Today was the main reason for coming to Tokyo at this time of year - the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival! It always clashes with a show I exhibit at in the UK, so I'd never actually visited this show before. I switched my UK shows around so I could come to Tokyo. It also made for a slightly more romantic birthday for Man, who spent her 40th with me at the Newark show last year. The quilt show is held at Tokyo Dome - the same venue as the food festival we visited the other day.
With the outbreak of the Chinese coronavirus looming, we were concerned about spending the day in such a huge crowd so bought face masks to wear. Many other people were wearing them, too. Before entering the dome we had a quick business meeting with a supplier over coffee, which went very well and we were shown lots of new products, some of which I think my customers will like.
There were huge queues but the lines moved very quickly and we were soon inside the dome. From the vantage point at the top of the stairs, we could see the show was very clearly laid out, with shopping stalls around three sides and the displays in the middle. We decided to look at the stalls first.
At the very first stall there were a few things we wanted to look at, and the stallholder spotted the bag we'd bought at the Ghibli museum. He showed us some almost identical webbing to the bag strap...sold! We bought a few other bits here and moved on.
To be honest there wasn't much that appealed to us and certainly none of the type of fabric that I sell, so I can see why many of my customers have told me they were disappointed after visiting the show armed with cash and expecting to buy Japan Crafts-type prints. There were lots of stalls selling used kimono fabric, though, so any boromono enthusiasts would have been in heaven.
We bought a few small things including one of these rather gorgeous sample books of various fabrics treated with persimmon juice to make them waterproof and give them a beautiful, aged patina. The owner told me he was based in Arashiyama, a district of Kyoto that I know quite well, so I made sure to say thank you in Kyoto dialect "ooki-ni", which made him laugh.
With a measly (but probably for the best) tote bag of purchases, we found a fat quarter of yellow fabric for the '50 shades of yellow' quilt we are going to make together, then moved on to the quilt displays.
The quilts were clearly grouped into themes, so it was easy to zero in on ones that appealed. This one by Kumiko Fujita was a joint favourite for us with its bold, fun design.
The overall show winner was stunning and I could have spent hours taking in all the details, but there were many other people who wanted to do the same so we waited our turn, Man took some photos and we moved on.
You are allowed to go out of the show and reenter by having your ticket and hand stamped, so we had a long sit down and late lunch at one of the restaurants around the outside of the dome. Delicious sushi in a private room. By the way, we didn't really have to sit on the floor - there is a 'cheat' footwell under the table!
One of the displays was a fabulous Nutcracker installation with quilts by Akane Sakamoto. After chatting for a while, she said she spoke English so we switched languages. Turns out she had studied embroidery at Hampton Court with the Embroiderers Guild for three years and she was keen to understand the political situation in the UK. When I gave her my business card, she said she follows me on Instagram! Small world.
Please enjoy the slide show of some of the other amazing work on display, and thank you to Man for taking all the wonderful pictures.
For dinner we had another busines meeting and were treated to a fancy meal near the dome. Upon hearing the word 'vegan', the manageress was specially assigned to us and wrote a menu for me by hand. She came back numerous times to discuss the food and we all shared many dishes together.
This cute shiba inu was parked outside the supermarket next to our hotel on the way back.
we are social
I started Japan Crafts in 2006 and have been bringing wonderful fabrics and techniques to people in the UK ever since.