Wherever in the world I go, I absolutley must check out the fabric store. I always take a lot of notes, because every store is different. I haven’t seen a ton of foreign fabric store reviews online, but I always google “[name of city I am visiting] fabric store” before traveling anywhere, so I want to start sharing my reviews with you here. Toraya Shoten in Osaka is a unique shop, quite different from any other fabric shop I have visited, and I loved everything about it.
Toraya Shoten is located near not-to-be-missed Namba, so if you are visiting Osaka, you are likely to be near this store at some point, and it is worth taking some time to seek it out. The store spills out into a (pedestrian only) shopping street, and out front and in several stations inside the store there are remnants. Small cuts up to 2 meters or so of all kinds of fabrics are on display, priced individually.
The store has 3 floors, accessible only by stairs. Most “everyday” fabrics are on the ground floor. Things get fancier on the 2nd floor. 3rd floor is incredibly well stocked with all manner of haberdashery, notions, and patterns (garments, bags, baby, novelty items such as stuffed animals). If you want to buy something on the 3rd floor, you pay on that floor.
This store is set up unlike any other fabric store I have been to. All fabrics are displayed in neatly folded cuts, all colorways of each fabric/print displayed together which is great. The store is logically organized and densely merchandised! There are little signs everywhere telling you info about each fabric.
In addition to fabric store staples, they have wool knits, printed & solid linens, many velvets, a gingham selection that blew my mind (color and scale variety like whoa!), tons of pre-quilted fabric (seems very popular in Japan), the kind of bathrobe appropriate French terry you can never find in the USA (in a range of colors), lots of printed & solid chirimen (the crepe textured woven fabric often used in kimono and Japanese bags and crafts).
They have all those lovely “made in Japan” printed cottons and linens that you see sold online and in cool sewing shops in the USA, for about $5-8 per meter. They also have a lot of “made in Japan” fabrics that are....let’s say *very inspired by* Liberty and Marimekko. One thing to note is that most of the Made in Japan fabrics are around 42-44” in width, regardless of fiber content/weave.
When you want a fabric cut, find an employee (they won’t be far or hard to find). They will write you a ticket, and keep a carbon copy of it. They cut 2 small swatches of the fabric you want (1” square) and staple one to each ticket. Then you wait about 10 minutes. There is a desk at the front of the shop where the fabric is delivered via a tube...like the tubes they used to have at the drive up bank. You show your ticket and pay. With no bolts and no cutting table, the store is very tidy.
Overall, the fabric prices are great, lower than you would see for these fabrics in the USA (or at least in New York). The employees are very polite and helpful. They wait for you to request help. No one spoke English, but this was not an issue. Everything is clearly labeled with a price. When having elastic cut on the 3rd floor, there was some confusion about how much I wanted, but we sorted it out easily by looking at a meterstick together.
I usually prefer shopping on bolts, but I really liked this set up. It is visually overwhelming, because you can see everything at once - you may love or hate that. The store is on a small footprint, but they have fully maximized how much can be on display.
I went to this shop 3 times during our stay in Osaka, and on my final visit, I realized I was in love. It hits an ideal balance between thrill of the hunt/sense of discovery, and thinking “I want XXX” and then knowing exactly what colors are available. (Example: Solid color, bottom weight 100% cotton twill: once you decide on the fabric you like (there are a bunch), it will be available in approx 15 colors.)
If you happen to be traveling or shopping with someone who thinks fabric stores are a snooze, no problem! Toraya Shoten is surrounded by many totally unrelated shops, as well as many street food stalls, a specialty of Osaka. If you look closely at the above photo, you can spot the pork buns shop across the way. They’re delicious!
The top floor of the shop is haberdashery and trims. There is a large selection of iron on patches, bag making hardware and tools, sewing patterns, so many Clover brand notions, everything you need to complete pretty much any project. If this was my local shop, I would be very happy!
Let me know if you make it to Osaka, I think you will love this store. Happy shopping. XO