Today I am writing to you from Tokyo, where I've spent the last few days at the quilt festival. One of the great things about attending quilt shows in other countries, is that it completely reshapes one's ideas about what is possible in this art and craft.
If you've ever seen the quilt show in Houston, you have probably noticed that the Japanese quilts really stand out. This is because they are intricately handmade, with points and details made to absolute perfection.
Here in Japan, in order to be a quilt teacher you must first pass a certification. Most quilters study with just one master teacher their entire life - not like in the US where we study with as many teachers as possible!
In the US we've been working to develop young quilters for several years, but in Japan the quilters are still overwhelmingly middle-age to elderly. It is a challenge to get all of these older ladies down the stairs of the baseball stadium, and onto the show floor which is on top of the baseball field! The show has over 35,000 attendees per day, with a total of 250K visitors in one week. And yes, it is crowded!
About 4 pm the crowds dissipate. I am told that all the ladies have to go home and make dinner for their husbands at this time! They stream out of the stadium by the thousands - headed back to the nearby train station.
I have been very fortunate to make several good friends here over the years. Thanks to them, I've been able to meet many of the artists. The most popular colors used in quilts here are muted and traditional colors: Indigo Blue, Taupe, and muted colors of Grey, Mauve, Sage, etc.
However there are several quilt artists who work in bright colors, often inspired by other cultures. One of my favorites is Fumiko Nakayama who specializes in Mola quilts. She has recreated The Tales of Genji in bright colors with the Mola reverse applique technique. Her work is mind-blowingly intricate, and she is unbelievably prolific.
Because most of the name cards here are only in Japanese, I have decided to paste in the image of the name card on my images this year. Please bear with me as I edit these quilts so credit is given where it is due. This striking quilt "Blue Jade" (200cm x 200cm) has the name written in Japanese characters, in the lower right corner of the image.
Tomorrow is the last day of the show, but I am going to Mt. Fuji tomorrow. I was able to rebook my flight off of the Dreamliner, and instead I am flying back via Hawaii to drop in on Paul's parents there for one night. I leave Tokyo Thursday night, and arrive in Honolulu early Thursday morning! (crossing the Date Line)
Watch for show photos on my photo page. Sayonara!