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TOKYO | When I travel and do some shopping I like to go local. I enjoy going back home with a couple of bargains from local fashion brands and designers and some hand made accessories or other handicrafts to decorate the house. However, in countries where they have a special tradition of manufacturing certain types of fabrics or patterns, I always allow my self a few hours to hunt some little treasures for future DIY projects. So with the beautiful and original patterns typical of traditional Japanese fabrics, I couldn’t leave Tokyo without first visiting Nippori Fabric Town. I read about Nippori Fabric Town in several blogs and guidebooks and, to be frank, the place is much better than I had imagined. It is located in a very quiet neighborhood, in the northeast of Tokyo, with low rise buildings and cozy two storey houses. It’s also very easy to reach by Tokyo’s JR Yamanote line. And it can be a very good morning activity as an alternative to the buzzing and exciting streets of Shinjuku, Harajuku or Akihabara. Most of the shops are located along the main street, Nippori Chuo dori. Some of them specialize in a particular type of fabric silk, leather, linen, cotton, wool, kimono fabrics and so on. Expect to generally find an overwhelming stock of different colors and patterns. If you are more into walking around and let your impulses tell you what to lay your hands on, best option are those stores that sell a bit of everything. Some shops also cater kimono belts of different qualities (and prices), which are nice to be used for some handicrafts or even transform them into original purses. Tomato is one of the most popular shops in the district. It has four branches each of them carrying a slightly different selection of fabrics. Good thing about buying at Tomato is that they gave good bargains and remnants! and the offer is quite big. For instance, I was looking for cotton fabrics with Japanese patterns to make a couple of skirts for summer. And only at Tomato I spend so much time going through their generous racks of Japanese fabrics that I completely lost track of time. The blog Tokyo Craft Guide has a comprehensive shopping guide of Nippori Fabric Town. From there you can also download an English version of the map of the district, which lists 85 shops (allow yourself time to wonder around). Photos by EARTH TO IRIS.  

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