, and walk straight ahead towards the blue Aoki sign. Walk a couple of blocks, until you see a Yoshinoya on the next block – turn left before that. You’ll go another couple of small blocks, passing a car park on your left, and then you will reach a park on the right hand side. Nani Iro is directly opposite the park, on the second floor of the bulding with the gold lettering.

And if you (or your travel partner) needs refreshment after (or during) your shopping, there was a tiny craft beer garden only a couple of doors away from Nani Iro – I didn’t drop in but it looked totally sweet!

Handy Shopping Phrases

Here’s a couple of very basic phrases to help you shop for fabric in Japan!*

I-ku-ra des ka? (How much is it?)

Ko-re wa o ku-da-sai. (This one please.)

Ichi metre o ku-da-sai. (One metre please!)

Ichi metre goju o ku-da-sai. (One metre fifty please!)

Ni metre o ku-da-sai. (Two metres please!)

Credit-o card-o deska? (Credit card okay?)

Su-mi-ma-sen, ….. doko des ka? (Excuse me, where are the ……?)

Toy-ret-u wa doko des ka? (Where are the toilets?)

Ko-re wa ko-tsu-ton des ka? (Is this cotton?)

Ari-ga-to go-zai-masu! (Thank you!)

(*Disclaimer: Please note, I DON’T speak Japanese, so I’m not promising the above phrases are grammatically correct – but that’s all I needed to do my shopping, so you could find it helpful. And if all you can remember is please and thank you, that still counts for a lot in super-polite Japan.)

And if you have limited time in Tokyo and can’t devote several hours to Nippori Fabric Town, I recommend Tokyu Hands. There is one near Shinjuku Station which is surrounded by shopping malls. Tokyu Hands has a craft and homewares section which is fun to browse, even if you don’t buy! (There is also one in Kyoto, not far from (on the same street as, in fact) Nomura Tailor.)

I hope this post is helpful to anyone headed to Japan who might be interested in a side trip to one (or more) of these shops. Great places to get some sewing souveniers!

I’d love to hear about any other Japanese sewing adventures – please leave a comment below!

 

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