2016 Tokyo Quilt Festival

tokyo quilt festival 2016

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By Patricia Belyea

TOKYO, JP  The reason so many quilters travel to Tokyo during the third week of January is to attend the largest quilt show in the world. Open a full week, this bonanza of stitch, color and design typically attracts 235,000 visitors to the show floor.

The International Great Quilt Festival celebrates quilts and quilters with umpteen exhibits, competitions and displays. I started my journey through the galleries of quilts with the WA Quilts exhibit—all about the spirit of Japan.

Tokyo Quilt Festival 2016, WA exhibit

Tokyo Quilt Festival 2016, WA exhbiti

Right next door were the Traditional Quilts with symmetrical masterpieces:

Tokyo Quilt Festival 2016, Traditional Categoy

And some asymmetrical ones:

Tokyo Quilt Festival 2016, Traditional Category

The Original Quilts exhibit showed a huge range of styles and personalities, including these exciting compositions with lots of curves:

Tokyo Great Quilt Festival 2016, Original Category

Who would have thought a Japanese quilter would be so enthralled with Halloween to make this delightfully detailed quilt. Look at all the micro yoyos!

Tokyo Great Quilt Festival 2016, Original Category

Move over Luke Haynes. Last year, 64 top Japanese quilters innovated the American log cabin design in the Log Cabin Sensations exhibit:

Tokyo Quilt Festival 2016, Log Cabin

The BIG winners at the Festival are featured in their own section. The Grand Prix-First Place was awarded to Miwako Mogami for her audacious quilt entitled “Wow, Bananas!” (detail shown). The Friendship Award was given to Hiromi Tanaka for her fun composition with the 3D tail.

Tokyo Great Quilt Festival 2016, Winners

Bags, bags and bags. Here’s a taste of what Japanese quilters and hand-stitchers created for this year’s stunning judged Bag exhibit:

Tokyo Quilt Festival 2016, Bags

Special exhibits abounded. There were "designer garrets," the complete works of Reiko Washizawa and more.

Tokyo Quilt Festival 2016, Special Exhibits

William Morris, once known as the "father of modern design," was featured in an exhibit entitled Paradise on Earth—with a historical home vignette, actual wallpaper books, fabric swatches from 150 years ago, and quilts made with contemporary versions of his patterns.

Tokyo Quilt Festival 2016, William Morris Exhibit

What might have pleased Will the most was eyeing young ladies wearing his designs in a mod fashion show.

Tokyo Quilt Festival 2016, William Morris

Every year quilters from around Japan participate in the Partnership Quilts. This year the theme was Music. With the thousands of blocks contributed, a team of volunteer quilters under the supervision of Suzuko Koseki made 74 huge quilts.

Charts beside the quilts show the names of the individuals who made the blocks. You can buy a raffle ticket to win a quilt, with all the money going to charity.

Tokyo Quilt Festival 2016, Community Quilts

Aisles of vendors with kits, fabrics, supplies, accessories and clothing teemed with shoppers. I spent my money at the Clover booth, buying three thimbles. A love of hand-stitching in Japan makes thimbles an important quilting tool so there are lots of styles and sizes.

Tokyo Quilt Festival 2016, Clover Booth

As Opening Day came to a close, I found the exit sign and climbed up through the bleachers at the Tokyo Dome. Looking back down at the Quilt Festival, I mused about the immensity of quilting—not just with this stupendous show but how it touches lives here in Japan, in America and around the globe.

Tokyo Great Quilt Festival 2016

ABOUT US: Okan Arts, a petite family business, is co-owned by mother-daughter duo Patricia Belyea and Victoria Stone. Patricia and Victoria sell Japanese textiles online, host creative quilting experiences, and lead quilting & textile tours to Japan.