Sunday, 16 March 2014

Fabric Shopping in Nippori, Tokyo (Japan)

Last month I was lucky enough to celebrate my birthday in Tokyo. Wow, WHAT A PLACE! It's such a vibrant city - so fast-paced, busy, noisy and frantic, yet also so orderly and calm in a way. I've never seen people queue to get on a train before...I LOVE Tokyo!

Besides eating, one of the things I was really keen to experience in Tokyo was shopping for fabric in Nippori "Sen-I Gai" or Fabric Town.

This area has over 80 shops selling all manner of fabrics, buttons, trims, clothes, leathers (and furs - yuck), lace, ribbons and kimono fabrics. If you can't find what you're looking for in fabric town, then you're not looking!


As I'm only new to sewing I decided to only buy fabrics that I know how to sew with - so that pretty much means cottons. This also helped to expedite the shopping processes which my husband was thankful for as he was tagging along behind me.  

I'm now KICKING myself that I wasn't looking for knits as Tilly and the Buttons has just released her new pattern, Coco - a perfect beginners knit dress. D'oh, d'oh d'oh! There were some FANTASTIC printed knits in the stores I went into but I hardly gave them a second glance.

For a new sewist an experience like Nippori "Sen-I Gai" is totally fascinating, and totally overwhelming.  In order to minimize the chance of me having a total fabric flip-out on the streets of Tokyo I decided to just visit a few stores...and get in, look around and get out. You could literally spend DAYS in this area. DAYS I didn't have!

The main store I visited was called Tomato (oh, LOL Japan you are so funny)! Tomato has a few stores along the main "fabric town" strip - some selling notions, some selling fabrics and some selling outlet fabrics and clothes. One of the stores had about EIGHT FLOORS of fabric...holy moly. There was about two floors just of knits (again, kicking myself)!

After our stint of fabric shopping we headed back towards Nippori JR station.  It was about 3 degrees outside yet we saw this poor old guy set up outside his shop, sewing away on the street. He must have been freezing, it was SO cold!

You know what's good for fighting of cold weather? A steaming hot bowl of ramen. We found this totally dodgy looking place right near Nippori JR station and wandered in when the waiter came out to confirm they did indeed serve ramen. Boy, it was good - some of the best ramen I've never had!

How to get there:  take the JR Yamanote line to Nippori Station.  From the South Exit turn right, and head towards Nippori Chuo Dori (that's a street name). Hopefully this (badly scanned) map will help you out.

Oh, and stay tuned for my next blog post - a show and tell of my Japanese fabric purchases!


  1. I am almost speechless at how jealous this post makes me, in all the times I've been to Japan I've never made it to Fabric town. Next trip though I'm so there!!

  2. Great post Mel. Now I just have to plan a trip !!

  3. I'm already plotting my return for early next year!

  4. I want to go RIGHT NOW! I've got regret over so many things no bought.

  5. Next Sydney sewists meetup venue?? All I need is a plane ticket and an empty suitcase!

  6. Catherine Alekna23 March 2014 at 18:25

    omg i need to go here one day! my boss will be in NYC next weekend and i booked him a hotel near the garment district. i was so tempted to ask him to pop into Mood and get me something, but i highly doubt he would! hahaha

  7. I tried to post a comment on your other blog, but it wouldn't let me.
    It's lucky you didn't spend too long looking for Golden Gai as most of the places don't actually sell food. It's more hole in the wall bar type places that have 5 or 6 seats each. I've been a couple of times and never saw any serving food (unless I totally missed that?).
    The place you were asking whether it was an izakaya or not indeed looks like an izakaya. When S and I went to Tokyo, we also looked for some izakaya's and I *think* we went to one - we sat in small booths and ordered small meals with drinks so I assume it was an izakaya?
    Loving your Japan posts!!