tokyo quilt festival 2020

tokyo quilt festival 2020

By Patricia Belyea

TOKYO JP  The International Great Quilt Festival is immense in so many ways—inspiration, excellence, and delight. What I’m sharing with you here is the tip of the needle of what’s displayed in the vast Tokyo Dome. I do not include the makers of the quilts if their names are only available in Japanese. Note: The quilt featured above is by Miwako Mogami.

competition exhibits

The competitions are open to everyone around the world, especially since the entry forms are now available in English. All the same, most quilts are made by Japanese quilters. The quilts are juried into the Festival and then judges pick three winners in each category.

Wa refers to the essence of Japan. These quilts are often made with traditional Japanese textiles or include Japanese motifs.

This exhibit explodes with every kind of inventive quilt, taken to the highest level of execution.

Both expected and unexpected traditional quilts abound in this category.

Quilters are so talented! Here are a few bags from the Bag competition.

invitational exhibit

In this exhibit, fifty Japanese quilt leaders were invited to present all-new work.

Chieko Shiraishi:

Sachiko Yoshida:

Etsuko Ishitobi:

Noriko Inafune:

the big winners

The best-of-show winners are hung in a special area that’s typically mobbed with visitors and cameras. It’s not easy to get a close-up photo unless you have accordion arms that can stretch over the hip-high crowd barrier.

Japan Quilt Grand Prix First Place: SUMIKO NAGAMI

Japan Quilt Grand Prix Second Place: TAKAKO OIKAWA | GREAT ROMANTIC

Hand Making Award: HIROKO TAMAI

Machine Quilting Award: RUMIKO OIWA | KAWAII


The World of Keiko Goke
A vivid and playful personality bursts through the enthusiastic quilts of Keiko Goke, this year’s featured artist.

the music of quilts

Eight sensei and their students created large scale installations featuring their favorite choices of music in this major special exhibit.

The stacked animal musicians of Bremen, made by sensei Reiko Washizaka and her students, took center stage.

Last year’s featured quilt artist Suzoko Koseki created an all-American swing scene with her students for this year’s festival.

Nutcrackers, mice and toys come alive in this over-the-top production led by the wild-and-wacky sensei Akane Sakamoto.

The Queen of Taupe, Yoko Saito, and her students illustrated scenes from the classic Mary Poppins story.

Well-known children’s songs are interpreted in a sweet collection of quilts with master quilter Yoshiko Katagiri.

special exhibits

Super-star Shizuko Kuroha reveals her process in this display of quilts made with traditionally dyed fabrics.

A cadre of art quilters from the UK showed an impressive range of styles. The micro-worlds of Jessica Grady, made waste and recycled materials, captivated my attention.

Jessica Grady:

Every year a children’s book gets re-illustrated with quilts. This year is an all-time favorite—Curious George.

It just doesn’t stop! There are youth quilts, framed quilts, charity quilts, and more. Plus demonstrations, talks, and vendors. And if you’re lucky, you might just bump into one or two of your global quilting friends!

Susan Briscoe, with hubby Glyn, from Scotland:

I suggest you visit the Tokyo Quilt Festival at least one time. You don't have to come on a tour. Just find a buddy, buy airplanes tickets, and treat yourselves to a trip to Japan—one of the friendliest and safest places in the world!

To see detail photos of quilts at Tokyo Quilt Festival 2020 +click here

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  • Rebecca Turner

    What a delightful experience to see these beautiful quilts….actually works of art! The past year was full of so much stress and to see these quilts alters my view and inspires me to complete my memory quilt of Paris.

    Thank you for introducing me to such creative quilters.

    Rebecca Turner

  • Rebecca Turner

    What a delightful experience to see these beautiful quilts….actually works of art! The past year was full of so much stress and to see these quilts alters my view and inspires me to complete my memory quilt of Paris.

    Thank you for introducing me to such creative quilters.

    Rebecca Turner

  • Patricia Belyea
    Susan—Great to hear that you are well and enjoying a little armchair travel. I hope you fulfill your dream of visiting Japan. And I hope to get back there—someday! PB

  • Susan Maresco
    Dear Patricia, sitting here in our tenth day of lockdown completely gobsmacked by your photos of the Tokyo Quilt Festival this year and all the stuff that went with it. The jazz, Mary Poppins stuff, Curious George, all so fun, interesting, the sort of amusement badly needed. I just spent half an hour catching up on all the branches of your site and blog, a breath of fresh air. And i might make it to Japan yet by my 80th birthday, still a dream.

    Thank you for taking the time to communicate so much to us who look avidly for what’s next.
    Best wishes to you and Victoria, Susan

  • Patricia Belyea
    Linda—I like the use of the word “escape.” Yes, it is like walking into a totally new world of beauty and wonderful artistry. PB

  • Linda Steiner
    Once again I thank you for sharing a glimpse into the Tokyo Quilt Festival. Your photography and explanations help me enjoy a visit and escape to that amazing event.

    Thanks for the tour! It was wonderful!!!

  • Patricia Belyea
    Jane—Always glad to have you along! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Bena—Aren’t you a lucky one! So you know all the things that I left out—which is a huge amount of excellent work. The Festival is always worthy of wonderful memories. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Wendy—My pleasure. The hours that go into each masterpiece is intense. It’s nice that many people can enjoy some of the exhibited quilts more than the one week of the Festival. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Christine—Yes. I love to encourage independent travelers to head to Japan. That’s how I got started on my wonderful love affair with this special place. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Abigail—So glad you could visit via my little blog post! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Glenna—I’ve been reporting on the Tokyo Quilt Festival for a few years. It took awhile but I did realize that close-ups would be appreciated by all. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Grace—I hope you do. With the Olympics, there’s lots of English signage in Japan. Just buy an air ticket, come over in January and enjoy everything! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Darney—The Festival keeps up its amazing status annually. Those quilting gals in Japan must be so exhausted. I will add you to the Interested List for the 2021 Tour. Bryan and I were not able to cross paths this year as he was steadfastly staying close to Hiro. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Leilani—You are welcome. I like to document the Festival so others can enjoy it virtually. PB

  • Dee josephson
    Some of the quilts take my breath away and leave me gasping in awe

  • Patricia Belyea
    Dee—Yes. The quilts are quite remarkable. And I’ve only showed you a few! PB

  • leilani bennett
    Thank you so much for this lovely little tour of these fantastic quilts!

  • Darnney Proudfoot
    Wow! I thought that last year’s show was fabulous but the Tokyp Quilt Show gets better and better every year. I love the beautiful colors, the fabrics and patterns of Keiko Goke, the featured artist. I enjoyed seeing what my favorite quilt artist \, Yoko Saito did this year. I liked Akane Sakamoto"s Nutcracker series, I would love to attend the 2021 show with you, pending your travel plans. Did you get to see Bryan Whitehead?

  • Grace Lombardo
    Thank you for sharing! Someday I hope to attend.

  • Glenna D
    Thank you for the marvelous photos. I am an admirer of Japanese quiltmakers and have enjoyed seeing their works. I especially appreciate your closeups of their intricate details.

  • Abigail vargas
    Thank you so much for sharing! I love to see the outcome of the show every year. Very inspiring!

  • Bena Luxton
    Thank you for sharing this overview. I attended the show this year for two full days with three friends and we all continue to rave about it. Your overview has enhanced the experience. It is so worth attending!

  • Christine Moleski
    Thank you for sharing. I am so inspired and am going to save your traveler tips

  • Wendy Fullmer
    Lovely and wonderful article! Thank you!

  • Patricia Belyea
    Janet—The biennial Japanese quilt show will open near the end of June. You will have to refer to the Museum schedule for Opening Day. Also try to visit Indigo Stitch when you are in La Conner. It is Sylvia Pippen’s shop, on the waterfront. She sells lots of Japanese sashiko supplies as well. See: PB

  • Janet Anderson
    Patricia, I have been facinated with these quilts since you came to Marble Falls Tx to talk to us. I also have been to La Conner in 2010 and went of course to the Quilt Museum. There I picked up a kit for sachiko.Will there be a Japanese exhibit this summer? La Conner is on our list of places to go this.year.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Suzanne—How wonderful that you could attend the Tokyo Quilt Festival for two whole days! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Marlene—You are so kind to comment. I hope you are doing well! PB

  • Suzanne Dandoy
    Having attended the Tokyo Quilt Festival once, I agree with Patricia that any dedicated quilter should attend once. It is overwhelming, inspiring, and filled with fascinating and beautiful plus Vendors. I spent two full days there when I went.

  • marlene barkley
    Such a treat to be able to see the quilts. Sorry to have missed it this year.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Karen—Yes, I agree. It is amazing work. PB

  • Karen Newberry
    Wow! What beautiful, creative work. Thanks for,sharing.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Janet—I think about how the Japanese have to learn to read and write such complex characters. Does this help form their ability to accomplish detailed work? I wonder. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Linda—Thanks for your comment. It takes me about a day to prep for the Tokyo Quilt Festival blog post—organizing and editing the photos. And I have many more photos that did not make it into the post! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Cindy—All the textile traditions in JP are worthy of our interest. You know that from working with vintage obi. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Donna—My pleasure. It’s the folks who made the amazing quilts who did all the work! PB

  • Cindy Chock
    Absolutely mind numbing! Saving my money to make the trip! Thank you Patricia for the beautiful photos!

  • Donna DeShazo
    Wow! Just wow…..Thanks for taking the pix and posting them, P!

  • LInda lim
    Thank you so much for sharing the photos of the Japan exhibition. Your customers must greatly appreciate your taking the time to sort through your photos and post.

  • Janet Wright
    Wow! The workmanship is overwhelmingly beautiful. Attention to detail—creativity etc. How lucky that you are there. Thanks for posting

  • Patricia Belyea
    MJ—You’re welcome. The Japanese quilters work hard to produce great work, year after year. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Raye—Tokyo Quilt Festival is a bucket list experience for many quilters who I talk with. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Kerry—I agree.PB

  • Kerry

  • Raye
    Beautiful and so colorful. Thanks for sharing; I now need to add this trip to my bucket list.

  • Mj Buckingham
    Thank you for the photos which are inspiring!