By Victoria Stone
YOKOHAMA JP After the cancellation of the Tokyo Quilt Festival nearly two years ago, a new Japanese quilt show is strutting its stuff. While the Yokohama International Quilt Show is smaller than the famed Tokyo event, it’s no less elegant and exciting.
I arrived in Tokyo just in time to visit the Show on Opening Day.
The venue was divided into several areas, with the majority of the space devoted to large, color-coded quilt galleries. There were also classes, machine demonstrations, shopping, and more.
The first gallery showcased the ribboned quilts in all categories—on deep cobalt blue walls. Of course, the grand prize winners were the first things to see upon entering the hall.
Best in Show was Blue Tone II by Aki Sakai, a quilt celebrating her family memories from 30 years of marriage.
Second place was Light by Junichirou Kusano. In her artist’s statement, she mentioned her intention to bring bright light into a world feeling so dark in the midst of the corona pandemic.
Third place was a large Hawaiian quilt, Surrounded by Hawaiian Motifs by Shizue Asami. Shizue remembers visiting Hawaii with her family and used her favorite Hawaiian flower, the lokelani, as a motif.
In the Contemporary section, under Honorable Mention, is PINK HOUSE by Hisae Yoshida. This funky modern quilt is packed to gills with exciting hand stitching.
An outstanding performance in Contemporary Quilts was Expectation by Keiko Ohno. It’s an exuberant example of modern appliqué.
Also in Contemporary, and a treatise on modern life, was Command Shift by Junko Hiranuma.
A completely rambunctious Contemporary quilt, with all styles of stitching was Happy Quilt Delivered To You by Midori Yusa.
A trio of remarkable works stood out in the Group Quilts.
Given the honor of Excellence Award was this elegant Traditional Quilt, Tie by Keiko Goto. While deceptively simple from a distance, it glittered with tiny seed beads.
There were several stunning examples of English paper piecing, but Rondo by Yuko Hirano really caught my eye. I could not stop going back to marvel at it.
Another beautiful example was The Moon Shines by Masami Shigeru.
Both recipients of the Excellence Award, Royal Quilt by Yuka Inui (right) and Aloha nui Loa by Taeko Okamoto (left) made a truly stunning pair.
In the section for Junior and Youth, First Place was given to Eco Animal by Chiku Chiku Club Cuddly Brown, a hobby group for mothers and their children.
Another beautiful example in the Youth section was Shintsune by Haibara High School Home Club, honored with the Encouragement Award.
The second largest gallery featured glorious specimens of Japanese quilting on soft peach pink walls. This collection was titled Beauty and Splendors From Japan.
Ushering viewers into the collection was A Bouquet of Yellow Roses by Keiko Miyauchi.
The Beauty and Splendors section had a wide array of styles—from the extremely detailed and lively Kickoff! by Miwako Mogami, with densely quilted hares facing off over a ball, to the quiet elegance of Timbre of the Wind by Kazue Kawase, with English paper-pieced vintage ikats and embroidered flowers.
The layering of antique fabrics in Gloriosa in Full Bloom by Mineko Kikuchi was just so luscious.
The pale blue section showed quilts from the United States, featuring five paragons of American quilting—Allison Aller, Sue Nickels, Pat Holly, Salena Korpi Beckwith, and Jane Sassaman, as well as a small collection of quilts from the International Quilt Museum in Nebraska. This section of the Show allowed no photography.
Another international section, with quilts hung on soft lemon-yellow walls, was a remarkable collection of works from Taiwan and Korea. Unfortunately this section also politely, but strictly, enforced a no-photography policy.
Quilts in a small gallery, on a background of pale lilac, were collected under the title of Hikari (meaning Light). The works in this section were playful and more modern.
Flower of Life 2 By Yoko Lieda was cheerful on its own wall, and beautifully symmetrical.
This stunning Hawaiian quilt, Ilima by Cathy Nakajima, was honored as a Key Visual Quilt.
On pale gray walls, the Japan Handicraft Instructors Association presented a large collection of exquisite miniature quilts.
Also featured was an exhibition of Kanae Matsuura’s small quilts.
On the electric green walls were group quilts. This glowing mermaid on To The Future was created by Maki and Happy Friends.
This three-dimensional show stopper was packed with the roses and peonies appropriate to its name, English Garden by Hawaiian Quilt Online Salon Mana.
Towards the back of the hall was a museum-like presentation.
After World War II, an American military base was built and fenced off from the rest of the city. This became known as Little America, with its own culture, architecture, and music. Now long gone, the detailed quilts in this exhibit replicate some of the signs and buildings of this strange little pocket of Yokohama history.
While the quilts were gorgeous and jaw-dropping, in truth the most incredible aspect of this Show is merely its existence.
From the ashes of the renowned Tokyo Quilt Festival emerged this incredible event by the newly formed Japan Quilt Society. The 2.5 million quilters in Japan again have a venue to show and share their passion for patchwork!
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.
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