I know there are some people out there who will be visiting Tokyo and want to do some fabric shopping, so I'll do what I can to help you with your very own Tokyo fabric finding adventures! I'll mention straight up that, unless you have a map, it's very hard to find the shops you're after so I'll do my best to include maps and detailed directions. Tokyo is filled with so many flashing lights, crazy alley ways and unstructured road layouts that it makes it a bit hard to just turn up to a particular place and just "wing it". I tried that and failed, but having said that, we had way more fun getting lost in Tokyo and stumbled across other interesting shops in the most bizarre places. I'll run through my adventuers in chronological order.
ABC Craft - Shinjuku
ABC Craft is in the 3rd basement level of Mitsukoshi department store next to Shinjuku station (see map). Mitsukoshi Department store is listed as Building 57 on the Shinjuku map in my Japan - Lonley Planet 2005 edition. It's quite similar to Lincraft in Australia. They sold a limited range of cute, cotton Japanese fabrics - there wasn't a massive fabric section but they had all of my favourite stuff: cute frogs, pandas, bunnies, retro fairy tale prints, strawberries, Echino prints etc. This was more of a craft store than a fabric store, so if you're more of a craft person then I'd suggest checking it out. Just next to ABC craft is also a big kitchen supplies section of the department store and they have some very cool aprons, oven mitts and general utensils. Apparently there is a bigger, 4 floor store in Osaka. Even though this map is in Japanese it's easy enough to follow. The red block is Mitsukoshi Department store, and B3F just means Basement 3.
Daiso - Harajuku
This is Tokyo's largest 100 Yen Shop! It's 5 floors and you can pick up all sorts of crazy stuff so cheap. This isn't a fabric store, but I picked up some very cute hankies and little towels here (along with a heap of other stuff - little plates, bowls, shinkansen bandaids, fun sticky tapes etc). I spent ages here. A great place for buying little trinkets for friends too. It's just over the road from Harajuku station. This map is from Japan Guide. I've included the whole map because I recommend a visit to Kiddy Land while you're there.
Lucky Star - Meguro
It's about a 10 minute walk from Meguro station. A small shop but with quite a large range of quilting fabrics mostly, all sorts of prints from traditional to kids fabric. Lots of embellishments, motifs and cheap buttons too. Actually, this place was a highlight of my holiday - the couple who ran the store were so lovely and helpful even though we couldn't understand each other. They still used a cash register from 1917 -- and let us have a go! You'll see the fabrics out the front of the store. There's also a pottery place just up the road from this store where we picked up some great bowls.
I adapted this map from the Meguro Parasitological Museum map (I went there too - see earlier post. It was really cool!)
Okadaya fabric - Shinjuku
We stumbled across this place by accident while trying to look for shoes. It's literally across the road from Shinjuku station and has about 6 floors of all sorts of fabric. The bottom floor was where I did most of my shopping (cottons, linens and canvas) and picked up a stack of fabric that I had been thinking of buying on the internet for ages. I should mention that there are two stores: one on the corner of the lane (opposite the adult shop) and one down the lane (it has a bunch of fabric out the front). There are pictorial instructions on the Okadaya website, but here's my instructions to go with it:
- Take the EAST Exit at JR Shinjuku station (Yamanote Line). Go up the stairs. You will find yourself in front of a taxi rank looking out over a road with buildings on the other side.
- There is a lane (no cars) next to the Studio Alta screen. You should be able to see the Okadaya sign just behind it. Go down the lane. Okadaya Shop #1 about half way down the lane, opposite an adult shop. There will be beads, cottons etc on the bottom level.
- Okadaya Shop #2 is just a few doors down from Shop #1, down the side lane. You will see lots of fabric out the front of the shop.
Although I never made it there, Shinjuku is also the home of Tokyu Hands, which I have heard many many good things about, so you might as well go there while you're at it!
I tried on two occasions to find Marunan in Shibuya which is near Shibuya crossing. We hunted for ages trying to find it but totally failed. As I quickly discovered, Shibuya crossing is massive, and there are heaps of little alley ways right near it. I probably needed a map, and probably was within about 10 metres of it on several occasions!
I was hoping to visit Kinkado next to Ikebukuro Station (I was staying right near there) but after finding Okadaya I was feeling entirely satisfied with my purchases and didn't end up going.
There were a list of other places I wanted to visit but either couldn't find them or ran out of time. I was very happy with all of my fabric - I had particular prints that I was after and found them - but when I travel to Tokyo next time (oh yes, there will be a next time) I'll still have more places to go!
Some useful links that I referred to that may help you for your own Tokyo fabric adventure are: