Fabric Shopping in Nagasaki: Gorgeous cloth galore!

Fabric Shopping in Nagasaki: Gorgeous cloth galore!

After reading so many lovely posts on fabric shopping in Tokyo and Kyoto, but knowing I would probably not visit one of these two cities, I had some hopes for fabric shopping in Nagasaki.

Turns out fabric shopping in Nagasaki wasn’t that easy at first. It took me ages to find larger fabric shops. Once I found them, there was nothing that could stop me -and I post them all here so you don’t have to look for them.

I am a hobby sewist and fairly good at assessing fabric and textiles for quality and value for money. So, read away, feel free to drop me a line of you have any question!

Good fabrics to buy in Japan

Before we go into details of fabric shopping in Nagasaki, let me say there are many types of lovely fabric to buy in Japan – especially if you love cotton and other natural fibres. All the famous brands, Kokka, Nani Iro, Echino, Liberty… are cotton or sometimes cotton-linen mix.

Japanese-print Cotton

So, let’s start on the most common fabric most of us lust after when going fabric shopping in Japan: Japanese print cotton! To be honest, even the reasonably priced cotton is so high in quality, and I believe most are made in Japan. The differences in prices between Japan and Europe are fairly large.

First of all, you get your traditional Japanese patterns. A common one is Asanoha (hemp leaves), resembling a six-pointed star, translates as “big and string”. Then, we get Yasaguri (Arrow feathers) , which is considered an auspicious pattern that has been around since the Edo period – a true classic, then. Another superb abstract pattern is Seigaiha (ocean wave) and the hexagonal kikko tortoisehell, representing longevity.

Asanoha, Yasagura and Sakura patterns on these chirimen pieces from Craft Heart Tokai

Then, we have karakusa (vine) which is a Chinese import and represents longevity, kanoko (fawn) which is traditionally tie-died and resembles a fawn’s fur spots, and mameshibori (pea tie dye) another tie dye pattern.

Karakusa pattern (with cats!) in a wild but cute Japanese pattern mix

Add to that anything that Japanese love – chrysanthemum flowers, cranes, cherry blossoms, Mt Fuji, fireworks, kawaii characters, cats, samurai… you name it, they have it.

Cotton is either plain substantial shirt weight or a thicker slightly textured cloth called Kasuri. For summer season, you’ll also see a lot of finely structured seersucker cotton.

Modern Prints in Cotton and Cotton/linen blends

Juxtaposed with all that colour and cuteness, you will increasingly find patterns that, although strong in colour, are reduced to just one of two colours and a larger, quite reduced print. The most well-known producer is Kokka, who produce different design lines such as Nani Iro or Echino.

In a way, they do resemble modernist 1960’s patterns, and I have often mixed them up with classic Marimekko patterns. Well-known examples are Kokka x Muddy Works “Anpan” or Kokka Echino “Bun” and “Tansan” patterns.

Some thicker cotton-linen pre-cut pieces in modern patterns – most are Kokka Echino

Usually, they are available in different weights and density but are most often a fairly substantial cotton poplin or cotton/linen mix as well as a standard “quilting weight” cotton.

Seasonal Fabrics

Japanese fabric stores also had some great “summer” fabrics when I visited in June. One I really loved was this fine seersucker-like cotton fabric in bright summery colours, with fireworks and hydrangea print. It’s cool and soft to touch and is used for pyjamas and casual summer clothing, as it is very cooling.

Fabric Shopping in Nagasaki
Japanese seersucker cotton from Nishizawa

Liberty Fabric

My all-time favourite fabric, Liberty Tana Lawn, has a large following in Japan, to the point that Liberty releases prints exclusive to Japan retail. Yep, that’s Liberty London! Sometimes it’s just specific colourways of classic patterns available in Japan only, but the most famous example is traditional print mixed with Hello Kitty…

I do love a Liberty fabric, but it is pricey in Japan, definitely pricier than the Goldhawk Road (London) outlet where I tend to buy Liberty fabric when I need some.

I noted that the classic Liberty-style pattern, William Morris, and other Art-Nouveau-inspired and whimsical floral patterns are super popular in Japan, too, and many fabrics in these English prints are available.

Chirimen Crepe

Chirimen is a unique Japanese fabric that feels crinkly to the touch and is traditionally made from silk. Its structure is owed by the twisting of the weft threads when weaving the fabric. It is very light to the touch and traps air, leaving skin warm in winter and cool in summer.

Nowadays most chirimen in regular stores is made from polyester, but it can still be quite pricey due to the traditional weaving technique. It is now mostly used for traditional hair accessories (kanzashi) and small ornaments or animals.

Fabric Shopping in Nagasaki – where to find good fabric shops

Really, I searched high and low for good fabric stores and even considered a trip to Fukuoka… I did find Nishizawa, a Sasebo-based fabric retailer on Google Maps, but the photographs showed some ratty-looking old suitcases. And sometimes, Google Maps can be very deceiving! It first led me to a Nishizawa store well outside Nagasaki, which unfortunately had already closed down.

So it wasn’t until my last ten days in Japan that I found the good fabric stores, which is probably for the better, but I still managed to haul half a suitcase full of material back with me.

Top Choice for Fabric Shopping in Nagasaki: Nishizawa Honten

It took me a while to find Nishizawa Honten. Almost until the end of my time in Nagasaki. Which may be for the better. Although in central Nagasaki, it is in a rather unsuspecting small street and has very little kerb appeal.

Nishizawa Honten, a great place for  Fabric Shopping in Nagasaki
The not very appealing looking Nishizawa Honten store in Nagasaki

Once you are inside, all that changes into fabric wonderland. The store goes deep into the building and onto multiple levels, but for all you fabric needs, you can stay on the ground floor and spend an hour or two there.

Fabric Shopping in Nagasaki
Nishizawa Honten: Not the loveliest presentation, but huge choice of fabrics and friendly staff

When I visited, they had a sale on, making my excitement even worse!

You can see some of the price tags in the photos, and if I remember right, prices were as follows: Some Kokka fabrics were between 600 and 800 JPY (3,50 to 5 Euro) per metre. For the iconic Echino prints, I paid full price, about 1400-1600 JPY (about 9 Euro) per metre.

Thick printed crepe – this one’s actually 100% polyester

A lot of no name cute Japanese prints were about 350 JPY (2 Euro) a piece, and measured about half a metre.

Hundreds of pre-cut pieces of Japanese printed cotton are available

Although the presentation isn’t amazing, I felt very welcome – but somewhat overwhelmed – in there. The shop floor is pretty large, and the store has five or six floors. Presentation of the fabrics is very perfunctory and mildly reminiscent of 1980’s Eastern Germany.

Fabric Shopping in Nagasaki
Stacks of pre-cut (1-2m) of fabric at Nishizawa Honten

But I was so blinkered by the wire baskets of fabrics, I could not care less. Of course, you will look in vain for anything in English. The fibre content labels are easy to translate using an app, though. and staff, although they didn’t really speak English, could tell me the fibre content, as Cotton, Polyester, Linen and Silk are “borrowed words” and sound very similar in Japanese.

Traditional Japanese print? Nishizawa has them, at great prices

The address of Nishizawa Honten in Nagasaki is 5-36 Yorozuyamachi, Nagasaki, 850-0852, Japan. It is about 100m from Hamamachi Cross just outside the shopping arcade – or look for the well-known bar Panic Paradise, it is right next to it.

Credit cards were accepted. Staff didn’t speak English but were super friendly. The Japanese store name is 西沢本店 長崎店. They also have a website (https://www.nishizawahonten.jp) which really isn’t representative of this great store. The store in Ozonomachi suburb looked permanently closed when I went to check it out.

Runner-up on Fabric Shopping in Nagasaki: Craft Heart Tokai

Before I “discovered” Nishizawa, I trekked out to the suburbs to look for Japanese fabric only to find the store closed. On my return, I came across a bunker-like mall called Chitosepia Aeon Mall in Chitosemachi, which is quite a nice suburb with some good shops and restaurants – definitely nothing touristy about it.

Sevenberry Cotton from Craft Heart Tokai

The mall is pretty run-of-the mill, the basement supermarket was very nice, and Craft Heart is a relatively small section in the main mall. They are pretty good on general craft, embroidery, beading but have a relatively small fabric section.

Nagasaki fabric shopping
Cotton from Sou Sou, a Kyoto textile design company

They stocked some Kokka fabric, Sevenberry (another Japanese manufacturer), summer seersucker and some cotton/linen from Kyoto-based SouSou. Especially the SouSou I did not see anywhere else – it was a bit pricier than the rest, about 2000 JPY (12Euro) per metre but really lovely quality, suitable for more structured tops or dresses.

Chitosemachi is within easy reach from the centre on the No.1 or No.3 tram. It’s perhaps 10min from the Atomic Bomb memorials in Northern Nagasaki and 25 minutes from the centre. The mall is on the left, barely 50 metres from the tram stop Chitosemachi, and Craft Heart is on the third floor. It’s relatively small inside a department store. The Japanese name is クラフトハートトーカイイオンチトセピア店 if you want to search or ask someone.

Other notable textile stores

Well, I am afraid that’s all I can say about fabric shopping in Nagasaki, but with these two major stores, you will be able to shop to your hearts content for Japan-specific fabric at really decent prices.

I am including some other shops which have traditional quality textiles although they aren’t fabric shops per se.

100 yen shops – especially Seria

The 100 yen shops are where I got some of my best souvenirs from. Nagasaki mostly has CanDo, Daiso and Seria dotted across the city, usually in shopping malls.

All tend to have fabrics of some sorts, but Seria was by far the best for (small) pieces of fabric. I bought these 30x35cm cuts here for 100JPY each – which was 70 cents back in 2023.

Japanese-produced cotton from Seria

The most accessible and best for fabric was Seria in Mirai Cocowalk, which is perhaps the best shopping mall in Nagasaki. The Seria is on the 5th floor and a bit hidden.

Nakanoya / 中の家旗店, Ishimaru Bunkoudou / 石丸文行堂 本店 and other tenugui shops

The hot humid Nagasaki weather and not having tea towels for preparing food had me pick up a couple tenugui. Tenugui ar long, slim thin traditional cotton towels, at a 100 yen store, and they became one of my most loved and versatile souvenirs. You can use them as a scarf, tea towel, wrapping cloth, hand towel… traditionally they are used at the ryokan.

But then… the tenugui buying escalated really fast. They are quite a popular souvenir in Japan.

The quality ones are made from smooth soft cotton, my my cheap ones were more like a loose weave – have really withstood multiple launders.

My cheap tenugui came from a 100 yen store – CanDo, I think. Then I picked a few up at GLover Gardens, JR Nagasaki, in Shimabara and in Karatsu – most of the extra ones had cats on them that I could not resist.

My most expensive one is from Nijiyura, a traditional manufacturer from Sakai – I had to have it because of the beautiful elegant cat print.

My embarrassingly large tenugui collection – from 100 to 1200 JPY

You get the traditional tenugui with beautiful prints at Ishimaru Bunkoudou, a superb stationery store in Hamanomachi Arcade.

Bandanas and handkerchiefs from Ishimaru Bunkoudou, Muji and a small unnamed kimono shop

Another great shop round the corner is Nakanoya, with a selection that goes beyond tenugui and includes tote bags and furoshiki (wrapping cloths). The tenugui were so beautiful you want to hang them on a wall.

Small items from Nakanoya – the mini towels are Imabari towels from Loft

If you are in a hurry, the souvenir mall at JR Nagasaki and the souvenir store at the Museum of Performing Arts have some tasteful Nagasaki-themed ones in high quality cotton, too. Be prepared to pay 800-900 JPY for a nice tenugui, and of course, you can pick them up for 100 yen at the 100-yen store.

Siebold Street

There are two shops here that might interest textile lovers. While new kimono can be insanely expensive, there is a small shop at the eastern end of Siebold Street that has more workaday yukata and kimono, and a great range in accessories and furoshiki starting at 300JPY. Further west, towards the busier part of the street, is a small quilting shop with lovely selection of quilting cottons at relatively low prices.

Quilting cotton from Siebold Street

What I bought

Thinking this would be my only trip to Japan in years, and having paid about 20 to 25 Euro per metre of Kokka fabric back home, my fabric shopping in Nagasaki slightly escalated. I got a lot of Japanese prints, and Echino and Kokka fabric for clothing, all of which were somewhat more colourful than what I would normally wear on a daily basis.

Especially with the sale at Nishizawa, I walked past there on my last day, and simply couldn’t pass on more beautiful fabric, so I got loads of cuts on sale there – I will probably use them on accessories, tote bags, noren curtains, cushions – that sort of thing. Although I suspect a lot of them will stay in my stash and I just go and stroke them from time to time.

Just a little selection of my haul – I really went for strong colours

I also stocked up a great deal on “summery” fabrics, which is quite unusual for me, as I wear a lot of black and navy paired with beige – but I could not pass this superb quality lightweight cotton in the prettiest prints. As far as I can see, they are no name but feel really lovely.

This one’s interesting, it says “100% men” but is probably cotton

I must say, only on my first fabric shopping trip was I guided by sensibility – yes, a few cheap and cheerful Japanese print cotton squares and beautiful tenugui are fine, but otherwise I would stick to a fairly classic colour scheme. I bought softly draping cotton and seersucker in modern patterns from SouSou, intending to make two tops.

But then, once I had found the riot of colour and patterns in Nishizawa, I went a bit wild. How could I bypass Kokka Echino that cost less than half back home, and really high quality Kasuri cotton?

So, if you are a sewist, please visit Nagasaki! It’s not just all about fabric shopping in Nagasaki. I have a number of Nagasaki posts up, from a three-day itinerary, visiting the beautiful Teramachi-dori, an onsen post, and posts on nearby Arita and Imari. And there will be more coming.

Where to Stay

Nagasaki is full of hotels and inns, most belonging to local or national chains. The most convenient area to stay in is near the JR Nagasaki Station. If you love nightlife, Shinchi Chinatown is a good choice

The perfect balance of all is the lovely residential area between the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture and the train station. Easy to walk, or two stops on the tram to the train station. This area, called Tamazonomachi is my favourite area of Nagasaki. You can walk to the station in 10 minutes, or go by tram (Sakuramachi) in 5 minutes, and it’s in a nice residential area.

Shindaikumachi and Sakurababa a bit further out are also really nice. Basically, anything on the No. 3 Tram between JR Train Station and Hotarujaya is good.

I will give you a few recommendations – most places I stayed in myself, some are places where classmates stayed, some I went to check out. It’s a rather small selection, tried and tested.

Grand Base Nagasaki City was my first “home away from home”. For comfort and Western Style, look no further. For less that 300 Euro per week, I got a spacious one-room apartment ( sleeping four) with kitchenette, a huge bathroom with a washing machine, all new, in a super quiet location yet only five minutes walk from the nearest tram stop.  The building is a new low-rise and has maybe 20 units.

Another of their hotels, Grand Base Nakamachi, is located even closer to the station and is very similar.

My next stop was the Relaxing Inn “Origami” (和みの宿 おりがみ) down the road from Grand Base. It is the choice for travellers who prefer a bit more “traditional Japanese style”. The inn is in a small modern building, with just a few rooms. The first floor has a small cafe and bar and some Western Style rooms, whereas the second floor has tatami rooms and it a lot more Japanese in character down to the corridor and huge family bath.

I stayed two weeks in this place. My room, a spacious tatami room, was very traditional Japanese -low tables and legless chairs and all. Sleeping on the tatami floor on a classic (thin!) futon set-up took a bit of adjustment. But for the authentic Japanese experience, it was well worth it. The room had a small fridge as well. The communal area has a huge bath, sinks, a microwave, kettles and water dispensers.

My room at the “Relaxing Inn Origami” – futon stowed away

Like all larger towns of Japan, Nagasaki has business hotels aplenty. I picked the SPeria Hotel Nagasaki for location and price (around 40 Euro per night) and was not disappointed. It is one of the typical Japanese convenient, lower priced business hotels. It is quite conveniently located 150 metres from a tram stop, 120 minutes walk from the train station and right by a main road. The area isn’t charming, but you are certainly very central, and one of my favourite restaurants (Hiroshimatei) and coffee shops (Kariomon) are literally next to the hotel. There’s three shopping malls in walking distance, and you can walk to almost all central Nagasaki sights from here.

The Small Print on fabric shopping in Nagasaki

I attended a course at Nagasaki University in 2023 and spent six weeks in Nagasaki. As always, I have no sponsorship, all expenses were paid by myself, all unbiased reviews. No affiliate links in this post. This blog is advertising-free. If you want to support me, please visit my other Nagasaki posts!

The prices given here are in Japanese Yen, and I converted them into Euro at the time I bought them (June 2023) when 1 Euro was worth about 145 Japanese Yen.

If you have any questions about Nagasaki or fabric shopping in Nagasaki, feel free to drop me a line or comment. I spent six week in Nagasaki so I know the city fairly well from a tourist point of view now.

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6 thoughts on “Fabric Shopping in Nagasaki: Gorgeous cloth galore!”

  • Ah! I love sewing! But I’ve never thought to seek out fabric shops on my travels. What a fun souvenir to pick up and to transform into a wonderful keepsake. It looks like Nagasaki has some beautiful fabrics to choose from!

  • I love Japanese prints and I remember buying so much (and also receiving so many tenugui haha) when I was living there! Thank you for this exhaustive guide!

    • Hi Marina, tenugui are addictive, aren’t they? I visited Kansai recently and while I certainly have enough tenugui… bought some more. My excuse is they are so versatile they really have so many uses. Do you have a favourite?

  • I would have shopping for fabric with cats! I love how the Japanese revere cats. Great post!

    • Hi Terri, thank you. Cat fabric, yes, that’s what I did, too… I am not going to use it for clothing, but I might make a little cat pillow, though our cats don’t care about cute. Definitely going to make Noren curtains for our porch when I’m not working or travelling or being exhausted from work…

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