Jan 22, 2014

Tokyo's textile district... open and bustling

Score! Made it to Nippori Textile Town... aka fabric town. And it was open and hopping!

The area is actually Nippori Sen-I Gai, which translates as textile town or fabric street.  There's been lots written about this area. Here is a link to one of the sites I found most useful:

It has a map of the streets with the stores listed in English and also photos to help with directions for the short walk from Nippori Station.

Note to self though: while the map has the stores listed in English, most of the stores do not have signs in English. So if you are wanting a specific store, you should have two maps to find the name in Japanese.  The police station right outside Nippori Station also has maps of the street that they willingly share if you just stop and ask.

Tomato is one of the bigger shops here and it is easy to spot. But there are 3 or 4 Tomato locations/stores on the street, and only one has a lot of quilt fabric. Once you get inside, the signs are all Japanese - and this store is large, 4 or 5 stories. The staff are very helpful though, but bring your Google translator app on your smart phone to help you translate. There are lots of other options in the other smaller stores for quilters and anyone who loves fabric --- everything from fashion to home decorating.

For some reason, there's even this guy...  he's sitting out in front of one of the stores. To take your shopping to infinity and beyond... I guess!

Anyway, some of these stores cater to quilters and you'll find thousands of small pieces of material (not fat quarters, but similar in size) --- all affordable. There are so many choices it can be overwhelming. The stores have beautiful reproduction kimono fabric, stunning indigos and tons of cotton, lace, notions, etc. Even leather. And there are some stores with vintage kimonos. But the majority of these stores only sell one meter cuts, so its better to keep searching those stores that have smaller cuts so you can go home with more variety.

Here's one Tokyo travel story that may interest only me.

Even the most careful planning can be lost in translation! I've been reading about the struggle in the Nippori area to preserve the very last unobstructed view of Mt. Fuji from Tokyo.

Today, I rushed to this ordinary street - Fujimizaka - just before sunset to get in position to capture the perfect photos... but alas, I'm about one year too late! At least I think that's what the nice people that helped me said. Their sad faces were enough to confirm - they did not need a translation to know what I was searching for. In the end, the residents lost, real estate developers won. No more views of Mt. Fuji from inside the city. At least not from Nippori. There might still be others that I am not aware of, if you know of one, please send me a comment!

Tokyo Great International Quilt Festival starts today. I am off to the mega Tokyo Dome complex - this is the domed stadium where they play baseball. Somehow appropriate they share this facility, since baseball and quilting are both American imports!

More to come from quilt fest later.


  1. So enjoying hearing of your travels. And that's a great story about the loss of the mt Fiji view.

    1. Thanks for reading and sharing a comment Lori! This is the trip of a lifetime... and loving the Japanese quilt world.