Buying Guide

Buying Guide – Buying Japanese Fabrics from – Part 2

October 3, 2015

Today I will share with you, other shopping tips for Rakuten. I will also share with you some search terms you might need to get you started.


I think I have mentioned in my previous post, that some Rakuten shops ship worldwide. Unfortunately, the shipping fees are usually NOT calculated in the checkout process as it depends on the size of your order. I can’t say if that is the case for all items on Rakuten but at least for fabric shops this is the most common problem encountered when opting to ship international. They will usually email you after determining the shipping costs. You will need to confirm it before they will process your order.

Here’s how to filter out these shops that will deliver worldwide.



If you are opting for domestic shipping (like the method I used previously), look out for the free shipping requirement which differs for each shop.


The words to look out for “送料無料”. Within the same banner you will see the minimum amount required to qualify for free shipping. Sometimes it says 5000円 (where 円 is the Japanese word for Yen) and a 5400 in brackets which actually means 5400 after tax as Sales tax is 8%. This free shipping is only meant for domestic shipping. Other shipping charges are usually detailed under the Payment お支払い / Shipping page 送料. Sometimes there is a flat fee, and sometimes it is tiered so it really varies. 

I have also encountered a few shops that specify that they will NOT ship even to mailing agents. I had my order cancelled from one of these shops. You may not find this info on the homepage of the shop though, it is usually buried in the shipping conditions. This may be a little tricky to spot so it will be easier if you have the browser translator enabled. However, it is not that common, I have stumbled across 2 such shops while browsing through maybe at least 10 or more shops? If you are not sure, just go ahead and place your order, at the most you will get your order cancelled. You will probably be able to find the same fabric elsewhere though, since many of the shops carry the same items.


Search Terms

To help you get started on searching for fabrics, here are some keywords you can use.

Category Keywords to use in search(just cut and paste into search bar) Translation
Knits ニット生地プリントニット



フリース ニット生地


Knit fabric (any type of knit fabric)Print knits (with prints)

Plain knits (solid colors, no prints)

Rib knits

Fleece knits

Smooth knits (smooth knit fabric great for baby sewing projects)

Cotton fabric コットン 生地

無地コットン 生地

ガーゼ 生地

ダブルガーゼ 生地

プリントコットン 生地

綿麻 生地

Cotton fabric

Solids (no prints)

Cotton fabric

Gauze fabric

Double gauze fabric

Print Cotton fabric

Cotton Linen fabric

Linen リネン 生地


Linen fabric

Color linen fabric

Bag sewing ナイロン生地



キャンバス 生地

Nylon fabric

Laminate fabric

Waterproof fabric

Canvas fabric

Other keywords キャラクター生地







Character fabrics (All the cutesy character prints)

Polka Dotted Fabric

Check fabric

Striped fabric

Floral fabric

Border prints (stripes fabric)

Animal prints

Obviously, the list above is not exhaustive. It is meant to get you started on the search, and once you get to a fabric shop with that search keyword, you will notice that there are usually a lot of banners and links and categories to look through. Here’s when you go crazy browsing 🙂


Screenshot of banners from one of the Rakuten fabric shops. There are banners for the different fabric categories, as well as banners for types of prints, special sale events and featured fabrics.


The other way to browse fabrics of the same type is to look at the breadcrumb navigation. This shows you the different categories that this particular fabric is in. You will need to turn on your browser translator for this to make sense. From the above example, say you were shopping for Back to school sewing fabric and came across this Hello Kitty fabric, you  might want to look at other Girls fabric, or other Quilted fabrics. Just click on the links. Usually one fabric is listed under multiple categories.


Common Japanese Terms used to describe Fabric

Ok, you’ve found a fabric that you think you like, but how can you tell the thickness and softness of the fabric by looking at the picture? Here are the Japanese terms you will need to know.

生地のかたさ Hardness of Fabric 柔らかめ Soft / 普通  Normal / かため Stiff
生地の厚み Thickness of fabric 薄手 Thin / 中肉  Medium / 厚手 Thick

I hope this will make your shopping experience on Rakuten much easier! If you come across any other term you need help with that cannot be translated on the browser, as some shops do embed information in graphics rather than text, just take a screenshot of the term and email me. If you have any other search keywords or type of fabric you need translation help, check out my free Dictionary of Japanese Sewing Terms first, there is a longer list of translated fabric names on it. It’s not on the list? Leave a comment below and I’ll reply as soon as I can.

Have a great weekend and happy shopping! 🙂


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  • Reply Sewer October 4, 2015 at 3:01 am

    Thank you. The idea of ordering remains daunting, but you’ve provided a detailed toolkit.

  • Reply Mel October 20, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    I just placed my first order with them last month but used the English site which worked just fine. I queried with the shop the shipping cost to Australia before I purchased, and had an answer the same day. They also shipped the same day and I had the fabric here in 5 days. Fantastic! It was a lot cheaper than buying on Etsy and the variety was amazing!

  • Reply Buying Guide – Buying Japanese Fabrics from – Part 1 | Japanese Sewing, Pattern, Craft Books and Fabrics October 22, 2015 at 9:06 am

    […] Click here for Part 2 of Buying Fabrics from Rakuten […]

  • Reply Fendy December 9, 2016 at 7:28 pm


    is there a term i can use to search for swimsuit fabric ?


  • Reply Rokken March 15, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Hello, do you have any specific shops that you recommend on Rakuten?

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