Blackcabbit's World

Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.

Adventure in Shinjuku – The Search for Art Books and Craft Materials

I have been staying in Chiba (Japan) for almost a year now. Chiba, unlike densely populated Tokyo, is a better-spaced & slower-paced prefecture. Here, I am blessed with several good stores where I occasionally go to indulge in my frenzy shopping spree for art/craft materials and books. Although quite a distance from home, these are the stores I usually frequent:

  • Yuzawaya (a major handicraft/hobby company) in Tsudanuma City & Kashiwa City.
  • Joyful Honda (DIY home center) in Inzai City, has a wonderful selection of art & craft goodies that slightly differs from Yuzawaya.
  • Even the fashion store like Sanki in Kashiwa City, has a good fabric & craft section.
  • Unidy (another DIY home center) in Matsudo City, has just started an art & craft section.

(See pictures of these Chiba’s stores in Flickr)

Though surrounded with fanciful art/craft materials and books, I started to miss the bookstores and libraries in Singapore. In Singapore (where I was for 26 years), English books are widely accessible and reasonably priced. Even the libraries have most of the latest titles in the market. So whenever I wanted to learn a new art subject, I had many great resources to help me gained better understanding on the subject before creating an artwork. Since my Japanese is rather pathetic, I was not able to fully utilize the huge collection of inspiring Japanese art/craft books available here.

As art/craft books in English are pretty much limited to only a few major bookstores in Tokyo, I decided to make a trip there. Despite the fact that Chiba is adjacent to Tokyo, I hardly step into the metropolis. Mostly because the Tokyo railway system is an overwhelming maze to me, and the transportation is costly. Especially from my place, I do not have any direct train.

For this trip, I chose to go to Shinjuku because Kinokuniya, a bookstore popular in Singapore, has two stores located there (main & south branch). Plus, there were a few other stores nearby that I was interested in as well. So I transferred trains, made my way to different platforms (i.e. Shin Keisei Line > JR Joban Line > TM Chiyoda Line > TM Marunouchi Line). Finally, took me almost one and a half hour just to get there.

Stores I visited in this sequence:


(1) Kinokuniya (Main Store) – Situated nearer to TM Marunouchi Line’s Shinjuku Sanchome; (Level 7). Though it is the main branch, I was rather disappointed that it carries very limited art and craft books in English. The handicraft section (categorized under “hobby) has only two shelfs!

(2) Junkudo – Situated in the Shinjuku Mitsukoshi Alcot building (Level 8). Overall, this bookstore carries a wider range of Fine Art titles. Handicraft books, however, are rather limited. Nonetheless, it was much better than Kinokuniya.

(3) Sekaido – I highly recommend this art store! Five floors of Art & Craft materials and the sixth floor is a gallery. Members really have a good deal with discounts! Because there is no branch in Chiba, I did not apply for membership. But now I am starting to regret that decision and should have bought my art materials there! >_<

(4) Kinokuniya (South Branch) – Situated in the annex building of Takashimaya Times Square; (Level 6). It has more english art books than the main branch. At least, the handicraft section has three shelfs. Hmmm sad!

(5) Yuzawaya – Situated in the main building of Takashimaya Times Square (Level 11). Just opened on 1 November 2009. Hmm, this new outlet does not do justice to Yuzawaya at all. Compared to the ones I frequent, it seems to have much lesser stuff. I think it is better to visit the ones in Kamata or Kichijoji. I plan to make a trip there myself one day… (I wonder how many trains I have to transfer… LOL!) ***Yuzawaya (Shinjuku Branch) will be closing down on 6 November 2016.***

(6) Tokyu Hands – Situated in the main building of Takashimaya Times Square; (Level 2 to 8); same direction with Louis Vuitton, which is on level 1. An appealing store that has a wide variety of hobby, DIY, home improvement, lifestyle products and many many unique goodies.

(See more pictures of these Shinjuku’s stores in Flickr)

Finally…

On my list of Shinjuku’s stores to visit, I had BookOff (a second-hand bookstore) and Okadaya (a huge handicraft store consist of two buildings), but was it was getting late and my feet really hurts! ~~>_<~~ So sadly, I made my way home. All I bought was some art materials from Yuzawaya. As for books, I got them from Amazon (Japan) instead. Not able to browse them before I buy, so I bought them by faith. Anyway, Amazon Japan is cheaper (surprisingly) and it is offering free shipping for books. Overall, it was a fun trip and the next time I will definitely visit Okadaya first. ^_^Y

 

***UPDATE***

Yuzawaya (Shinjuku Branch) will be closing down on 6 November 2016.
Here is the notice on their official website (in Japanese).
They are having closing down sale!!!
Thank you Claypotprincess for the information. ♡

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8 comments on “Adventure in Shinjuku – The Search for Art Books and Craft Materials

  1. Mecha
    May 18, 2017

    Hi
    Have you review about sewing machine especially Japan’s product?

    I wanna buy one but confused which one is the best especially for household beginner, because I’ve been searched for it but no one (as I know) review in english of course and where to buy it in Tokyo.

    Thank you

  2. claypotprincess
    September 2, 2016

    Hi Blackcabbit! I just wanted to drop a note to say thanks for your very helpful posts. I am just starting an online interior design course during my time in Tokyo, but also being a Singaporean who can’t really speak Japanese, I was very fortunate to read your blog post! I checked out Sekaido like you recommended and it has almost everything I need to start my course. Thank you so much. Separately, I think Yuzawaya in Takashimaya may have closed down now. Grateful if you have any additional tips / guidance on where to source fabric materials!

    • blackcabbit
      September 2, 2016

      You are most welcome, Claypotprincess (haha you’re making me hungry)… Thanks for the update on Yuzawaya (I didn’t know)! Please do check out Nippori Fabric Town (http://wp.me/pxRti-Nz). All the best for your online course and have a wonderful time in Japan!

  3. Anonymous
    March 31, 2013

    Thank you Thank you! I was having trouble Googling craft stores in Tokyo until I stumbled upon your blog and nearly drooled looking at all the places you have listed.

    I unfortunately can’t make much use of the websites as I can’t read Japanese at all and wondering if you know where to go to find Amigurumi supplies, like safety eyes and button and such.

    Definitely going to use your detailed instructions to explore some of these places.
    ^-^ !

    • Anonymous
      March 31, 2013

      (sorry, this was meant to be a comment on your post “Craft Stores in Japan” Had too many windows of your blog up =) )

      • blackcabbit
        March 31, 2013

        Hi, I’m so glad that you find the post Craft Stores in Japan – Tokyo (Shinjuku) useful. As for your question about where to get Amigurumi supplies, like safety eyes and button and such… Actually, I bought some eyes beads from both the bead stores (i.e. Grain Plaire & Kiwa Products). I’ve seen Yuzawaya & okadaya selling them too.

        Oh, I bet Tomato will have them as well. Do check out my related post: Craft Stores in Japan – Tokyo (Nippori) too. I’d highly recommend that you go there if you do visit Tokyo. ^_^Y

  4. Modo
    February 20, 2010

    ^ Oh I remember the Kinokuniya nxt to Takashimaya & Tokyu Hands! Went there to get the newest issue for 大人の科学 when I visited Japan in april last year. =)

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This entry was posted on November 30, 2009 by in Craft / DIY Projects, Life in Japan, Places / Travel and tagged .
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