Saturday, October 9, 2010

Japan souvenirs

I just returned from a vacation to Japan, spending 4 nights in Tokyo and 3 nights in Kyoto. I had a great time, even though I got bitten by a gazillion insects and the plane ride home was a breeding ground for respiratory infections because of all these passengers who were sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and phlegming (I don't think that's a verb). Of course, in addition to the sightseeing, I had to look for a few yarn shops and buy some souvenir yarn.

My first stop was at Okadaya in Tokyo. This is a seven story craft shop, with most of the 6th floor devoted to yarn and other knitting goodness. The address is 3-23-17 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, very near the train station. Thanks to pinku for posting a list of Tokyo shops back in 2006. Now, even though I had the address, it's still not easy to find it. Although I knew that the Tokyo address consists of the subareaNumber-blockNumber-buildingNumber, I did not know that the building numbers are not spatially ordered. I found out later that they are ordered by their construction dates. So, you sometimes have to walk around a block to find an address. Also, not all blocks have their numbers displayed anywhere, and many shops don't display their own addresses. After a while, I realized that for larger shops, it's easiest to just look upward for large signs instead of looking at doorways!

They have a large selection of Japanese and imported yarns. I just decided to focus on the Japanese brands.

I ended up purchasing 8 skeins of this really luxurious merino/alpaca/acrylic yarn. Don't you just love the phrasing on the label?

Next up was a trip to La Droguerie, which is a French craft store with several shops in Japan. The Tokyo address is 4-13-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, in the very chi-chi Omotesando shopping district. They have a smallish selection of pricey yarn, but tons of unique trims, beads, and buttons, also pricey.

I ended up buying some buttons and spent enough to receive a promotional giveaway bag. (Notice the Eiffel tower bead).

Now, on to Kyoto. While there, I decided to check out the Kyoto branch of La Droguerie. It's located on Kitiyama-dori, right across the street from the Kitiyama entrance to the wonderful Kyoto botanical garden, and we were going to visit the garden anyway. The merchandise seemed to be about the same as in the Tokyo store, although there might have been more yarn. I just bought a few not-very-exciting beads to hang on that safety-pin closure that I bought earlier.

Next was Avril, which is sold in New York as Habu Textiles. They are located in a restored building called the Sacra building in the center of the shopping zone, at the corner of Sanjo-dori and Tominokoji-dori. The shop space is like a huge loft, and they have an amazing collection of yarn, many with unusual textures and exotic fibers, and much of it costing more than I would ever spend on yarn.

However, even the priciest of shops has a sale basket, and in it I found this great textured wool/nylon yarn in fall colors. I bought 2 skeins.

In the same building as Avril is the Idola buttons and beads shop. It is smallish, but stocks a lot of very unusual buttons.

I ended up buying just two of these silvery buttons.

The amazing thing is -- I managed to pack all of this into my luggage!


Ellen Bloom said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip! LOVE the yarny photos!

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

I am totally so jealous!!!!! What a great trip and you found some amazing craft stores. I'm actually knitting my first Habu project - it's the Kusha Kusha scarf. I ordered a kit over the phone from their NY store.

Anonymous said...

I've heard about those Tokyo addresses. I am amazed you had the perseverance to hunt those stores down anyway. My husband got a real kick out of the "very softly" yarn label!