Sunday, 10 May 2015

Misuyabari Needle Shop, Kyoto

I had read about the Misuyabari Needle Shop in Kyoto but like most things in Japan I didn't really make a plan to go there as it is often really difficult to track down places as the Japanese address system is tres confusing. Couple that with the fact that many places in Kyoto don't actually have an address...and English signage can be thin on the ground also. Really really!

On our last day in Kyoto we were wandering around the Shinkyogoku shopping arcade in the downtown area looking for a Taiyaki stall (one of Dave's favourite snacks) and stumbled up the needle shop just across the street from it! If I hadn't read about the store online I would've just walked straight past...but thankfully I knew better.

The Taiyaki store on Sanjo-dori
The only clue you'll have that Misuyabari Needle Shop is on Sanjo-dori (aka Sanjo Street) is this little sign out the front that will lead you down a narrow corridor and into a cute, garden courtyard. Above the sign is some signage showing a picture of the pins the store sells so I knew I'd stumbled upon Misuyabari. In Japan shops and restaurants are not only to be found on street levels of buildings - there is so much to discover by going up in to the buildings (they are like "vertical malls" if you will) or by wandering down little alleys that look interesting.

Misuyabari has been owned by the same family for over 360 years (!!!) and back in the day used to supply handcrafted sewing needles to the Imperial Court. Seeing I've not hand-sewn anything in about 1000 years I was here for the super-kawaii (aka super cute) pins...each one is handcrafted and no two are alike. I think when we go back to Kyoto in December I'll go back for some sewing needles though (and I also believe they sell machine needles).

The store is very small. Whilst we were in there two young Japanese also came in and the store was very...cozy. They were enamored by the shop and when the owner pointed out a very cute pincushion to me the two girls gasped loudly, covered the mouths and in a hushed voice whispered "Pincushion! Pincushion! So kawaii! So kawaii!". We all burst out of the most funny moments of the trip.

This is such a special store and such a unique experience. I'm so glad that we stumbled across it, but it's worth hunting for, trust me.

It was hard to narrow down my choice of pins, but in the end I bought just four (as they are about Y300 each, so not cheap, but also not expensive).  I'm not sure what I'll do with these yet, but they are just nice to have!

There are a few blogs/website giving directions on how to find Misuyabari...they are here, here and here.  Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Mother of Reinvention10 May 2015 at 19:17

    Really nice to see proper artisan crafts alive and well. Those pins are really cute. Japan looks like a great place for sewing supplies.