2017 tokyo quilt festival: part one :: Okan Arts
2017 tokyo quilt festival: part one

2017 tokyo quilt festival: part one

ABOVE: Grand Prix First Prize Winner by Tokiko Yanazawa

PART ONE: Traditional Category, Original Design Category, Wa Category

By Patricia Belyea

TOKYO JP  Yesterday the International Great Quilt Festival opened at the Tokyo Dome with over 50,000 people attending. The Festival is the largest quilt show in the world—spanning seven days—with an average of 250,000 visitors per year. Exhibitions, competitions, special shows, vendors, and more fill the huge baseball stadium.

This blog presents just a taste of this extraordinary show. Even so, it takes four posts to share all the photos that were taken. (Please note that I have not included many of the makers’ names as most were written in Japanese characters.)

The Traditional Category quilts may be based on traditional designs but the entrants have taken the complexity of their work to a whole new level:

Quilts in the Original Design Category span dramatic to charming to humorous. Details again abound with every quilt.

Wa means Spirit of Japan. For the Wa Category, some of the participants used vintage and antique Japanese fabrics to make their quilts.

Check out the details on these Wa Category quilts:

To see PART TWO: Invitational Flower Story Exhibit, Bag Category, Partnership Quilts +click here

To see PART THREE: Special Exhibits, Historic Textiles +click here

To see PART FOUR: Yoko Saito Retrospective, Grand Prix Winners +click here

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53 comments to “2017 tokyo quilt festival: part one”

  1. Barbara Hume says:

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Barbara—It’s great to be able to show you this real time. In the next few days there will be more to think about than needlework in faraway places! PB

  2. soozi says:

    yes, these quilters have taken it to the next level,…..and beyond!
    one can always recognize a japanese quilt in a nanosecond…the workmanship
    is always so exquisite.

  3. Celia Ambrose says:

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos of these wonderful quilts. So very lovely.

  4. Allison Aller says:

    It is so humbling to see the work of these masters. We Americans have so much to learn from them! Thank you so much for the photos.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Allison—I know what you mean. I have to get over the fact that my quilts seem casual beside the refined Japanese quilts. I’m just glad I quilt and I enjoy the creative process. PB

  5. Emily Breclaw says:

    Thank you for posting these! Such exquisite workmanship, so inspiring!!!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Hi Emily! This year I really focused on taking close-ups as seeing the workmanship really helps us all see the high level of detail the Japanese include in every quilt. PB

  6. pat rime says:

    Thank you for the photos. I will never be able to travel to the show and so appreciate seeing the amazing textile creations. Please include snapshots of the accompanying text. These days it is pretty simple to translate photos of non-western text with Google Translate. I would so love to know the information about the works and the artists.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Pat—Thanks for the suggestion. I am editing and managing hundreds of photos for this four-part blog series. You can imagine that the many steps of taking photos of captions and connecting them to the correct quilt is beyond me! Best, PB

  7. Janet Steele says:

    The quilts are exquisite! I only wish I could afford to study Japanese quilting IN JAPAN! Such detail! Such exactness in execution! Such movement!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Janet-Learning to quite in Japan is a serious and arduous 5-year journey. It might or might not be a good match for you. PB

      • Janet Steele says:

        Oh, this was not a serious request for information to study, but thank you for responding. I KNOW quilting at this level does not come overnight! In my mind, you’d have to actually live there and saturate yourself in this art. Just a wish! If I’m correct, I believe you lived there for a time. Thanks again!

        • Patricia Belyea says:

          Janet—I wish I could say that I have lived in Japan. No, I have only visited many times. And I am not great quilter like a trained Japanese quilter. But I do love to quilt—especially with Japanese fabrics. PB

  8. Carole Lyles Shaw says:

    Thanks so very much for all fo these photos.
    I have one question–the photo at the top of the first post says it is the grand prize winner. So, is this a quilt with a hand and iphone on it? I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking at.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Hi Carole—On opening day the Festival is a mob scene. It takes great patience to get a photo of a quilt with no people in it, especially the winners. So you are looking at a quilt with a person taking a photo of the quilt with their smart phone. In a few hours I will post Part Four of this series with photos of all the winners. I will show you that amazing quilt with no smart phone soon! PB

  9. Helen Hubert says:

    Thank you for posting the photos. That is the best show, ever. Incredible workmanship!!!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Helen—I am pleased to share these photos with so many people who would like to see them in person. Best, PB

  10. LilyBee says:

    Such amazing, beautiful, and expertly made quilts by fantastic artists. Boggles the mind and such great incentives to hone one’s hobby.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      LilyBee—If you are interested in participating in the monthly giveaways, be sure to comment at the bottom of the giveaway post. PB

  11. emily says:

    Intense concentrated work!

  12. CL Tree says:

    Thank you for sharing your pictures of the quilt show. My favorite shot is the 3 women looking very closely at the blue and white quilt. It’s great!

  13. lynne allitt says:

    fantastic quilts great talent spectacular work.

  14. Lolly Schiffman says:

    Are there opportunities to take classes in Japan in quilting for the very interested hobbyist short of the 5 year intensive study?

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Lolly—Not that I know of. Studying quilting in Japan is a very structured system. Instead I suggest you seek the opportunity to take a class or workshop with a Japanese sensei who is visiting America. BTW, American quilt teachers can not teach Japanese quilters in Japan. Instead, if they are so lucky, they are invited to teach Japan sensei as a group (usually in Tokyo and/or Osaka).

      • Janet Steele says:

        How would you ever know about Japanese Senseis visiting America who teach the Japanese art of quilting?

        • Patricia Belyea says:

          Janet—La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum has a biennial quilt show of Japanese quilts. When the show opens, the sensei and her students are in La Conner and they teach classes. Also keep your eyes open for exhibits and classes at other quilt museums and festivals.

  15. Patsy B. Texas says:

    Absolutely magnificent! From applique to piecing and art quilts, the Japanese Ladies never cease to amaze me with their quilts. What an opportunity to be able to be there, thanks for sharing.

  16. Pat de Lacey says:

    What absolutely stunning work. The detail is incredible. Thank you for sharing the photos.

  17. genevieve segalas says:

    j’aimerais recevoir vos news!

  18. Ann Darling says:

    Patricia particularly love the photo of the back of the three women, colour co-ordinated yet – looking closely at a quilt. It’s a great photo.

  19. June Cook says:

    Oh, Patricia . . . Thank you for sharing your adventure with us. What creativity! What attention to detail! What inspiration! What display of Wa!

  20. Peggy Engelmann says:

    Do you have any information that you can share about the quilt “Peony” – such as pattern?

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Peggy, The quilts at Tokyo Quilt Festival are made by expert quilters who develop their own designs. PB

  21. LUCIA ALFARO says:


    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Lucia, Easier said than done. I do not know of a non-Japanese book about where to buy fabrics in Japan. Please visit the RESOURCES section of the Okan Arts website for some info on textile shopping in Japan. Also start doing Google searches and reading blogs of others who have travelled to Japan. It’s like making a patchwork quilt, piecing together all the bits of information for your Japanese adventure. Best, P.

  22. Julie Beard says:

    What a stunning array of beautiful hand works, whether directly made by hand or by machine. The expression of their stories are beyond anything that I have seen and in my opinion truly make Japanese Quilter’s masters of fabric and stories. Amazing, thank you for the opportunity to view. Julie Beard

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Julie—Absolutely. I’ll be back in January 2018 to give you are report on the newest masterpieces being made in Japan. PB

  23. Susan says:

    These are incredibly beautiful and the hand work exquisitely executed.

  24. Diane Simancek says:

    Re: Tokiko Yanazaw – The Peony
    Is there a website where I could learn more about this artist? I would love to see photos of her other work. Gorgeous!!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Hi Diane—There must be info on the web about Tokiko. Because it is likely in Japanese, we can not search for her work readily. This is the only piece of I have ever seen of hers. PB

  25. Beth C. says:

    I’ve just spent an hour going through some of your posts. What stunning eye candy! Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful quilts!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Beth—Welcome to my world where I care about creativity, quilting, and Japan! I hope you signed up for the Okan Arts email newsletter so you can learn more about these three interests each month. PB

  26. Suzanne Caflisch says:

    Your posts are wonderful and very informative. Thank you for sharing.
    I am planning my trip of a lifetime in January for the show and to meet my new in laws! The only thing I’m having trouble with is understanding if they have classes for people to attend. I’d love some of your insight on that, if you have a minute.