By Patricia Belyea
TOKYO JP Today Amy Katoh of Blue & White added me to her busy schedule with a 12:30 lunch near her shop in Azabu-Juban. Along the way, I had time to stop by Shibuya Hikarie. On the eighth floor of this new Tokyo skyscraper, I visited d47 Museum to see “47 Textiles Today.”
The textile-wares exhibit represents all 47 first-order prefectures in Japan. With only one artisan or manufacturer shown from each region, the curators choose a tremendous range of talent, texture and style. I was able to handle or try on anything, and everything was for sale—a very ambitious installation.
I made it to Blue & White just as Amy-san was arriving. Dressed in a rustic yet sophisticated indigo jacket with signature blue and white accessories, Amy led me to a popular fresh foods cafe a few blocks away.
Our delicious lunches disappeared as we caught up on each other’s lives. When I told Amy about my dream of leading a quilt tour to Japan in 2016, she encouraged me strongly. Amy cares passionately about supporting Japan’s traditional arts and crafts, and promoting them to everyone in the world!
Once back at Blue & White I met up with Miwako Kimura, an important quilting teacher in Tokyo. Miwako, who I know from the biennial Japanese quilts shows at La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum, kindly journeyed from the western edge of Toyko to see me today.
We found a Starbucks nearby and ordered up hojicha tea lattes. I learned about her three years in New York state where she experienced women gathering together in quilting guilds, so unlike the 300-year old Japanese tradition of master sensei and apprentices.
Miwako encourages her students to find their own way in quilting, not just follow her. This is evidenced in the diversity of work that's presented every two years in La Conner.
We also talked about me leading a quilt tour to Japan. Being such a generous person, Miwako offered to host a luncheon with her students and my tour participants at her home. That would be incredible!
Two hours later I returned to Blue & White, this time to spend time with another lovely woman—store manager Sayoko Hayasawa. Bright and helpful, Sayoko let me photograph all the quirky collections around the shop. As always, everything chosen for Blue & White is delightful.
My purchase today? Blue & White’s 2014 enchanting calendar.