2018 Tokyo Quilt Festival

2018 tokyo quilt festival—quilt exhibits

By Patricia Belyea

TOKYO JP  Three days after a traffic-stopping snowstorm hit the most populated city in the world, the Tokyo Quilt Festival opened its doors. Here are oodles of photos from Opening Day so you can vicariously tour the show floor. NOTE: This is only a thimbleful of the quilts exhibited!

Most of the credits were listed in Japanese. I have included the artists’ names when they were available in English.

original design category—a sampling

original design category—the winners

Detail: First Place—Jim Hay
Detail: 2nd Place—Emiko Yakushiji
Detail: 3rd Place— Hiroko Ouchi

wa (the essence of Japan) category—a sampling

wa category—the winners

First Place—Yasuko Anai
Second Place—Momoe Kashihara
Third Place—Tamiko Mawatari

traditional design category—the winners

First Place— Rieko Hasegawa
Second Place—Emiko Kobayashi
Third Place—Kyo Saito

invitational category—a sampling

Quilt Artist: Sachiko Yoshida
Quilt Artist: Mitsuyo Akita
Quilt Artist: Keiko Miyauchi
Quilt Artist: Toshie Shinohara
Quilt Artist: Etsuko Ishitobi

show winners

Friendship Award—Chikako Akashi

Hand Making Award—Toshiko Imai

Japan Quilt Grand Prix Second Place—Chiharu Katsuragawa

Japan Quilt Grand Prix First Place—Masako Sanada

To take a look at the SPECIAL EXHIBITS at 2018 Tokyo Quilt Festival +click here

To examine UP-CLOSE PHOTOS of the quilts at 2018 Tokyo Quilt Festival +click here


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  • Patricia Belyea
    Aimee—It is easy to go to Tokyo from Hawaii. You just have a find a friend to go with you and buy some airplane tickets. It is a very easy place to visit. PB

  • Margaret Packham
    I was there this year and each and every quilt was stunning. It is interesting that every quilter quilts her own quilt. I think it is a matter of pride, and so it should be. I bought the catalogue and have looked at it most days since, truly inspiring.

  • Aimee Arakawa
    Wish I can go and visit Japan fabric stores. I live in Hawaii

  • Patricia Belyea
    Irene—Yes. The diversity is exciting to see. The quilters really challenge themselves to go in their own directions. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Carol Ann—Some folks feel defeated seeing such accomplished work. I’m glad the photos inspire you as you can glean whatever new idea you want from the quilts shown! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Yarrow—Yes, very precise curves! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Karen—I only went to Tokyo for a few days this year. You would think it would be an arduous trip but it was really a joy. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    David—Many people who journey to Tokyo to see the Quilt Festival go for two days. The first day is to get an overall impression and the second day is to really delve into the details of the masterpieces and meet some of the quilting leaders there. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Cindy—My pleasure. Thanks for visiting! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Jane—I go to Tokyo to report on the show as everyone around the globe wants to see the amazing work of the Japanese quilters. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Jane—I go to Tokyo to report on the show as everyone around the globe wants to see the amazing work of the Japanese quilters. PB

  • yvonne moore
    My favourite was your top heading quilt by Satoko Okamura – real patchwork & so much stitching. It was only on my second day that I realized it was bound in lace, another real contrast in textures!

  • Patricia Belyea
    Yvonne—That was an amazing quilt. The stitching made a whole new texture that was innovative. And I never noticed the lace trim. PB

  • Jane Kuwana
    What a joy to share your wonderful photos of these spectacular quilts!

  • Cindy Gilbrough
    Thanks, Patricia, the pics are wonderful!

  • David Owen Hastings
    Just had another look at these amazing quilts… mind blowing amount of work and creativity!

  • karen
    Thank you so much for sharing! What an experience of joy it must have been.

  • Yarrow McConnell
    Patricia – thanks so much for sharing these photos – inspiration – including many many curvy pieces! Yarrow

  • Patricia Belyea
    Thanks Nancy for taking the time to adjust your monitor! PB

  • Carol Ann Eades
    Thank you for your insight and for the inspiration oozing from this remarkable and unique show

  • Patricia Belyea
    Irene—My work can not compare with the detailed craftsmanship and designs of the Japanese quilters. But that doesn’t stop me. I love quilting and so do you! Let’s just keep cutting apart fabric and sewing it back together! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Hi Meg—Thanks for sharing all your thoughts on the Tokyo Quilt Festival.

    Let’s start with the concept of BIG. It can be interpreted in many ways. I have no need to defend the Festival but let’s take a look at attendance info.

    On opening day of the Tokyo Quilt Festival, 50,000 visitors came through the doors. When I spoke and taught at Birmingham in 2014, the organizers were thrilled to count 8,000 quilters coming through the doors on the first day. I don’t have opening day stats for Houston but the overall day count for the Houston Festival is 85,000. The Tokyo Quilt Festival finishes with a total of 245,000 visitors. As I have not been to any of the European shows, I can not comment on Carrefour.

    I want you to think back on the special exhibits at the Tokyo show. I have not seen anything that compares in Birmingham or Houston. Have a whole team of quilters create a cohesive and professional exhibit like Louise May Alcott’s Orchard House was impressive. And the Complete Works of Fumiko Nakayama with the entry installation was also stunning.

    You mention that you were not able to get close to the quilts in Tokyo. I was there on opening day and was able to get close to any quilt I wanted. And that is the busiest day.

    As for international, the show is open to anyone. That said, it is not easy to get through the paperwork, compete with such extraordinary talent, and ship your quilt. I saw a quilt from the Mideast last year and a few American quilts.

    Funny you should ask about workshops. The Japanese style of quilt training is formal and intense. Students do not take workshops from any teacher but their own sensei (honored teacher). That’s quite the opposite of American quilters who take classes from anyone and everyone!

    I was not disappointed this year although I have attended five times. I look forward to heading back next January. PB

  • Irene Dunlop
    When I look at the work of these quilters, I wonder what the rest of us think we are doing, but I know the joy of working with fabric, so there it is. Their beautiful stitching, and innovative ideas are true works of art. Thank you for sharing these lovely pictures Patricia

  • Meg Baier
    Hello Patricia, first of all i‘d like to thank you for sharing all the pictures with details, and information.

    I am a Hobby patchworker , and love combining my trips with quilt shows. I‘ve been to many different ones in Europe, since is it‘s closer to me ( i live in Berlin). Tokyo „international“ quilt show, was a „dream to be realized“ ; to visit „the world biggest quilt event“…
    Ifinally made it this year…and was so dissapointed!!! I‘ve never been to the show in Houston, Texas, but i imagine it is bigger that that. I‘m a frequent guest at the Carrefour, european quilt festival in Ste Marie-aux-Mînes, and that is definetly bigger than that. There‘s another one in Birmingham in August that i think is also bigger than that…
    I think you cannot call a festival where you don‘t find any information on the quilts , other than japanese “international”. The show is so full that you don‘t have a chance to get close to the quilts been shown. I was there on Monday, and was so dissapointed that i didn’t even bother to come back. As i said ‘m very thankfull to your blog that definitely helped me to see and understand a little more.
    The japanese undoubtedly make a beautiful, accurate and detailed work. I’m a huge fan of their style, therefore this big wish to make it to this show…
    I think they still have to change few things if they want it to call their show “international”. The other thing i found weird, is that they don’t have any workshops to offer…this is the chance you have to learn from the big masters…
    Patricia, i’m sorry, but i had to share my disappointment, and at the same time thank you for not letting my impression be even worse.

  • Nancy
    I would love to be able to see your site. The popups that fill up almost 1/2 of the page and stay on are incredibly distracting and irritating. The bits I can see are very interesting and I’d love to see them.

  • Irene Harvalias
    WOW! Such beauty, workmanship and diversity! Amazing!

  • Patricia Belyea
    Linda—How cool that reading my blog moved you to see the Tokyo Quilt Festival! I agree that the special exhibits really are amazing. I look forward to getting back to Tokyo next January! Best, PB

  • Linda Steiner
    After reading your blog last year I actually was there myself this year. Thankyou for sharing the winning quilts. I took photos too but wasnt sure which ones were awarded by the judges. The festival is grand in scale. The walls for quilt display and the lighting really showcase each work of art very well. Special exhibits really lived up to the moniker. Every quilter should put this event on their bucket list if they enjoy travel. I fell in love with Japan.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Rachel—My pleasure. So many people are interested in what’s happening in Tokyo! PB

  • Rachel
    Thanks for putting this together!

  • Patricia Belyea
    Susan—All the quilts shown at Tokyo Quilt Festival would be blue-ribbon winners at our shows. It is absolutely incredible work. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Sandy—They are remarkable quilts! Enjoy. PB

  • Susan Guzman
    I’m blown-away by the artistry. Truly outstanding work. What I love most about the quilts from Japan are the details. Once you zero-in, the quilts become that much more spectacular. Thanks so much for sharing! What a treat!

  • Patricia Belyea
    Bess—Japanese quilters are committed to a rigorous educational/training regime like nothing we have in the US. They choose a sensei (teacher) who they meet with once a month—bringing their homework each time they return. It takes around 5 years to be considered a competent quilter. Many students study with their senseis for decades. PB

  • Sandy May
    Now that I’ve looked at the 2018 quilts, I’m going back and review (and enjoy) the prior years photos you have posted. I’m simply enchanted by these most unusual quilts.

  • Bess Skipper
    All I can say I am glad I was not a judge. All of them are breathtakingly beautiful. I wish they were near me to teach me such a beautiful skill.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Patsy—Good call on the diversity. They are not cookie-cutter quilts with slight variations but instead highly creative and individual. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Jules—You are so welcome. I had the pleasure of attending so I was the lucky one. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Patricia—Thanks for visiting! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Barbara—Agreed. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Eileen—You’re welcome! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Hilda—I hope you found my third blog post about the Festival that shows up-close detail photos of many quilts. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Gul—I have been fortunate to be able to attend TQS five times. It is my mission to share what I see each time with other quilters. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Kim—You’re welcome. Thanks for letting me know you visited. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Penny—Absolutely! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Sondra—You can imagine how long Festival visitors spend looking at each quilt. Many folks come for two full days! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Michele—The Japanese quilters are incredible. Remember that they make their quilts to impress. The other approach to quilting has nothing to do with impressing others, but of giving love to others. PB

  • Patsy N. Burroughs
    My Goodness, those are the most beautiful. creative and varied quilts i have ever seen in my lifetime! Not to mention the beautiful hand work, just exquisite! Thank you for sharing, just awesome.

  • Jules
    Thanks for sharing these with us! (from TQS)

  • Barb Jenson
    Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful quilts it just takes your breath away.