Fabric Shops in Toyko
I’m so excited to share our very special guest post today by Aims of Indy Bindy Fabrics! Read on for her insightful virtual tour of Toyko fabric shopping….and more! Over to you, Aims!
Hello! I’m Aims, the owner of Indy Bindy Fabrics – an online fabric store specialising in Japanese independent designer fabrics!
The designers I stock are from all over Japan, from the mountains for Aichi Prefecture, seaside in the southern island of Kyushu, to the heart of Tokyo! I’m Australian but I have a longheld love of Japan and I started my shop when I was living in Tokyo and I can’t wait to share all of my tips for discovering Tokyo with you!
First a little on my fabrics. I personally know each of the indie designers in my shop. They are all true artists in their own right and I feel so honoured to be able to support them! Each has a unique aesthetic and process to produce their fabric.
Some, like Nocogou fabrics, are hand printed using traditional methods which creates a beautiful subtle texture on the fabric and means each piece is one of a kind! Otsukiyumi, Kanariya and Kayo Aoyama hand paint their designs in watercolour, gouache or incorporate the traditional art of paper cutting before digitally printing the end result to fabric in small local print houses.
Another designer, Mannine, has a signature style that is full of colour and quirk! She dives deep into the research process before creating each collection, including naming each character she brings to life (complete with family tree, personality and love connections!) and then digitally designs and prints her fabric.
I hope the fabrics in my store bring you as much joy as they do for me!
Tokyo Fabric Shopping
Now onto Tokyo!
Tokyo truly has something for everyone, but for us sewists – if you’re after some of the fabrics made by larger commercial companies you can’t go past Fabric Town. Yes, that’s right a whole area of Tokyo dedicated to fabric! Follow the signs from Nippori Station (JR train, Yamanote line) and it’s just a 6 minute walk. There are lots of options here which can get overwhelming so if you want to cut to the chase, head to the main building of Tomato.
While you’re in this part of Tokyo, you could take a stroll over to Yanaka Ginza, an old Tokyo shopping street full of charm. But who am I kidding, you’ll be exhausted from all your fabric shopping and want to get back to your hotel ASAP to go over your haul.
Hot tip: If you buy too much to handle, you can ask some of the shops to send it to your hotel so you don’t have to lug it back!
Arts and Crafts
If you are into other art supplies, you can’t go past Sekaido in Shinjuku. Think multiple floors of paints, pens, stationary and just about anything you can think of!
To do a bit of thrifting, Shimokitazawa is where you want to head. This is a trendy Tokyo subculture haven! It is known for it’s excellent selection of vintage, second hand, interior shops and cafes – what a combination!
For a view over all of Tokyo, skip Tokyo Tower and the Sky Tree and go straight to the Roppoingi Hills Rooftop Observation Sky Deck. On a clear day you can even see Mount Fuji (you can juuuust make it out in this pic).
Places to eat & drink
If you’re a coffee lover like me, my all time favourite coffee shop is Nem Coffee and Espresso. It’s a tiny shop with delicious coffee and a small but delicious menu. It’s run by a young husband and wife team who live above the shop and are super warm and friendly.
I love good food and I have waaaayyy to many recommendations to put them all here so reach out if you want the full list! But here are some highlights.
When it comes to ramen, Afuri is my go-to. Order the Yuzu Shio Ramen with the hand made noodles. This is a pay-at-the-ticket-machine beforehand situation but if you’re having trouble the staff will happily help you out.
If you want to go a little fancier with your ramen, You’ll find Kagari in the back streets of Ginza. Go for the creamy chicken truffle ramen – my mouth is watering just thinking of it!
Also in Ginza you’ll find lots of options for sushi. I’m talking proper raw fish deliciousness. Kyubei is one that I loved. Hot tip: go for lunch as it will likely be half the price for the same taste sensation.
For a casual but atmospheric and tasty meal Nakame no Teppen in the popular suburb of Meguro is a great one to try lots of different sharing plates.
One stop on the subway will get you to Ebisu Yokocho. This is an indoor food/drinking hall of sorts that is crammed with different stalls to find a seat at before moving onto another. People here are usually up for a chat so it’s a good way to get to know some locals – and possibly end up at karaoke together afterwards!
If you’re looking for an intimate cocktail, what the locals know as Library Bar is hard to beat. It’s actually called THESE. They have a giant bowl of fresh, in season produce you can choose from to pair with your spirit of choice. The staff are very helpful with suggestions if you just can’t pick too!
Ok, two more and then I’ll stop!
For live music, Haisai Jr. is a little known grungy gem. You’ll feel like you’re in the wrong place but find the tucked away elevator, go up to the 5th floor and you’ll find a tiny bar with a full live band – usually playing rock classics but they’ll take requests and happily have you join them if you can hold a tune or play the drums…
Finally, if you want to feel like you’re in a Japanese game show. Book in for dinner at Kagaya. Only do this if you’re ok with some crude humour and don’t research too much about it as it will ruin the fun. Also, the food isn’t great so order the cheapest set and plan to grab a bite after – but you’re not there for the food, it’s all about the experience. That’s all I’m going to say 😉 Ps. This can be a little hard to find, it has a white sign with blue writing and a green frog above a doorway. You’ll have to go down some stairs to get to it.
Happy exploring, let me know how you go!
Thank you so much for this lovely tour, Aims! Now I’m hungry 🙂 but also have a new perspective on Toyko and more context into your amazing artisans and their fabrics!
Interested in taking us on a virtual fabric shopping day in your favorite city? Reach out – I’d love to hear from you!
Wishing you a great day!
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