Greetings from Tokyo!
I've just arrived in my room at the Tokyo Dome Hotel on Saturday night, and Sunday I'll be at the Tokyo Quilt Festival walking the show and taking photos.
I know many of you are anxious to see photos of this year's beautiful Japanese quilts, so I'll get those posted on my photo page as soon as possible!
As you may recall, last year I had a quick 3 day trip to Tokyo planned, and I was going to visit the coastal community devastated by the tsunami, which received our 2155 quilts. However my 3 day trip turned into only 2 days in Japan, because of a freak snowstorm in Seattle. This time, I am happy to report, there were no delays and I caught my connection across the Pacific with time to spare. I will be meeting with some residents who lost their homes in the tsunami, and hopefully getting an update about how the community is doing now.
Originally I used my miles to book a round trip ticket on an ANA Dreamliner. 2 weeks ago I decided to rebook my outbound flight on something besides a 787. Yesterday at the airport in Denver, I decided to change my return flight also, since the Dreamliner woes don't seem to have any end in sight. On my international flight today, I sat next to a Boeing employee and we agreed that we were glad we weren't booked on a 787!
When I checked in at the hotel here, I had preview copies of the 2 show books waiting at the front desk. I have several quilts picked out from the books, that I'll be looking for tomorrow! The show opened 2 days ago, and there was a pleasant buzz of excitement in the lobby tonight. (The Tokyo Dome Hotel is adjacent to the Tokyo Dome where the show is held - a baseball stadium that sees 250,000 visitors to this awesome show!)
Every year I meet up with my Japanese friend, and she arranges for me to see a private showing of antique "boro" quilts. These are the 50-100 year old peasant quilts that were dyed with the indigo plant, with yarn-dyed shima or ikats, and Katazome stenciled motifs, often made from old Noragi work clothes, and sometimes stuffed with hemp straw instead of batting. They were loosely stitched with thick floss to hold the 3 layers together - the precursor to today's fancy sashiko stitching.
The Japanese quilters collect antique indigo fabrics and vintage silk kimonos, then cut and stitch them into contemporary quilts with a distinctive style that is immediately recognizable as Japanese quilting!
The day before I left, my neighbor and her quilter friend came to my door with the first memorial quilt for Sandy Hook Elementary. I told them to get their group together and we'll take a group photo with the quilt. If your group is interested in participating, check out our Piecing for Peace page.
We are up to 1323 quilts for Hurricane Sandy survivors, but it is COLD this weekend, and if you are following this story you know things are only getting worse for those who lost possessions and/or homes in the storm. If you are wondering if we are still accepting quilts for this project, the answer is YES!... Thank you!!!
p.s. the photo above is of the quilt and textile artist Keiko Goke (whose fabrics we carry at eQuilter) in her exhibit about the tsunami. Keiko had a house in Sendai but from what I can understand, because the community was wiped out 2 years ago, her house became uninhabitable. She is holding a photo of one of the memorials on the coast - with tiny pinwheels - and a beautiful poem which I will have translated for you soon.