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Buying Guide

Guide to shopping online and offline for Japanese Sewing Books and Fabrics

Buying Guide Japanese Fabrics

Directions to nani IRO Atelier

July 11, 2013

While the memory is still fresh in my mind, I thought it would be useful to jot down the directions to the nani IRO Atelier in Osaka. Some of you who might be heading to Osaka for a holiday might find it useful if you are going fabric shopping. It is definitely worth a visit if you are a big fan, because not only do they have the latest fabrics, there are also fabrics archived from the past seaons. There are limited prints and mostly pre-cut fabrics. There are also ready made Zakka goods (SUMAU nani IRO range) available for sale. In any case, if you are a fan, you will love it!

Before I left, I saved a copy of the map from their official site on my phone, but I still got lost. I think the main reason is because there were too many lines and road names and not many landmarks on the map itself. So I decided to create my own (at the bottom of the page) where you only need to know the major road to follow, and the landmarks to guide you along the way.

First of all, take the subway to the 肥後橋 (Higobashi) station. Here I am taking it from Namba station.

Click on image to view larger picture (picture from Google Maps street view)

Once you get to the station, follow the directions in the station, and look for Exit 7. You will emerge from the underground subway station via this stairs, landing right outside this shop called Aoki Men’s Plaza (see the blue sign in the picture above?) which sells Menswear. Walk in the direction of the green arrow in the picture. You will cross junction #1 after the green arrow.

Click on image to view larger picture (picture from Google Maps street view)

At the next block, you will see a Japan Post Office (Orange sign). Keep walking along the main road in the direction shown above. Walk past the Japan Post Office and you will cross junction #2 (see the crossing in the picture?)

Click on image to view larger picture (picture from Google Maps street view)

Just before the next junction (#3), you will see this brown building with a blue signboard. The name of the building is way up on the top, so I didn’t see it at first. And the alley didn’t look quite right, as there were no visible shops from the main road. But this is the right turning, so turn into the alley and walk straight ahead.

Click on image to view larger picture (picture from Google Maps street view)

You will pass by a open air public carpark on the left. Keep walking down the alley.

Click on image to view larger picture (picture from Google Maps street view)

At the next block you should see a courier service office (with the blue sign) on the left. This is were I asked for directions because I just wasn’t sure I was on the right track. But it is the right way, so keep walking. You will need to cross another junction after this block with the courier office.

Click on image to view larger picture (picture from Google Maps street view)

After crossing the junction, you should see quite a large neighbourhood park on the right. On the left there is a row of low buildings.

The white one! The name of the building is 壽会館ビル – which you see in gold words. Atelier to nani IRO is on the second floor. See the flag hanging from the window? I almost missed it because there were some trucks parked in the building before it. Anyway, enter the building and you will see a steep flight of stairs on the left. Take the stairs to get to the second floor. and there you are!

No photos allowed in the store, so this was the first photo I snapped on my mobile after shopping. It’s a big bag. And they wrapped it in plastic carefully because it was raining.

Back in the hotel, admiring my purchases, wishing I bought more 🙂

Carefully wrapped presents for two very lucky friends.

Click on image to view larger picture

Here is the simplified map. One thing to note, the instructions on the official site said to get out at Exit 8, but Exit 7 is actually nearer.

Photo credits : Many of the street view photos are taken from Google Maps and I added further directions. It was raining cats and dogs on the day I went, so it was impossible to take any photos with my DSLR and hold an umbrella and find my way at the same time. The street view feature on Google Maps is quite amazing. you can try it for yourself and see.

View Larger Map

Buying Guide

Guide – Shopping for fabrics on Rakuten

April 15, 2013

Talk about procastination. After the flurry of requests last week about how to buy fabrics from Rakuten, I dug out this old draft that I started in February!

Before I begin, I must emphasize that this may not be the cheapest way to get the fabrics because of the additional shipping costs and administration fee incurred. If there are certain designers or fabric brands that are already being sold on online stores like Etsy, then it might be cheaper to purchase from them especially when the sellers are located in Japan (like how Miss Matatabi is my favourite source for nani IRO fabrics 🙂 . It will also be easier to communicate with them. I only purchase from Rakuten if it is a fabric I can’t find elsewhere, or sometimes if it’s on sale and makes it worthwhile to purchase despite the additional shipping fees. Like all online stores, there will be free shipping above a minimum order amount. So look out for the words 送料無料 which means free shipping.

This guide is for purchasing from Rakuten, because they have a global site in English, which makes it possible to get through the checkout without having to read through browser translated (read: incomprehensible) terms and conditions. Rakuten is basically an online marketplace like eBay or Amazon.  Some of the shops do ship internationally so that’s quite straightforward, but this guide is for those shops that only ship domestic and can be found only on the domestic Rakuten site.

Let’s start with the Rakuten Global Market home page. This is what you see when you go to the global site for the first time.


Just for experiment, let’s try searching for fabrics on the english site. If you search for fabrics on the global rakuten site in English, you will get very different results from the Japanese site.

I do get some results but quite limited and none of the usual fabrics I see on the Japanese site.

Searching for double gauze gives you this 🙂

Gauze for bandages!

 Even if I searched by the name of the fabric shop (trying with shugale which is the name of one of the fabric shops I know) which is in English, it returns no results.

If you can search in Japanese, you will find some results similar to the Japanese site, but if you can input in Japanese you probably won’t need this guide 😛

So what can we do? First, follow the links that I’ve included for the fabrics featured on my blog posts on Japanese fabrics (no I don’t get commission on that, but it’s just to help you get started on browsing the site without having to input the search terms in Japanese). You can also continue browsing within the shops as well as related item links on the site. You will notice the links bring you to the site which is based on Japanese for domestic customers. But the site is in Japanese and the checkout procedure is entirely in Japanese, not to mention most of them only ship domestic.

 Here’s the trick. After browsing the item on the Japanese site, open up a new browser window (using the same browser of course), and go to the global rakuten site –

 Now you will notice that above “Hot Products” there is a now a  new section called Recently Viewed Items. If you look under the “Recently Viewed Items” you will see the last item (or last few items) that you just looked at on the Japanese site. So this means that when you search in English, you can’t find the items, but since the database of items on Rakuten is connected to one single database, the last viewed items show up even on the English site.

Click on the thumbnail, and you will get to this page which is now in English. Now you have to select the color and quantity.

Choosing the color is straightforward enough, but what are the units? Most of the time I can guess by the price, but to be sure, scroll down to the bottom.

In this case, the fabric is sold in 1m units, so the price listed is for 1m of fabric, 115cm wide.

Note that this is not the standard, in fact you should always scroll down to check! For example, for this fabric from Yuwa, it can’t possibly be S$1.20 for 1m?

Scroll down and you will see. 1unit represents 10cm. And this particular shop also restricts 3m (30 units) for normal mail/postal delivery (the automatic translator translated mail to email but here it actually means normal mail/postal service) but there are no restrictions for courier delivery.

After sorting out the color and quantity, time to check out.

If the shop does not ship out of Japan, under shipping, select forwarding service.

The rest of the checking out is done under the global rakuten site in English which is pretty similar to most online shopping sites.

Just a quick note on the forwarding service. For those of you who have not used a forwarding service before, basically it is an office address that accepts parcels from online shops that only do domestic shipping, and for a fee they will collect and consolidate your parcels and then ship them to your international address. So the important thing you have to note is that when checking out,  billing address will be based on your credit card details for verification, but shipping address will be sent to the forwarding service address located in Japan. Once the office receives your package, they will email you and requests for payment (shipping + admin fee).

The shipping forwarding service that is promoted by Rakuten is Tenso has a very good guide in English which teaches you how to input the address correctly for the different online shopping sites. There are other alternatives available, which you may prefer, so I will not go into further details on how to use them. Unless you can’t figure them out, then you can always ask me here. I have made quite a number of purchases from various shops on Rakuten via this method. And I must highly recommend Tenso (no commission here too ;P ) because they are super fast, polite and efficient. I’ve bought cloth scissors, fabric, bento accessories, even ski suits and ski boots for my kids through Rakuten + Tenso! Love it! The actual shipping time varies, mostly dependent on the actual online shop. Most of my goods were despatched in 3 days except for one instance where the fabric shop stated that it will take 5-7 days to ship out, and so that was a little slower. Once it arrives and Tenso’s office the shipping notification is provided within a day and if you make payment quickly, you can get it in two days (at least that’s the speed it takes to get to Singapore).

I hope this was useful in helping you purchase the fabric of your dreams. If you have questions, just ask!

Buying Guide Japanese Fabrics

Fabric Shopping in Sapporo

December 17, 2012

My third trip to Sapporo and I think I should write about my favourite fabric shop in Sapporo.

The shop is called カナリヤKanariya. They have shops selling fabrics as well as ready made clothes. There are quite a number of branches but today I will be talking about their main store that is near Odori Park.

The Odori park station is just one stop after Sapporo station. Sapporo station is like the main interchange for trains, similar to what Shinjuku is in Tokyo. Sapporo station which is where you get off if you take the airport express from New Chitose airport, you will then need to get out of the JR train station (which is something like the intertown/city train network), and get into the local subway system.  Once you are at Sapporo station, you can either take the subway (1 stop to Odori Park) or walk the entire way (takes about 15mins) since the the two stations are connected underground. If  you choose to take the subway, you will still need to take a 10-15min walk to exit 36. Fortunately, this is entirely underground, so even in freezing weather it was perfectly easy. Exit 36 joins to the Kanariya building at its basement, so you can really get there without getting out of the station at all!

In warmer weather, the nearest station is actually the next stop called Susukino. The shop is a 10 minutes walk from the Susukino station if you don’t get distracted by other shops along the way. 🙂

Once you enter, it is like entering fabric heaven.

There are 5 whole floors of shopping in the building. From the basement to level 4. Each level is pretty big and so stuffed with goodies you will need to spend a long time shopping here! The basement houses some designer lines, like Green Gate and Nani Iro. The first two floors are mainly fabrics. Anything from interior, designer, organic, as well as the plain solids, checks, stripes, and even denim, jersey etc. There are also cute character fabrics, seasonal fabrics, suiting fabrics, all types of fabrics for bags, laminated or nylon fabrics, costume and dance fabrics. Literally, anything you need, or want, or didn’t even know existed.

The 3rd and 4th floors are devoted to machines, notions like ribbons, tapes, bag notions, interfacing felt, yarn, quilting fabrics + batting, fasteners, buttons, beads, stamping craft tools, stenciling, dressmaking tools etc. There are also bargain bins and craft books on every floor, and a corner where they conduct sewing lessons. When I was there they were having a bag making lesson. I was drawn to the samples of the clothes/bags samples that they hang everywhere, as an example of the end product. You can buy the fabric, notions as well as the patterns of the sample products from the store.

What I love about shopping here is how efficient everything is. The checkout was a breeze. There were a few cutting counters situated around each floor (for fabrics section) and you never have to queue for long. The staff in charge of cutting is fast and efficient but takes great care to cut the fabrics in straight lines. If it happens that he/she didn’t, she will measure the shorter portion (probably just a couple of cm off) and round down and asks you if the amount is alright, and charges you for the lesser amount.  The best part is, you don’t have to pay immediately, so you can go ahead and browse some more, looking for co-ordinating fabrics or notions to match your fabric. After cutting the fabrics, the staff writes down your purchases – length x unit price, and slips it in with the fabric. At the cashier, she just tallies the slips of paper and payment is done! No scanning of bar codes necessary.

There are a few branches situated all over Hokkaido. I visited another nearer to Sapporo station but it turned out to be just a corner in a mall, so the selection was much smaller. The main branch is really worth visiting if you every have the chance to visit Sapporo.

note : all pictures were taken from Kanariya’s website as I felt it was really rude to use my handphone camera in the store. Do check out their website for more pictures of their store! You will be amazed!

Basement –
First floor –
Second floor –
Third floor –
Fourth floor –

Buying Guide

Fabric and Book shopping in Singapore (and other cute Japanese stuff)

September 26, 2012

Instead of talking about fabrics today, I am writing an ad-hoc post on where to buy Japanese sewing books and fabric shopping in Singapore. I have been asked this quite a lot both on this blog and my other blog, so I thought I would use this chance to list down the places that I know, so that it may be useful for those of you either living here or if you are stopping by for a visit. I have listed the nearest MRT station to these places, because it is generally alot easier to get around on the MRT.

For Japanese sewing books

There are four branches of this giant chain of Japanese bookstores, but I highly recommend the one at Ngee Ann City (Orchard MRT Station) which is on the main Orchard Rd shopping belt. It is the most convenient for tourists especially if you are at Orchard Road for a day of shopping, plus it is huge and has a great selection of Japanese books. It is also the one I go to the most due to its location.

View Larger Map

The second one is the Liang Court branch (Clarke Quay) –

View Larger Map

located a bit further from the main stretch of shopping, this branch is a lot smaller in size but as this mall is frequented by lots of Japanese expatriates, the books here are usually available for browsing (i.e. not wrapped up in plastic) and there is also a good selection of Japanese books. Both of them have a stationery section that is run by NBC bookstore that may be a major source of distraction :P. Lots of cute characters from Sanrio, San-x, and even Shinzi Katoh. There is also a fabulous Japanese supermarket at the basement of Liang Court called Meidi-ya which sells alot of imported Japanese foods if you are looking for that too.

The other two branches are at Bugis and Jurong East (the new JEM mall). The Bugis one is quite small, and I haven’t been to the JEM one at all since it just opened and Jurong East is kind of too far out in the west for me (Yup it’s on the Western part of Singapore)

For Fabrics (both Japanese fabrics and other fabrics)

  • People’s Park at Chinatown– (right outside Chinatown MRT Station)

    image used with permission from Malin Textile's Facebook page

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