You may remember our guest posts by Dianna Walla, Bristol Ivy, and Shannon Cook and Jane Richmond where they took us around their favourite places to eat, drink and of course knit! The Knitter’s City is back again and this time we are heading to Tokyo with founders of Temarious Naho Izumi and Rika Stein…
What do you imagine when you think of Tokyo? Skyscrapers, neon lights, technology, packed trains and the famously busy crossing in Shibuya with rushing people? Maybe you’d be right, if you view Tokyo as one thing. As locals we feel Tokyo is so massive, it is more like a cluster of cities rather than one metropolis. Areas such as Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinjuku are each the equivalent to one city in the UK.
To avoid the stress caused by hopping from city to city and to instead enjoy a nice relaxing crafty Sunday in Tokyo, we’re taking you through neighbourhoods Kichijoji and Nishi-ogikubo, both areas that are local yet diverse. They are easy to walk around and there are lots of unique events, shops and people to inspire your creative ideas. Kichijoji and Nishi-ogikubo are located next to each other in West Tokyo, 15 minutes from the major station Shinjyuku. Kichijyoji has a huge green park with a zoo and boating lake and, for fans of perhaps Japan’s most famous animator, Hayao Miyazaki, the Ghibli Museum.These areas have always attracted creative professionals to live and work here thanks to the open-minded friendly community. Today, the area has become melting pot of young and elderly, families, locals, foreigners and students.
You would instantly see what we mean, if you start your day with Harmonica Alley morning market (Hamonika Asaichi), located right in front of Kichijoji station. You can grab a breakfast there too from a variety of choices at reasonable prices. Don’t forget to check the Temaricious stand where you can find our selection of naturally dyed cotton threads and Temari balls!
Harmonica Alley historically started as a black market after WWII and it still has a particular atmosphere that is disappearing from modern days. The market was initiated by a shop owner many years ago and now there are over 90 stands participating.
After the market, let’s stroll around Kichijoji from Nakamichi street (Nakamitchi-dori) where you will first come across a specialist button shop. Though the shop is tiny, L-Musee offers tons of buttons from all over the world. Enjoy shopping as you don’t have to worry about these treats fitting in your suitcase! Oh, and don’t forget to visit a 100 yen shop before moving on. Natural Kitchen, though their stock is not just for the kitchen, but also for crafting. There are several chains of 100 yen shops in Tokyo and we’d recommend you take one in as they offer so many useful DIY materials for as little as 108 yen (about £1). Next stop, Puku-puku, an antique Japanese tableware which I was delighted to find as they stock many reasonably priced antiques. You’ll also find some lighter and less fragile Japaneseware for easier transportation back home.
After a quick look at antiques, here comes the renowned famous yarn shop Avril, where you can find so many different sorts of their original fancy yarns! The flood of colours and textures will make you smile and you won’t be able to resist it. You may even get a little overwhelmed (which we always do) by the variety and unique selection. The good news is that you can buy as little as 10g of each yarn and you can also pick & mix several yarns to create your own. The unique shop attracts not only knitters, but all sorts of crafters for making accessories and wrapping gifts. Take your time and follow your heart to pick the perfect one or more.
Just outside the Avril, a few steps away, there is lovely paper shop, Paper Message, where you can find bits and bobs and original paper products. You can find some great ideas of how to work with papers or to decorate presents.
By now you may be little tired with so much choice to pick from, so let’s take a break with healthy tofu doughnuts from Hara Doughnuts and a cup of coffee from Blackwell Coffee in the Inokashira Park. Blackwell coffee offers hand drip brew coffee made with coffee beans, hand roasted at the shop.
I first thought it was just another new café of this sort but after understanding the message on the wall ‘Hand–roast/drip–coffee–happiness’ this warmed my heart and became one of my favourite addresses. The owner believes the handmade coffee makes people happy.
Inokashira park is an important spot for residents of Kichijoji to relax, have Hanami parties when cherry flowers blossom in spring, and to enjoy a first date! Relax by the huge pond just like the locals. The view of paddling swan boats makes you wonder where you are but it is quirky and funny, yet somehow peaceful.
After a break at the park it is time for some more crafty contemplation. Have you heard of Saori weaving? Saori weaving encourages weavers to listen to themselves. JOTA is Saori weaving studio where you can try weaving a scarf. Again, you would be overwhelmed by so many colours of threads beautifully displayed on the shelf! Anything is possible with Saori, make holes, weave cotton or pieces of textile together to express your creativity. In under four hours, you will have your own unique scarf. Weave the memory of your Tokyo trip!
If you are in to sewing then Check & Stripe awaits you with their original fabrics and patterns. Then there is YUZAWAYA above the station, where you can be entertained forever. They are a crafty department store with all sorts of craft material and for knitters major Japanese yarns such as Noro, Pappy, Hamanaka, and Clover needles. For hard-core woolly folks, we have Ananda to present to you. They have all sorts of wools for spinning, dye and other craft items from India that fascinate their fans. Be sure to take a look at their collection of Indian Block Print fabric as they are so beautiful! You could also join one of their workshops that are taking place all the time.
Within a couple minutes walk from Ananda, you can have a Nepali curry at Sajiro café, owned by a handsome Nepali gentleman. The interior, designed by the owner and his architect wife, will inspire you and the Nepali curry will refuel you after a long, crafty day.
Now, you should head to Nishi-ogikubo to end your day. Nishi-ogikubo is the hot place for Tokyo people who know what is real and good in your life. There are lots of shops run by owners with excellent and unique taste in Nishi-ogikubo and these independent shops make the area special and cozy.
You can also find antique shops and several vintage kimono shops such as Grape or Pindot where you could pick up fabric for your sewing projects. For a sweet treat head to Maeuschen. It is so tiny (it is the tiniest shop I have ever seen), you would feel like visiting a shop for children. Nevertheless, the quality of their biscuits and cakes are just grand! On the 1st floor of the shop there is a little hidden room where we are hoping to give Temaricious workshop one day.
We recommend you end your day with dinner in Nishi-ogikubo. Although there are number of well-know restaurants, we would take you to have Yakitori at Ebisu where locals gather. Since it first opened 42 years ago it has been loved by a local yet diverse community. It’s reasonable, fun, friendly and the food is good. Enjoy a conversation with regular customers and find out more about Nishi-ogikubo and Kichijoji!
Temaricious love living in Kichijyoji and Nishiogikubo because the people of this area make it special. This village-like Tokyo town has many places to offer, from unique cafes where we can have our workshops to privately owned bakeries and patisseries.
Tokyo is exciting but hectic at the same time. The advantage of having a home in Tokyo is you can choose a cluster or area that most suits your taste. Blackwell Coffee’s wall says ‘Hand–roast/drip–coffee–happiness’. All the readers of Pom Pom Quarterly would understand this philosophy. And then, definitely can find the places with the philosophy–hand/work/happiness.
Hope to see you here and thank you for reading!
Love from Tokyo,
Thank you to the lovely ladies of Temaricious for giving us the insider’s guide to the beautiful city of Tokyo. If there are other cities and crafters you would like to hear from let us know in the comments!