Finding Textiles in Kyoto and surrounds (updated 7/1/13)

Finding Textiles in Kyoto, Arimatsu, Osaka, Kurashiki

Sasayama (Near Osaka)
On my last trip in October 2013, a typhoon knocked out many of the rail lines for a day. My son and I took the only train which was still going that day. We got off in a place called Sasayama which is up in the hills. From the station catch a bus into Sasayama old town. You can get a map and instructions from the tourist information office in the station.

Half way down the main shopping street there is a large shop selling second hand kimono and boro bedding. There are lots of fabric scraps at much cheaper prices than I have seen in japan before. A large and very contented tabby cat sleeps on top if the biggest pile of indigo boro fabrics.

Recommended accommodation if you are traveling in a group or with your family.
We stayed in a Machiya. A townhouse. You can also rent a whole townhouse through the TripAdvisor website.
If you click on the blue words it takes you to the website for each  place. That is where you will find the address. The tourist information centre at Nishijin will help you find textile workshops and classes.

The Japanese Tourist information people have made this useful tour guide to textiles in Japan. Click here for the PDF

Flea markets
21st of each month - Toji Temple in the South of Kyoto on the 21st of every month
25th of each month - "Tenjin-san" is held at Kita no Tenmangu Shrine.
See the Japanese Visitor blog for more details.

I found it easy to get to the Toji temple flea market really early in the morning when I was staying at J Hoppers  backpackers in Kyoto.  Other than the market I really wouldn't recommend the backpackers as it is very cramped. It is cheap if you are traveling with teenage sons though.

This is the big Kyoto centre for textiles which the tourist information centre sends everyone to. You can  arrange to do a class. They also have kimono fashion shows at 2 pm each day i think. Best to check on their website by clicking on the word Nishijin (the heading).

Aizenkobo Indigo 
Ask at the Tourist Info or at Nishijin for the instructions.  Lovely fabrics.

Kyoto Shibori Kogeikan
A small museum with amazing huge multicoloured shibori panels. Has small silk peices for sale as well as scarves and kimono lengths. Video is in japanese but easy to follow the steps. I think you can arrange to do classes with them but would need to sort this in advance.

This group of shops sells clothing items based on traditional Japanese crafts. They sell the most bizarre sneakers which have split toes.

From Kyoto you can get to Nagoya and from there to Arimatsu to see the shibori museum.

Click the word above to take you to the website for the Arimatsu Shibori museum which does workshops. The website is in English. To get to the shibori area cross the railway and turn pretty much straight left into a really old looking street. If you find yourself climbing up hill you have gone too far.

Osaka - Museum of Ethnology
I haven't had a lot of time to explore Osaka itself for fabrics but really enjoyed the Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) which has loads of lovely costumes and textiles and a great gallery which has temporary exhibitions, often textiles. You have to walk through the park to get there, which is lovely. Go to their website by clicking on the blue writing and then click access on their web page to find public transport to get to the Museum.

Kurashiki is worth a day trip from Osaka, Kyoto or Hiroshima.
There is a covered shopping street which has 5 shops which sell hand dyed clothes which I really like and which fit me :-)
It also has lots of lovely canals, cherry blossom, galleries, shopping, pretty stuff. I go there every trip as it is a favourite. From the station front entrance - go to your left, cross the road via the pedestrian over bridge, turn left and the entrance to the shopping street is on your right not far away. There is a quilting shop in that covered street too. At the end of the covered street turn right and you get to the old area of town.

Here is Robyn Burch's blog which also discusses Kurashiki

Kawashima Textile School
This is a school for weavers. Very fine kimono fabrics.

1 comment:

  1. If you are interested in antique/used textiles in Japan (kimono, obi, etc.), locate the "Shrine Sales". These are big flea markets held (usually) monthly at different shrines.

    When I lived there (late 1990's) there was a big one near Osaka on the 21st of each month and in Kyoto on the 25th. Smaller shrines have smaller sales.

    These sales also include vendors with virtually everything - china, electrical supplies, plumbing supplies, books, cones of thread, the products run the gamut.

    To barter on prices, take along a calculator. Ask the price (phonetic: "E kura des ka") and hand over the calculator; if you don't want to pay the price, enter a counter offer into the calc. Etc.

    One caveat: they have the most amazing red silks, but the dye in them is very unstable. A tiny bit of water will make them run like blood from an artery!