It's time to share some insider information to the creative scene that is thriving in Tokyo. There are so many wonderful supply stores to visit, I've barely scratched the surface, but here's some top tips for anyone visiting Tokyo and looking for some of their famous kawaii supplies.
This is like a department store for crafters. The flagship store in Shibuya is 8 floors of overwhelming awesome. And I'm kind of lying, as each floor is split into an "a" and "b" level, so it's more like 16 floors.
Secret tip // the stairs have calories marked on them so you can see how many mochis you're burning off as you explore the store.
Inside Tokyu Hands, you'll find all manner of paper goods, art supplies, crafting equipment and more. There was a whole floor dedicated to woodworking, selling veneers, tools and logs. There's a wall containing one of the most impressive collections of washi tape I've seen to date. Other floors have more homewares, there's a tonne of amazing kitchen gadgets, beauty products and storage solutions. I was trapped gazing at the 'toy' section for a full hour, full of '4d' human anatomy models, puzzles and even scientific equipment like beakers and test tubes!
We visited Tokyu Hands in Shibuya and Shinjuku, but there are locations all over Japan.
Tokyu Hands Shibuya, 12-18 Udagawa-Cho, Shibuya-ku. Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exits 6, 7
Tokyu Hands Shinjuku, 2nd - 8th Floor of Takashimaya Times Square, 5-24-2 Sendagaya Shibuya-ku (it's technically located in Shibuya but called the Shinjuku branch as it's beside Shinjuku Station. To be honest Shinjuku Station is so large, it probably has it's own postcode). Shinjuku Station, South Exit
Tokyu Hands image via: Valerie-DBF
This craft and sewing supplies store is quite non-descript from the street. In fact, the ground floor contains beauty products and nail-art supplies (an amazing range), so you could be forgiven for missing it's greater offerings. Okadaya is a craft and sewing paradise. The main building is 5 floors, again split into half floors like Tokyu Hands.
Secret tip // There is an entire section dedicated to amazing, amazing wigs.
You can get all of your theatre and cosplay makeup supplies here. There is a floor for yarn, from all over the world. Patchwork supplies, fabrics and so many metal studs and buttons, you will feel dizzy looking at them all. Anything you need for costume making, dressmaking, knitting, felting, jewellery making, dressing up and probably a whole lot more can be found in this store. Their window displays on each landing between the floors contained amazing jewellery and leather masks that could be created using supplies purchased in-store. The clientele was mostly cute older ladies collecting knitting and quilting supplies and fashion design students.
In addition to this multi-level store, there is a fabric supply annex just around the corner (out the front door and to the left) where you can find all manner of dress-making and fabric supplies, including kimono fabric and other Japanese threads over several floors.
Okadaya is located in Shinjuku, opposite the East exit of the station (Kabuki-cho Exit), 3-23-17 Shinjuku-ku. Shinjuku Station East (Kabuki-cho) Exit.
Wrapple image via: Kochi Kochi Blog
If the name and logo aren't cute enough, this store is a wonder for anyone into stationary. In typical Japanese fashion, everything is perfectly organised and displayed, confronting you with a wondrous array of every kind of paper/wrapping option you could imagine. They even have a little craft corner set up where you can sit and work on your creations with other crafty types.
Secret Tip // This store had the widest range of Washi Tapes I have ever seen
If you need sticky dots, wax paper bags and paper supplies, this is the place to go.
Wrapple moved while Parco is being refurbished and is right by the side exit of Tokyu Hands in Shibuya now. Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exits 6, 7
This is a huge store covering all kinds of handmade supplies from sewing, knitting, calligraphy, jewellery supplies and a tonne more! I bought some cute iron-on transfers from here and some other bits and pieces.
Secret tip // if you have a Japanese address, you can get store membership for a discount
There was a huge range of super-cute Japanese print fabric, including lots of character prints like Hello Kitty and the like. This was the busiest store I visited and although I was quite taken by the huge liberty fabric range, there was no way I had time to line up to have any cut :( I'll have to go back!
EDIT: The Shinjuku branch of Yuzawaya has closed its doors as of November 2016. They have over 50 other locations throughout Japan, you can check their English website here.
I'd also like to point out some nearby department stores that might interest any crafty minds. In Shinjuku, there are three stores (that I have been to) for the 0101 Marui Department Stores.
Marui One 0101, which has Japanese street and 'young' fashion, so a bunch of Visual Kei, Lolita and all of the Japanese street fashion brands you've heard of (and less people than Harajuku!). They also have a Village Vanguard on the top floor, which contains a variety of novelties, souvenirs and homewares, as well as stationary and crafty kits (totally random selection, but always something awesome!)
Marui Honkan 0101 is just a little further down the street and had a few crafty and stationary supply stores, plus a really cute gift store on the ground floor, up the back.
Marui One 0101 is located 3-1-20, Shinjuku Dori, Shinjuku. Take the Shinjuku Station East Exit.
The department store "Loft" has an amazing array of stationary and crafty supplies, start on the basement floor and work your way up!
LOFT is located at 21-1 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya. Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exits 6,7
Takashimaya Times Square, aside from housing Tokyu Hands, has an annex which is a Kinokuniya bookstore. They have an entire floor (6f) of English language (and other foreign language) literature, including novels, magazines, craft books and cooking books (along with Japanese novels that you may not find in your own country, translated into English)
Takashimaya Times Square Annex. 5-24-2 Sendagaya Shibuya-ku, Shinjuku Station, South Exit
There is an older Kinokuniya branch, the head office, located on Shinjuku Dori. It's smaller, but also has a foreign language floor, and more. In the arcade running underneath, on street level, there are some nice little shops, including a great gemstone shop (jewellery makers?) and yet another stationary supplier.
Kinokuniya Head Office Branch, Shinjuku Dori, Shinjuku. Shinjuku Station East Exit.
Nippori Fabric Town is the place to go fabric shopping in Tokyo. I didn't make it there this time, but it's definitely on my to-do list for my next visit, and I've heard it should be on yours, too. The Tokyo Craft Guide folks have a detailed post including their favourite stores.
Nippori Station, South Exit (it's a whole area of fabric stores)
I am certain I have missed a whole bunch of amazing stores, but I hope this gives you some useful information as you find your way around the amazing Tokyo craft scene! You should probably check out the Tokyo Craft Guide, too. I haven't got a copy, so I'm not sure if my information is repeating some of the stores in their guide, but it will certainly be a more comprehensive guidebook for any serious crafters heading to Tokyo. If you have any favourites that you'd like to add to the list, please do! If you leave it in the comments below, everyone will be able to see your recommendations.
(A lot of stores have a strict no photography policy, so most pictures I took were sneaky, not brilliant, and only in stores that didn't have "no photography" signs. I hope I can communicate better next time so I can ask to take photos and explain why! - Thanks to Kochi Kochi blog and Valerie-DBF for sharing their photographic success in Wrapple and Tokyu Hands)