Featured in The Japan Issue (Issue #24 of CutOutandKeep.net’s online zine “Snippets) is my article Crafter’s Paradise, with a short list of some of the best craft stores in Japan, as well as mention of some interesting crafts unique to this country.
Thanks so much to Cat and the whole Cut Out + Keep team for including this!
P.S. It seems some of the links weren’t included in the article; you may be looking for the online shopping sites for Yuzawaya and Tokyu Hands; as well as the English Map to Nippori Fabric Town, which I’ve relinked.
P.P.S. Also, here are some Tips for Shopping at Craft Stores in Japan:
- GO EARLY. Most stores open around 10:00 AM (or even 11:00 AM!!), and get fairly crowded as schools let out in the afternoon. Aisles tend to be smaller, so sometimes fighting crowds in the late afternoon/early evening can prevent you finding some treasures.
- BRING A TAPE MEASURE. Japan uses the metric measuring system, so if you aren’t familiar with meters and centimeters, make sure you have converted your measurements to metric prior to going, or you bring a tape measure with you so you can estimate yardage better when buying fabric.
- KNOW THE LINGO. Finding someone who has the English vocabulary of crafting-specific terms and tools is like searching for a unicorn. If you don’t speak Japanese and don’t know the names of what you’re looking for, look up the words you need online before you go. I really like this online dictionary. (P.S. Even if you speak very, VERY good Japanese and you don’t know the term exactly and think you can go to the store and describe what you’re looking for and the sales staff will just fill-in-the-blank helpfully, think again. It’s a little strange, but most Japanese people are unable to supply the word in a guess-what-the-foreigner-means guessing game of words. And even if they know what you’re talking about, they’ll usually lead you to what you want in the store, never actually supplying the word you’re grasping for.)
- BRING A SAMPLE. If you’re looking for something similar to something you already have (say you want to replace a broken clasp on a necklace you have), and you don’t know the exact specifics of size/type of what you need, just bring it. The staff will usually be happy (and oftentimes, relieved) to help you find a replacement or duplicate if you have a visual sample with you. Also, the system for designating the size of headpins, eyepins, clasps etc. is completely different from that of the U.S., so bringing a sample will help avoid confusion.
- DON’T OPEN YOUR PURCHASE IN THE STORE. This is true at any store in Japan. Your bag will be taped shut at the top to prevent theft. The person at the register may ask you if you’d like to consolidate your shopping in one bag (if you are carrying a bag or two from another store), and place all your bags into a single large bag from their store, taping the top closed in the process. If you’re going to open it, wait until you’re outside the store; it’s just good manners.
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