Journeys in Japan – Tokyo Quilt Festival

As part of my whirlwind of quilt shows this year, I am currently in Japan for the Tokyo Quilt Festival.

Glen and I have been using the subway and train to get around the city of Tokyo and its suburbs. It took a couple of days but I think we have finally become competent enough in reading the maps and signs to make it around the city without getting hopelessly lost.

If you are coming to Tokyo, you will need to get maps for the Tokyo subway and the JR (Japan Rail) lines. We found that it took a combination of the two to get to the places we needed to get to. You also need to pay attention to which way you need to come out of the station – north, south, east or west. It makes all the difference, certainly somewhat of a challenge at times!

Well, even before going to the Tokyo Quilt Festival, we participated in a little fabric and yarn shopping. I wanted to focus on Japanese yarn and fabric but I really had little idea of the scope there would be. Only a fraction of what is produced, gets to Australia!
ready for fabric shopping

Ready for fabric shopping

The first store we visited was the Yuzawaya in Ginza. This store is closing down so there were some excellent specials available (which I felt compelled to take advantage of). There are Yuzawayas all over Japan. They carry fabric, yarn and all of the sewing notions you can think of.

Here are some of my Yuzawaya selections:

japanese fabric selection 1
The next stop was Okadaya in Shinjuku. OMG! Six stories of crafting bliss! The bottom floor had all the cotton fabric. The Japanese produce lovely linens. Here is a bit of what I purchased:
japanese fabric selection 2
The real thrill though, comes from a visit to “fabric town”, where the selection is terrific and the prices are low.

As many websites will tell you, Tomato’s is the place to go. There are other smaller places which are also well worth visiting, but Tomato is the biggest and most popular. It is in the Nippori district of Tokyo (easily accessed by the JR Yamanote line). Tomato has 5 floors of fabric in the cotton and linen store, but, they also have 3 other stores covering different types of fabric! Amazing!

Map of Nippori fabric town shopshere

Nippori fabric town

Nippori fabric town

Tomato fabric shop

Tomato fabric shop

I love the Japanese linens and cottons, I couldn’t resist, and here are some of my purchases from Tomato.
japanese fabric selection 3
Now to the quilt show… The show takes place in a covered baseball stadium, the Tokyo Dome. Women stream down the rows of seats to get to the field (covered in flooring) where all the quilts and vendor stalls are located. Unfortunately, the first thing that you notice are the crowds. Crowds and crowds of women! My “significant other” thought it looked like descending into a cauldron of women.
Tokyo Quilt Show
The crowds made it a little difficult to get around to the quilts and the vendors but we persevered. At times it was difficult to photograph full length pictures of the quilts.
Lunch at the Tokyo quilt show

The work in the quilts is exquisite. Japanese quilters are masters of handwork and most of the quilts were hand quilted. It appears that the long arm craze has not arrived in Japan. Here are a few of my favourite quilts.

The Tokyo Quilt Festival is not an international show, more a great exhibition of the very best in Japanese quilting. I really liked this show, the standard if quilting is superb. Visiting Tokyo is a rewarding experience. Tokyo is very safe for visitors, great food, very friendly people, the train system is remarkably efficient. Attending this quilt show is very achievable.


Posted by Leslie

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