If you get a chance to go to Japan definitely check out Nippori Textile & Fabric District. Here is some advice from my trips over the past couple of years.
The types of fabrics you’ll find here will depend on the time of year you travel to Japan. Going in summer allows you to find the most gorgeous dress fabrics and you can get some bargain buys less than 500 yen / meter ($6 AUS). The colder months will allow you to find lots of knits and jacket/suit types of material. The only problem with buying this material is that it’s quite thick, so you have to allow for extra baggage space or even organise to get it posted back. No matter what time of the year, there will always be incredible kids themed material, quilt material and Japanese fabrics.
How to ask for fabric in Japanese
1 meter please – ichi me-r taru onegaishimasu
2 meter please – ni me-r taru onegaishimasu
3 meter please – san me-r taru onegaishimasu
1- 10 (ichi, ni, san, yon, go, roku, nana, hachi, kyuu, gyu)
Meter – me-r taru
Please – onegashimasu
Thank you – Domo or domo arigato
No thank you – daijobu (this one comes in handy!)
Fabric Tomato has a couple of stores along this street, one of which has about 6-7 levels high so you’ll be sure to find a number of goodies here! However, there are a number of remnants, patterns, lace, Japanese kimono type stores along the way.
Recommendations on where to stay
If your making the trip to Tokyo for the first time and want to stay somewhere close to Nippori but also somewhere you can easily get around, I highly recommend staying in Ueno.
I stayed at Mitsui Garden Hotel, which had access to train stations and subway lines. It had English speaking staff for those who don’t speak Japanese. Ameyoko Markets are in all of the surrounding streets, so if you don’t have much planned you can head there for some shopping. You could spend an entire day at Ueno Park, which is ideal during cherry blossom season. In addition, the Skyliner Airport train is located directly across the street, which is the more expensive way to get to the airport but it will only take 35 minutes, compared to the JR Rail which takes over 1.5 hours.
I’ve always been a fan of Japanese fabrics so here are a few Japanese inspired quilts that I’ve made over the years from my trips to Japan.
The pattern for this quilt came from the Material Obsession by Sarah Fielke and Kathy Doughty book, found on page 112. This is a really beautiful book if you love quilting, I highly recommend taking a look. I have made some slight changes to the design, including the appliqued flower but otherwise it’s mostly all their design.
I would have to say the patterns in this book were amazing and easy to follow since this was my third major quilt. However, appliqueing the flowers onto the squares caused them to be slightly elongated and made me wonder how well the small squares would work, which were all along the outside of the quilt. To avoid making a big mess I just left those small 2″ x 2″ squares off and continued with the long strips around the outside.
You might be able to see in the close up pictures that the quilt it was finished using a
Babylock Sashiko Machine. This just makes the quilt look very traditional (hand quilted) and turned out amazing.
Japanese Panel Quilt
This quilt was one of my first quilts ever made which comprised of large panels and 2.5″ strips that connected them all together. Looking back it would be fairly easy to make but starting out in quilts this was the perfect project. You can find a number of these types of quilt patterns online, so I highly recommend starting a quilt suited to your skill level. As you can see no matter what the design they still turn out pretty good and they’re perfect for winter and as having extra blankets around the house!
I hope this helps if you’re planning your next trip to Japan!