In between narrowly missing a bidet facial (courtesy of my youngest who can’t resist pressing buttons on the Japanese toilets), spending my life savings in Tokyo’s toy shops and my fave shop ever, Tokyu Hands, and stroking hedgehogs and bunnies in a pet cafe, I managed a few hours’ respite in Tokyo’s fabric district, Nippori.
I’ve been to Japan a couple of times before and had only found expensive Liberty lawn in the main department stores. Since finding the online sewing community I’ve been able to track down some of Asia’s finest fabric emporiums. For my trip to Tokyo I consulted Cashmerette’s fantastic account of fabric and yarn shopping in Japan. Her top tip that I share with you is: bring cash. Most stores don’t take plastic. Here I am, pictured above, on the starting blocks, and in the footsteps of many illustrious sewing bloggers (who’ve also posted the same photo)!
There’s a whole street of fabric shops in Nippori, the largest being Tomato (which has several stores in a short stretch). Being a fool, I decided not to head straight for the 5-storey main Tomato but work up to it slowly, savouring the anticipation. I made a couple of purchases en route: some red French terry for a Bluegingerdoll Bonnie and some black cotton/viscose for a second Colette Wren (assuming the toile and the first go to plan). What I discovered when I made it to Tomato was that this was surely the best stocked fabric store I have ever been inside! (n.b. I haven’t yet been to Mood NYC, but one day…).
Check out these gorgeous plaids! I stupidly didn’t buy any despite visiting them three times and now I’m consumed with shopper’s remorse. What was I thinking?? I even thought about going back for a second visit but I ran out of time! I’m on the verge of purchasing some online from the UK to make up for it. I am obsessing over Fancy Tiger Crafts’ Grainline Alder/Archer shirt dress for next winter!
I saw these gorgeous Japanese sewing patterns. Why does everything look so much more stylish in Japanese?
I love a stripe, but even I was dumbfounded by the selection in Tomato. These were just the cotton jersey fabrics. I succumbed to a black and white version to make my Christmas pressie Tilly Agnes. I had made a list of projects and requirements before I went just in case the selection sent me into choice-overload. I’m pleased to report that I stuck to it. I didn’t buy any cutesy Japanese prints that I probably wouldn’t wear, and I did buy mainly knits which I find really hard to come by.
So here are the spoils: some French Terry in red and jade for some seasonal Bluegingerdoll Bonnies, black cotton/viscose, a tartan plaid for a Christmas Anna for next year, and some Sevenberry blue dotty cotton. The last two were from the 100¥ wall at Tomato, so a whopping 55p per metre! If I could only shop at Tomato once every couple of years I’d never need to go elsewhere. Ah, Japan. When can I return?