yoko saito : leader of taupeism :: Okan Arts
yoko saito : leader of taupeism

yoko saito : leader of taupeism


By Patricia Belyea

TOKYO, JP  Yoko Saito has emerged as a global quilting leader with her quiet shades of taupe and fastidious attention to detail. If you want to see her at the International Great Quilt Festival in Tokyo this week, head to the Quilt Party booth. There you’ll find Yoko meticulously signing books for a long line-up of fans.

Yoko ambitiously presents a special exhibit each year at the Quilt Festival. For 2016, her group of students celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter with “The World of Peter Rabbit.”

The World of Peter Rabbit, Yoko Saito, Tokyo Great Quilt Festival

Beatrix Potter, one of the world’s best loved children’s authors, wrote and illustrated a total of 28 books. The low-volume palette in Beatrix’s illustrations translates well to Yoko’s philosophy of taupe in quilting.

The focal quilt for the exhibit was created by Yoko herself—centering on superstar Peter Rabbit and his friends:

The World of Peter Rabbit, Yoko Saito, Tokyo Great Quilt Festival

In the exhibit, a series of students’ quilts show illustrations from Beatrix’s Little Books transformed into exacting quilt reproductions:

The World of Peter Rabbit, Yoko Saito, Tokyo Great Quilt Festival

Original compositions and larger reproductions of illustrations take the level of difficulty up a few notches for Yoko’s more advanced students:

The World of Peter Rabbit, Yoko Saito, Tokyo Great Quilt Festival

In the center of the exhibit, The World of Peter Rabbit comes to life with an oversized tree trunk and a cast of miniature characters:

The World of Peter Rabbit, Yoko Saito, Tokyo Great Quilt Festival

It’s easy to be impressed with the creativity and dedication that produced this exhibit.

Before I left the Quilt Festival, I stopped by the Quilt Party booth. The line was short so I was quickly face-to-face with Yoko. What a polite and gentle woman. I bought Yoko’s most recent book and, like everyone else, I had her sign it.

If this was your 1000th autograph for the day, would it be so precise? That’s sums up Yoko Saito.

Yoko Saito's Latest Book

If you’re interested in purchasing English-translated editions of some of Yoko Saito’s books, please visit Stitch Publications +click here

If you’re thinking about visiting Japan, check out Okan Arts Japan Travel page for tips and recommendations +click here

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16 comments to “yoko saito : leader of taupeism”

  1. Sue Hunt says:

    Yoko Saito is always amazing. I love the sweet Peter Rabbit theme this year.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Sue—I have known about Yoko for years. This Festival it all clicked and I fell in love with her whole approach and incredible workmanship. Yoko’s always been amazing. I haven’t always gotten it! PB

  2. Carola S. De Pasuale says:

    Beautiful! Perfect !!! My daughters and I have been fan of Peter Rabbit for the longest time. It was their favorite bedtime story. Yoko Saito has a perfect sense of elegance and it is shown through this exhibit.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Carola—Yes, Yoko Saito nailed it with this choice of such a beloved subject and the execution of such remarkable quilts. PB

  3. Val Bond says:

    Wonderful beautiful work

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Val—The Japanese have a training system for quilting that is intense and rigorous. This is not the work of dilettantes! PB

  4. martha orr says:

    loved learning more about your quilt . It is just beautiful . You r very talented and patient . congratulation on completing it.

  5. Rafael Ruiz & Yoko Ishii says:

    Transmit the nature in artisan quilts is a wonderful art—The dedication..the time and expression are wonderful…to show any people and country in the world.–Congratulations to Mrs.Yoko Saito.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Rafael—Yes. The level of Mrs. Yoko Saito and her students’ work is definitely a result of tremendous dedication. PB

  6. Connie Ryle Neumann says:

    Thank you for giving us a peek at the quilted World of Peter Rabbit and a glimpse into the quilting life of Yoko Saito. These quilts were amazing in the details, capturing in thread what Beatrix portrayed with paintbrush.

  7. Beth Toffelmire says:

    Patricia, Thank you so much for sharing your experiences at the Tokyo Quilt Festival. I was absolutely thrilled to see some of the incredible quilts you captured in your photos and I am amazed by the “world of Peter Rabbit” works by Yoko Saito. This quilt Festival is going on my bucket list!
    I am so grateful that you shared this with us!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Beth—You will enjoy yourself when you go to Japan. It’s full of adventures that are great for us textile lovers. Best, P.

  8. Nancy Bourns says:

    I visited the big quilt show at the Tokyo Dome in January of 2016. You did a good job of capturing the essence of the show….how HUGE and fabulous it was!! I took a class from you at Cotton Patch in Lafayatte, CA. in 2014 (?)…Sincerely, Nancy Bourns 🙂

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Nancy–How great that you got to the Festival and saw all of this in person. I remember that fun day at Cotton Patch! PB

  9. kathy powell says:

    I love seeing taupe done but, I almost always use the design in brighter colors.
    Of course I now have a large collection of taupe so who knows?

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