I feel so lucky and grateful to have visited Japan two years in a row. While the trips were very different, I absolutely had to visit Nippori Textile Town in the north of Tokyo both times. I have discussed Nippori in a previous post, but this visit, I felt more confident in navigating the neighborhood.
In 2018, in my wild excitement to go fabric shopping, I did it at the beginning of our 16 day trip across the north of Japan…which meant I was dragging heavy fabric around with me the rest of the trip. I wised up, and went to Nippori on the second to last day of our trip this time around. I also brought an empty duffle bag, because I don’t think we will visit Japan in 2020, so I needed to get enough to tide myself over!
When you arrive in Nippori, you can follow signs to the main drag, Nippori Chuo Dori. From there, you can just pop into any shop that catches your eye. Most shops have free maps available at the register, and I recommend picking one up - not just to help you find your way around, but so you can remember where you went later. There are so many great ones, some stores specializing in quilting fabric, notions, trims, etc., and some are more general and have a bit of everything.
Without question, you cannot miss Tomato! It’s pronounced Toe-MAH-toe, which I’m telling you because if you say Toe-MAY-toe, people will be like, huh?? OH! Do you mean Toe-MAH-toe? There are FIVE locations, and each one is different. And don’t worry, I bought something at (almost) every one!!
Tomato (Select-Kan) is my favorite of the locations, and it is the first one you will see as you make your way through Nippori. This is a smaller, 2 story shop, and is the “fancy” location. That said, the price points are not really higher than the other shops, nor are all the fabrics exclusive to this location. But this store is less crowded and has a more chill vibe. I think this store is more curated than the other Tomato’s, and it features a lot of Made in Japan fabrics, including gorgeous hand dyed and resist printed indigo fabrics. On both visits, I found most of my favorite fabrics at this location. There is also a trim section at this location, with quite a few lacey and embroidered trims.
As you make your way further down the street, you will find Tomato (Notions-Kan). This shop is crowded and tightly packed, but it is worth getting in there! They have threads, trims, elastics, beads, trims, threads, sewing patterns….all the goodies! I bought the finest glass head pins I’ve ever owned, and a Clover adjustable tracing wheel.
Right next door is Tomato (Arch-Kan). This is a bigger store with a sunken back room section. There is a selection of fabrics for ¥100/meter (thats about .89 USD per meter!). There is also a good selection of Indonesian batiks and block prints, imported ikats, and African Dutch wax print fabrics - which I can find super easily here in Brooklyn, but seem like a specialty fabric in Japan.
Next door to that shop, is Mecca: Tomato (Main Shop). The ground floor is more of that ¥100/meter fabric, tons of fabrics under ¥600/meter (most of them Made in Japan), as well as remnants. And you’re just getting started, because there are 5 stories of this store! I recommend starting at the top, and working your way down. As you shop on each floor, you have your fabric cut and pay for it before proceeding to the next level. Each floor is well organized and has a category: wools on one floor, knits only on one floor, cottons, including quilting cottons and pre quilted fabrics all on one floor.
And finally, the last in this chain of stores, across the street you will find Tomato (Interior-Kan) on the opposite side of the street. This is a more expensive shop, with an area for private consultations for selecting home fabrics (drapery, upholstery, etc.). I did not purchase anything here, but did use the restroom, which is cleverly hidden behind a wall of curtains!
This is by no means an exhaustive tour or Nippori - just a really brief review of the Tomato locations. I also love the Nagato shops (especially the main shop), Furikake (which is a rhinestone store, named after the delicious toppings you sprinkle on rice!), and Yamayo. Don’t be shy, go into as many stores as you have time for, but definitely don’t miss the main Tomato.
Leave me a comment here on the blog if you have any questions about fabric shopping in Japan, I’m happy to enable your fabric shopping ;) or answer and questions. XO