2017 tokyo quilt festival: part four

2017 tokyo quilt festival: part four

ABOVE: Detail of quilt by Yoko Saito

PART FOUR: Yoko Saito Retrospective, Grand Prix Winners

By Patricia Belyea

TOKYO JP  I have saved the best until the last! Let's start with the Yoko Saito Retrospective.

Known as the founder of Taupeism, Yoko Saito started her quilting journey emulating traditional American quilt designs. Ultimately she found her true quilting voice with softer, low-volume colors and meticulous details.

The exhibit opens with a country cabin surrounded by spring flowers—real blooming spring flowers that are fresh and fragrant! The show includes incredible quilts, bags, and a home display that demonstrate Yoko’s high design sense and needlework skills.

Here is a photo of Yoko Saito today, busy signing books in her shop’s booth on the other side of the Festival floor:

The most celebrated quilts at the Festival are the four Grand Prix Winners:

FRIENDSHIP AWARD / Treasure Box by Megumi Yokoyama

HAND MAKING AWARD: Quilt by Keiko Morihiro

JAPAN QUILT GRAND PRIX, SECOND PLACE / Welcome to Martha”s Garden by Masami Ishibashi


It has been my good fortune to attend Tokyo Quilt Festival four times. Each time is different yet I continue to see a remarkable dedication to the quilting arts.

For some of you, this four-part blog series is your way to visit the Tokyo Quilt Festival and see a sampling of the show. For others, this series may be the catalyst to embolden you to venture to Tokyo in the third week of January and experience the Festival for yourself!

To see PART ONE: Traditional Category, Original Design Category, Wa Category +click here

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

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

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  • Patricia Belyea
    Hi Glenice—I just looked at a very high-resolution detail image of the 2017 Hand Making Quilt winner. I would say that the small blocks are sewn together with a round disc is sewn over each intersection. The center medallion is a bigger block. The details on the quilt are ALL applique´. Amazing. PB

  • Glenice
    Hello from Australia…. I wonder if you could tell me if the quilt that won the hand making award (Keiko Morihiro) in January 2017 is a whole cloth quilt or in individual blocks. It is so beautiful….

    Thank you…

  • Patricia Belyea
    Sandy—I hope to be back to Tokyo Quilt Festival again next year to report on more great Japanese quilting feats! PB

  • Sandy May
    I am blown away by the talent exhibited in the quilt photos you have posted. These ladies show such creative designs and exquisite workmanship. I appreciate your dedication in exposing us nontravelers to such delightful creations.

  • Carol Wilson
    I would love a pattern for The Peony quilt by Tokiko Yanazawa

    Grand Prix Prize winner 2017
    Thank you

  • Patricia Belyea
    Carol, I really do not know if there is a pattern for that quilt. I believe the reason Tokiko’s quilt won the top prize at the show is because it is so original. Perhaps patterns are made of winning quilts but I do not know anything about that. Best, PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Helen—It really is an exceptional event. I hope you can make it someday! P.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Jane, I am so glad that you have been transported to the Tokyo Quilt Festival from your home. The Japanese are incredible quilters, as you can see. Stay in touch as I will be back next January to give you another report on the Festival. Best, P.

  • Jane G. Sahr
    I am so pleased that you presented this four part series. I’m a 73yr old quilter who had a major stroke about 9 yrs ago. I still quilt, one handed. and love The Quilt Show. I’ve been to Japan about a dozen, or so, yrs ago, but I’ve never been to the quilt festival, so I thank you, again. The Japanese women & men have taken the quilt to a new & highest point.

  • Maria Gardner
    Thank you so much, Patricia. Your photos transported me right there to sit in awe of such amazing handiwork of so many talented ladies. Just beautiful.

  • Helen
    Thank you for the splendid photography and close-up shots. This event should be on every quilter’s bucket list.

  • David Owen Hastings
    Thank you for taking us along on your quilting journey, Patricia!

  • Sherry
    Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful images! Its truly inspiring for those of us who have been quilting for many years to stretch the wings of our imagination and skills to try something new. I love that quilting is as important in Japan as it is here for fiber artists. Thanks again.

  • Michele Hill
    Thankyou so much Patricia for taking the time to share all of this with those of us that could not be there. (I know how long it takes to load all those photos!) My visit last year has left a lasting impression on me and my quilting journey forever and I also know that my photos from 2016 were the most popular in all my years of blogging – the Japanese quilters are truly masters of the quilting world and I would love to go every year! Thankyou, thankyou!

  • Patricia Belyea
    Yes, Michele. Going to the Tokyo Festival is a phenomenal experience—in the moment and after I get home. Best, P.

  • marty
    spectacular website. We get to learn so much by just checking in here. thank you

  • Sonia D. Carreon
    I was at the Tokyo International Quilt festival on the first day. The quilts are so amazing and I am quite impressed with the postage stamps quilt and yoyos.. The Japanese quilters pay so much attention to small details… Truly amazing.

  • Peggy
    Thank you so much for bringing the show to us!! Wish you could sneak me in your suitcase next time!

  • Sonia D. Carreon
    I was at the Tokyo International Quilt festival. The quilts are so amazing and I am quite impressed with the postage stamps quilt and yoyos.. The Japanese quilters pay so much attention to small details… Truly amazing.

  • Diane Bennett
    Beautiful Quilts thank you for sharing

    From California

  • marlene barkley
    The Crocker museum in Sacramento is displaying Japanese ceramics. One of the pieces looked like the large flower in one of the quilts. Don’t miss the exhibit.

  • LilyBee
    Candace, I didn’t realize the Grand Prix was a Camelia. I have a Camelia bush in my yard, but the flowers don’t look exactly as this one with so many petals. Nevertheless, I will try my hand at one of my beautiful photos.

  • celeste a childress
    Breath taking – so much talent! Thank you for sharing it.

  • Linda Gleason
    What awesome talent. Thank you for sharing these awesome quilts with us.

  • Barb Jenson
    Thank you for sharing the show with us simply amazing!

  • Candace Mackey
    Thank you so much for sharing Patricia! What amazing eye candy this is and the Grand Prix Camelia is stunning! Oh, how I wish I could see that one up close.

  • Patricia Belyea
    LilyBee—I do not know if Yoko Saito hand pieces. She obviously hand quilts. The same for the others. I know that when Japanese quilters make their quilts with kimono silks, they usually hand piece as the fabric is so fine and slippery. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Hello kuwaitquilter—Thanks for your comment. I saw your friend’s quilt in the Original Design Category of the Tokyo Quilt Festival. It caught my eye so I photographed it. I have now added photos of her quilt to my Part One blog. You can see them here at: https://okanarts.com/2017-tokyo-quilt-festival-1 Your friend should feel very honored to be jurying into this international show. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    LilyBee—I photographed the Grand Prix winner from a distance as there is a rope barrier in front of it. My estimate is 48" square. PB

  • LilyBee
    P.S. I have a number of Yoko Saito’s beautiful taupe and neutral fabrics to which I add a shock of a color to a few quilts. Her work is so outstanding and her fabric is just beautiful to look at and fondle. :)

    How large (about) is the grand prize winner? It is spectacular. I made a miniature about 6″×6″ of a similar flower design. Not so spectacular. :(

  • LilyBee
    Were all of Part Four quilts hand-pieced? Amazing, if so. Just looking at Morihiro’s quilt was exhausting thinking that she did all of that by hand. I’ve been quilting close to 10 years (with more than 500-700 quilts to my name), and to think I could have spent at least five of those years learning in Japan. :) Ah, too soon old; too late smart.

    Thank you much, PB, for sharing all these beauties.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Linda—I hope you can see it in person one year. PB

  • kuwaitquilter
    Thank you for showing us a taste of that amazing show. Do you have photos of some of the other winners? My friend from Kuwait has her quilt (black and white portrait of her father) hanging in the winners section. Have not heard what she won though. Just being accepted into the show is a great honour, I know.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Karen—You’re right! I took 600 photos at the Festival this year. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    LeeAnn—I thought of you when I posted the first quilt of the Traditional Category (Part One post). PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Cathy—Yeah! When I get home next week, I’m going to write a blog post about Tokyo Travel Tips. Be sure to check back for that, if you have not been in this big city before. PB

  • Cathy Jones
    Thank you for sharing. I’m even more determined to get to the event in 2018

  • Linda Fleming
    What a wonderful treat to see the quilt festival

  • Karen Friedrichs
    Thank you so much for the wonderful sharing! I am sure it was difficult to decide what to post.

  • LeeAnn
    Wow! Wow! Wow! Thanks for sharing some of the show with us.