There is a street called “Nippori Fabric Street” extending from the east exit of JR Nippori Station to the east direction over about 1Km. More than 80 shops line up and deal in fabrics on the both sides of the street. In prewar days, they used to handle leftover fabrics and waste pieces being cut off from the textile, which were released by major textile manufacturers or big wholesalers. Just after the war they were selling recycled fabrics by utilizing parachutes, sail-clothes and wool coats discharged by US occupation army.Nowadays almost all of shops have been fashionably renovated and they havebeen handling high-grade trendy as well as conventional fabrics.They are handling wider range of fabrics for Japanese and western style dresses, men’s and women’s wears, their related accessories and even leather goods.
In this fabric town, they are dealing in natural plant fibers such as cottons and hemps, animal fibers such as Silk, Wool, Alpaca, Angora, Cashmere, Mohair and etc., and also chemical fibers such as Rayon, Cupra, Polynosic, Acetate, Nylon, Polyethylene, Acryl, Polyvinyl Chloride, Polyurethane and etc. Numerous rolls of the fabrics are being stacked up on the display stands, reaching up to the ceiling of the shops. We can buy those fabrics by a meter (minimum sales unit). They are selling wide range of quality from high-grade article costing several thousands in Jp. Yen per meter as well as economical one with lower-priced, costing down to a hundred in Jp. Yen per meter.All of the shops in this area form a draper’s complex as a whole, like a department store that is specialized in dealing wide variety of the fabrics and their related articles. Fabric Town Nippori is a very unique spot which has been unparalleled with others across the country.
A fabric is woven with a number of threads which can be spun out of fibers of cotton, hemp, silk, wool or synthesis. The structure of fabric usually forms a plane by interlacing a number of threads crisscross in the simplest pattern at right angles to each other. Other structure of fabric can also be formed by knitting yarns and by pressing a bunch of fibers into a sheet. The knitting creates a spreading surface by lacing a line of yarn in a series of connected loops.The felt fabric is formed by pressing and rolling a bunch of wool or fur fibers through heat or chemical coating into a felt sheet. This is so called none-weaving fabric.
The basic ways of weaving are classified into plain, twill and satin weaves.The way of plain weaving interlaces lengthwise warp with crosswise weft at right angles to each other. The warp thread passes over and under weft thread by alternatively across the width of fabric. The woven patters are arranged symmetrically in right-left on the surface. This way of weaving produces strong, durable and wear resistant fabric.A typical style in the plain weaving, is Broad Cloth which has glossy finish and soft touching feeling. It is widely used for shirts. Its casual version is called “Oxford Cloth” with a coarse texture.
In the twill weaving, one warp thread crosses over 2 weft threads and then under one weft thread. This sequence of weavings is repeated over the width of the fabric. This is called 3-twill. Another sequence repeats the one warp thread crossing over 3 weft threads and then under one weft. This is called 4-twill. This interlacing of threads creates ribs diagonally running across on the surface of fabric. The weaving produces excellent expandability and wrinkle resistant fabric. Denim and Serge are representing the twill weaving. Denim is used for fabric of jeans and serge for school student’s uniform and working cloths.
In Satin weaving, one warp thread (or one weft thread) interlaces under 4 weft threads (or 4 waft threads) and then over one weft thread (or one warp. thread). This weaving sequence is repeated over the width of fabric.This way of weaving is named “Shusu-Ori” in Japanese. Either warp thread or weft thread comes out predominantly on the surface of fabric.This produces a fabric with soft and lustrous texture. It is less durable to rubbing. The fabric is mainly used for liner of coat and suit.
In addition, there is a unique and elaborate way of weaving which is named “Mojiri-Ori” or “Leno weaving” in English. The adjacent warp threads (Two or more) are twisted around consecutive weft thread. The adjacent warp threads are not parallel each other. This way of weaving results in creating share open clearances between warp threads for better ventilation. The leno weaving fabric is suitable for the material of summer wear. Leno weaving is also called gauze weave. Japanese traditional way of weavings such as “Sha”, “Ro” and “Ra” are said to be versions of the way of the leno weaving. They are very unique,delicate and elaborate weaving
Even if saying “Fabric” merely, it has broad and profound properties such as touching, designing, luster, durability, insulating and ventilation. There is a word “Fu-Ai” in Japanese that is expressing delicacy of fabric texture. “Fu-Ai” is meaning both visual impression and tactile impression of fabric surface.This fabric town attracts both professionals and amateurs who are related with apparel, furniture, ornament. accessories and etc. They will be able to touch the fabric and check its texture, weaving patters and color at any shop. This enable them to choose the best-fitting fabric to their objects.
In recent years, many amateur handicrafts lovers have gathered in this town, looking for a suitable material for their works in various fields of arts and crafts which are diversified widely into sewing, decorating, leather crafts, beadwork, knitting, dress making for cosplay, rag picture, rag fold-pinch craft(Traditional Tsumami Saiku), embroidering, doll-craft, crafts of tablecloth/tapestry/curtain, artificial flower holding and etc.Body wearing articles were spontaneously made out of necessity by utilizing available materials such as animal hide with fur, bark and leaves of plant and etc. in surrounding area. Later the fibers of animal fur and plant were spun into a yarn. The yarns were woven, netted, knitted or interlaced to form a fabric.It is said that the origin of fabric could be traced back to ancient Egypt and Babylonia (About 5,000B.C.) In that time, fabric was very costly and time-consuming products which could be used only for religious ritual and symbol of the status. In some period, the fabric was submitted as taxation.
Nowadays, a large variety of fabrics are produced with stable quality on a large scale thanks to high-speed textile machine and advances of textile chemistry. And in the course of the revolution of product distribution, most of the small-scale retailers are phasing out of the market except limited numbers of the specialty stores. The fabrics are mostly formed into clothing, furniture and other ornamental articles that are sold in department stores, large scale stores, mass retailers and even in supermarket.In addition, internet shopping is gradually becoming mainstream in textile market. Consumers easily access websites run by big e-commerce companies and choose their favorite article from virtual display of merchandise and buy them at relatively lower price online.
Under the circumstances, why do people gather into this fabric town?After all, it appears that a considerable number of consumers have a strong desire in their mind for their own original product (their uniquely crafted product) in reaction to the surfeit of standardized products in the market. Some people are hoping to sew a pouch or a blanket in their design by utilizing their favorite colored fabric. Some take out Kimono which has not been worn for long time and remake it into robe or tunic.Some mend to revive their old suits. Some make their original bracelets by weaving beads. Some try to lace table cross and to make dolls and artificial flowers to decorate their rooms. Teenagers make a dress for Cosplay to express themselves modeled after characters in Anime or comics. Young mothers might be badgered by their kids in kinder garden and elementary school to make their own cloth bag and pouch into which the kids put the indoor shoes or musical instruments or lunch box.These are all inspiring people’s creativity, so called D.I.Y..
We have recently observed a lot of overseas visitors in this area. They are coming from all over the world, say Europe, US, Asia, Russia, Mid-East, Oceania, South America and then Africa.Sometimes we are wondering why even foreigners find and come to this best-kept secret spot known among Japanese.There seem to be several reasons for this.This town is a very limited spot where we are able to choose our required fabric out of wider variety of stock and to buy it by a meter unit at relatively lower price.They are displaying a large variety of multicolored fabrics with diverse patterns. Among them, overseas visitors take an interest in Japanese traditional patterns with unique exotic atmosphere which are printed or hand-dyed or embroidered on the fabric.
They can get Japanese qualified fabric at lower price than their imported goods being imposed with large amount of duty. In addition, they can get it in a meter unit.They can freely enter the shop and easily take displayed fabric in their hands. This enables them to check texture visually and to feel its tactile property. And they will be able to obtain just their required length of the best-fitting fabric for their working object.The following stores are recommendable to drop by in this fabric town.Stores specialized in kids clothes.
They offer kids wears at incredible lower price.You can get each of them at the price less than 1,000 in Jp. Yen per meter.Jackets, pants, shirts, shoes, accessories and so on, are densely displayed inside the shop.
Imported hand-made kids and baby wears and their accessories.They are displaying very fashionable goods with refined taste.This shop is located about 500 meters away in north direction ofFabric Street.
“Edwin DENIM GALAXY”
Kids and babies Denim wears.A wide variety of LEVI’S jeans are handled as well as Edwin’s.It is the biggest jeans display floor.
They supply fabric, dresses, shoes and accessories specially for Cosplay.They respond to players’ requests about the costume on ready-made and tailor made. Cosplay is a coined word created by combining costume with play. It is a costumed role playing to represent a specific character casted in anime, cartoons, comic books, television series, and video games
They are handling fabrics of Liberty Prints which are delivered by the Liberty Studio in London. You can enjoy seeing their wide variety of brilliant colors and charming patters of flora and fauna in English garden. Some might invoke an image of “Peter Rabbit” of Juvenile book.”
“E & SON Décor”
Fabric for curtain, various tassels, fringes and rails imported from En
They are selling their original designed accessories such as earring, necklace, broach, hair barrette, bracelet and etc.in the range of price from 500 to 10,000 in Jp. Yen. The articles being decorated with beads and glasses might draw teenagers’ interest
They are handling wide variety of colorful threads which are made out of cotton, silk, linen and nylon. The threads are sorted out and displayed according to their usages for sewing machine and for hand sewing.
European vintage buttons, their original and designers’ designed buttons, colorful imported beads and parts for accessories. Buttons, Wappen (cloth emblem), Tyrolean Tapes (Embroidered Tapes) and woodblock print fabrics.
A tiny shop is displaying colorful felt miscellaneous goods such as porch, back, emblem and etc.You might be impressed by a richness of coloring being made on all the articles. Many handiwork lovers like to visit this shop.
They are a dealer of the fabrics used for “Kimono“ wear. Most of fabrics are depicted with colorful Japanese traditional patterns. These seem to attract overseas visitors’ interest, specially visitors from Myanmar. It is reported that they use the fabric for making their national dress named “Longyi”. The showy patterns being depicted on fabric might draw their special interest. The shop is always full of people from Myanmar. Now Mihama Cloth and their products are well known in Myanmar.The same style costume as “Longyi” have been seen in Indonesia,Bangladesh and India.
Specialty shops of button “Kumagai”
A button is normally used for a small fastener to join two of fabrics together. It is made of plastic or metal or glass or wood or seashell or seeds of palm tree. It is also applied for ornaments to be fitted on hair pin, braid, earing, bracelet, neckless, ring, brooches and others together with beads and tassels.They are handling buckles and hand sewing accessories as well as variety of buttons More than about 5,000 of newest and vintage buttons are being displayed in the shop. They are also handling cotton fabrics imported from USA and England. We can enjoy seeing comical and fancy characters being printed on the fabrics, like funny girls designed by Loralie Designs and adored rag doll named Raggedy Ann & Andy created by American writer Johnny Gruelle.
Tomato is the largest fabric dealer in this town who is operating 5 stores and selling a wide variety of fabrics and the related goods.Their main shop is a 5-story building.On the grand floor, they are selling various fabrics at incredible lower price. 100 in J Yen per Meter.On 2nd floor, fake fur, stretchable and enameled fabrics and etc. are sold.On 3rd floor, silk for bridal costume, wool and satin are displayed.On 4th floor, cotton, quilted and nylon clothes, denim and charactersprinted fabric are handled. On 5th floor, pieces of various textiles and metal elements for bags, sacks and clothes are exhibited.
In addition to the main building, they have a branch named “Tomato Select Annex” focused on the sales of high-end fabrics. Another branch named “Tomato Interior annex” is specialized in offering interior articles such as curtain, carpet, kitchen wears, tablecloth and so on.“Tomato notion” building is displaying materials and elements for handicraft. Finally, a branch called “Tomato Arch” Building is displayingprodigious quantity of fabric rolls on the floor spaces.
These branches located all adjacent to main building. Tomato had taken a proactive step towards establishing their original brand in 2016. They opened their designing department on the third floor of Tomato Arch Building and introduced Ink Jet Printing Machines whichenable them printing batch production. They usually outsource dyeing andhad to place an order for 3,000 meters at minimum unit to dyeing factory. Excessive amount of production causes dead stock and increases yield rate. The new machine can make them possible to print required number per meter in response to market demand. They can also produce sample piece on that printing machine for their sales promotion.I
They are dealing leathers for handcrafts, such as sheets of hides, their patches and scraps, the craft tools, bonding agents, leather oils, metal elements (concho button, fasteners, studs, rivets),zippers.The small shop is full of tanned and colored leather sheets.Those leathers are made from various kinds of animals, cow, horse, pig,deer, lamb, goat, lizard, crocodile (alligator, caiman), snake,kangaroo.ostrich, stingray and so on. Cow leathers are mainly used for craftworks.It is classified into calf, kip & steer by its age and sex. Among the displayed leathers, stingray skin and laser-printed leather might draw your immediate attention. The former features its strange granular pattern on its skin surface. And the latter shows mysterious moire pattern printed on the surface of the leather.This is a creation by laser waves interference in holographic technology.
Patch of fabric, tunic, blouse, scarf, buttons, purse, ring, earring, bracelet, bag and accessories. Calico cloth articles are designed by a Japanese female crafter and printed by Indian hand-print craftsman who is specialized in the traditional wood-block printing. They are using a coarse homespun cotton cloth called “KHADI”.These handmade works feature warm and tender atmosphere.
“YASUDA SHOTEN “(Branch located at 3-Chome)
They are specialized in handling the fabrics being consisted of natural fibers such as cotton. hemp, denim, double gauze and etc.Most volts of fabrics are gray fabrics before dyeing. Some of them are piece dyeing (fabric only with stripe or Gingham check patterns).They are displaying sample piece of hemp to show the wrinkle status of hemp fabric after washing
This shop is mainly handling cotton twill-woven fabrics such as Denim, Chino cloth and Katsuragi (Drill).Denim is well known fabric as the cloth for Jeans. Chino is cloth for pants. It is said that chino cloth was used for US military uniforms.Katsuragi (Drill) features its softness.
We have recently found quite a few overseas visitors in this fabric town “Nippori”. They appear to gather in search for the favorite fabric to make their ethnic costumes. Ladies from Myanmar buy and use the cloth for making Longyi which looks like long skirt. Ladies from Islamic countries buy fabric for sewing Hijab which is a headscarf. They might be enthralled by the variety of high qualified fabric with colorful design. And it is reported that Japanese polyester and rayon fabrics are now applied to material for making Arabic costume called white Kandurah.(Long robe).Because of the high quality of the products, those fabric occupied more than 40 percent share in the market and mainly favored by high end customers. It is surprising that Japanese textile has gradually fused into overseas ethnic apparel.