This is the first of an occasional series where I will tell you about my favourite places in Tokyo. I'll start with Nippori in the East of the city.
As a lover of handicrafts and sewing, one place I always make sure to visit when I travel to Tokyo is Nippori, home to Nippori Seni-gai otherwise known as Fabric Town.
Nippori station is on the Yamanote subway line and it deposits you right in the middle to two wonderful areas to explore.
If you leave by the East Exit and follow the signs across the road you will find yourself at the bottom of Nippori Chuo Dori a street that is lined with fabric shops and vendors of every kind of related accessory, trim or sewing equipment that you can imagine. The whole area in fact is filled with textile and fashion companies, importers, exporters and workshops but almost all the public retail shops are along this main road.
If sewing and crafting is your thing then you really will be in heaven here and you can spend many happy hours browsing and marvelling at what’s on offer.
My greatest delight is rummaging through the boxes of off-cuts and bargain fat quarters. And I really have found some great bargains in the way of designer fabrics, traditional Japanese fabrics in silk and metallic threads as well as packs of ribbons, trims, buttons and other craft supplies.
Many specialist crafts are covered as well and you can find leather and suede (real and faux!), metal fixings, button making equipment, buckles and beads all in abundance.
Tomato is one of the biggest shops with at least four different stores dedicated to clothes fabrics, interior fabrics, haberdashery, accessories and sewing equipment. This tourist map shows you the location of the Fabric Town shops which can help if there’s something specific you’re looking for.
My tip is don’t arrive too early. The shops generally open late and many, especially the smaller ones, will only just be opening their doors at midday.
Once you have exhausted yourself with fabric shopping take yourself through the station to the West side where you will find the relaxing atmosphere of the Yanaka Cemetary and Yanaka Ginza shopping district.
The cemetery is an interesting place for a peaceful walk with a lot of greenery and shady places to sit. It makes a welcome break from the city, especially if the weather is hot. Being Japan, you won’t be far from a vending machine if you need a cold drink!
Close by is the Yanaka Ginza area which has a charming old town feel to it with old fashioned buildings, small shops and cafés. This is a great place for buying traditional Japanese items such as fans, tabi socks, lucky cats and other souvenirs.
If you’re a cat lover you can have fun spotting all the feline themed signs, ornaments and decorations in and around the shops and side streets and I’m pretty sure you’ll see a real one now and again lounging in the sun or guarding the entrance to some small establishment.
In this area you can also find Cherry Blossom Street, a lovely avenue lined with cherry trees which look beautiful in the spring and make you feel as if you are walking through a blizzard of cherry blossoms.
It’s not unusual at that time of year to see people dressed in traditional outfits viewing the cherry blossom, or sakura, and enjoying the warm spring weather. You’ll wish you’d brought your parasol!
Products Made with Fabric from Nippori