Tuesday, May 12, 2009

{ things I love about Japan #7.2 }


My hotel was in Shinjuku and very conveniently located between the hotel and the train station was the wonderful Okadaya. This is a great store for linen and cotton fabrics. They also stocked Echino. Okadaya has a number of floors (maybe 4?) but the more everyday fabrics on the upper levels weren’t of the ‘crafty’ nature I was after.

In front of the fabric store is another Okadaya and this one is about 5 or 6 floors high full of all different crafts - bag making, beads, buttons, embroidery, wool, etc. The top floor has a great collection of books and magazines. I remember spending the last hours of my previous trip pouring over the books here.

Through my research, I’d come to hear of Tomato and by all accounts this is a biggie! I suspect I picked the worst time to go - Saturday morning - as it was packed and took away from the enjoyment a bit for me unfortunately. I’ve read this store only takes cash so I came prepared in that regard.

One of the challenges/enjoyments of different cultures is working out the basics, like how do I buy this? I can help you here - at Tomato you have to pay on each floor and you queue first to have your fabric cut and then proceed to another queue for the cashier!

Tomato is about 5 floors high and every one of those floors is packed with fabric! Come prepared - I suggest trying a weekday, perhaps that would be quieter, and take snacks and water as you’ll probably be there ages!

Something I hadn’t seen elsewhere was the use of the same design but on different types of fabric. So you would buy the same design in normal cotton fabric, then on an upper level you’ll come across it in a laminated version (I guess you would use it for table cloths, bags, aprons, etc) and then on another rlevel it will be in the light weight fabric used for handy shopping bags that fold down small enough to sit at the bottom of you handbag for unexpected purchase (do you know the ones I mean?). Ingenious!

Tomato is in an area of Tokyo called Fabric Town and around are lots of other fabric stores but I didn’t get time for them this visit.

So to prices. I didn’t find much variation between stores or even between Tokyo and Kyoto. From this I think I did the right thing by just buying what I liked when I saw it and not running around trying find cheaper prices - too much stress, too time consuming and ultimately not worth it, in my opinion. Prices ranged from JPY380 per metre to JPY1365 for the fabrics I was buying which were cotton, or cotton/linen blends. The JPY1365 fabrics were the Echino and at the time that was approx AUD22 per metre (AUD1 = JPY62, unfortunately a bad time for the dollar against the Yen when we were there this trip).


OKADAYA, Shinjuku: Take the East exit of Shinjuku Station. As you exit you’ll see a massive TV screen on the Alta department store. Head to the left of this and then look down the first alley to your left and you’ll see the outside tables with discount fabrics. Head inside for more wonderful goodies!

TOMATO, Nippori: Take the Yamanote line to Nippori Station. From the platform follow the North Exit signs. At the gate you’ll then see signs for the East Exit, take this. Take the 3rd pedestrian crossing on your left and the street Nippori Chuo Dori will be on the left of the shop ahead of you. After about a block you’ll start to see banners for “’Fabric Town’ hanging from the light posts. Tomato is on the left hand side as you walk down this street.

1 comment: