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The best arts and crafts store in Tokyo?
Sekaido could well be one of the best art / craft / stationery stores in Japan. Located near Shinjuku-Sanchome Station the lofty building is home to 8 floors of all the bits and bobs one could need to get creative. Floors 1 - 6 will be the main focus for shoppers. The two basement floors host a car park and a center for something of which I can’t read the kanji.
The floor layout for Sekaido Shinjuku:
1) Stationery / business supplies
2) Comic corner / Design goods / Drawing goods / Copy corner
3) Painting goods (Japanese and Western) / Moulding, sculpting goods
4) Picture frames / Certificate frames / Prints
5) Oil painting goods, frames
On the first floor, on the left as you enter, you’ll find a good selection of greetings cards for birthdays, weddings, e.t.c. Actually, this must be one of the better places to buy greetings cards in Japan, a pursuit that can often lead to frustration, and poor quality cards.
Painters and drawers will really enjoy Sekaido. There’s so much in here to choose from; brushes in all shapes and sizes, pencils with pretty much every grade of lead you could think of, paints for all types of canvas (I was in here to buy some for fabrics), and plenty more. In fact, if you don’t know your stuff, or you’re not sure what you’re looking for, it can be a little overwhelming. Still, this isn’t the chaos of say a massive Tokyu Hands. The atmosphere is much quieter and has an air of the scholarly about it. Serious staff are on hand to help with inquiries, although I can’t vouch for their handling of languages other than Japanese.
Sekaido (at least not this Shinjuku branch) isn’t really a place to come for the quirky stuff. The store is more geared towards those who take their arts and crafts seriously. That being said, if there is any ‘only in Japan’ novelty, it may will be on the first floor, by the greetings cards, where you can choose from plenty of stickers.
There is a Sekaido homepage which is Japanese only. The design kind of reflects the store’s atmosphere, and also that this art / craft store has been around for some time. (It was established in 1940).
The are 11 branches of Sekaido in Japan, most of them in Tokyo, but there are a few in Kanagawa and Saitama, and there’s a solitary branch in Nagoya. Shopping is also available online, but again, it’s in Japanese.
Overall, a really useful arts and crafts resource in Tokyo. In terms of painting and drawing, it you can’t find what you’re after in this branch of Sekaido, perhaps it doesn’t exist. For those with a more casual interest, there is plenty of stationery here, and as has already been mentioned, the good selection of greetings cards.
Take Exit C1 from Shinjuku-Sanchome Station