Sunday, March 6, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

I learned from Mama yesterday that my favorite notions shop in Yokohama is closing its doors at the end of the month.  It's the store where I got the sewing silks last year.  I suppose the "good" news is it's not closing because of the economy.  An entire area around Yokohama Station is going to be demolished and rebuilt as a result of Kobe earthquake and many regional authorities finally taking a hard look at the safety of older public buildings.  The really bad news is they are not relocating or reopening, as far as Mom could find out.


The store, called Sanada, was in an unattractive underground area near a tunnel connecting the West and East exits of Yokohama Station.  Way, way back, in early-mid 60's, returned (from WWII) soldiers with missing limbs used to dress in Pilgrims' White, play accordions, and beg.  There was very little light and walking through the tunnel was the closest thing to looking into the world of the dead for me.  In fact when I was 6 and 7 and 8, I wasn't sure if some of them were dead or alive, and I had to ask Mama "what" they were.

As the country became wealthier and the soldiers passed on, there were fewer and fewer of these men hanging about, and in the 80's and 90's when they tried to pretty up this tunnel, the remaining guys were, I can only imagine, conveniently relocated.

At the West end of this tunnel, in what still feels like gigantic bomb shelter, there was this independently-owned emporium of mostly notions and fabrics.  If you came through the tunnel from the East side, it was surviving hell and jumping into heaven.  There used to be bolts of fabric, drawers of French, Belgian and Italian buttons and big spools of Swiss ribbons.  From memory, gradually they yarns and other craft material started to take up more space about 20 years ago, and last year there were more books and kits. 

When I was a student, I often when there, took a couple of hours to look around the entire shop, and then came home with 1 meter of ribbon, or a couple of pieces of felted wool, for no reason, but to save then in a cookie tin.  Sometimes I'd make something with these, sometimes I used them for gift-wrapping, but most of the time I just looked at the wee treasures and felt good. 


I liked their understated decor, because it exuded serious, grown-up handwork.  They didn't kowtow to fashion too much and never neglected the basics, and I know many of their clients were professional dressmakers.  I used to love to listen in on their conversations with the capable staff.

We still have a giant chain called Yuzawaya, a relative newcomer, and I assume I can find everything I might need.  Mama says they are trying hard to shed the discount-store mold, but they will never replace the local, independently-owned loveiness.

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