In January, 2007, I was lucky enough to go to Hong Kong for the Toy Show and on our way back, we stopped in Japan. Someone commented (in Japanese) on my colorful clothing and handed me a paper announcing the International Quilt Show in Tokyo. If she hadn’t made this approach, I would have missed this great event.

I spent an entire day there, taking pictures of the crowds, the quilts and the booths. I’m going to share some of my favorites with you.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. The quilts and work range from extremely intricate and traditional to wild and contemporary.

Tokyo Quilt Show, from traditional to contemporary


So much to take in. Art quilts from abstract to figurative to these extremely fine traditional kimonos were on display. These carefully dyed kimonos were very finely embroidered with fine silk threads and metallic threads.

I walked my buns off and spent from about 10 till 4 there, meeting people, taking pictures, buying only a very few things in spite of all the tempting offerings.

Martial arts fighter made of postage sized squares

This large quilt was made up of tiny postage size squares to create this large figure on martial arts fighter.

Even the money is beautiful in Japan so I snapped the money drawer too.

Subtle fabric shifts in Japanese quilts
I am not a traditional quilter by any means but I used to go to International Quilt Market every year with my Pavelka Design sewing patterns and I was certainly exposed to the full range of quilt things on the market from about 1993 – 2000.

The thing that really struck me about the majority of quilts at the Tokyo Quilt Show can be illustrated in the quilts in this post. As the pattern spreads across the quilt, a subtle range of fabrics are explored creating a very subtle or lively shimmering surface.

It seems that I see less of this in North American quilts, but I’m sure I have only seen a tiny amount of what’s out there. It just seems that I more often see a quilt of the same block repeated in same fabric over here and really at the Tokyo Show, I don’t recall seeing any that stayed true to one block repeating without this subtle shift in fabric prints being explored. Not that one approach is better than another, but this difference just struck me quite strongly when I was there.

Chunky hand quilting gives great bite to art quilt

One of my favorites. I love this thick cotton and the chunky hand quilting with what looks like crochet cotton. I love the randomness and sharp contrasts of this art quilt.

If you’re just finding this blog now, I pretty much stumbled across the International Tokyo quilt Show when I was in Tokyo on a business trip in January 2007. Having a big background in textile arts, I was thrilled to be able to spend the entire day there on my own and left my husband to his own devices. He had fun too doing something else but did not tag along and slow me down at all. It’s nice not to have to be stuck at the hip when travelling.

Gosh, you’ll only ever be there on that day once so go for it if you can! Just meet up later and share your days adventures over some local evening snacks. Don’t forget your camera!

There were some ordinary quilts… but I didn’t take pictures of those ones
There were even some ordinary quilts at the Tokyo Quilt show… but I didn’t take pictures of those ones…

From traditional… to hipster!

Standing panels in finely matched fabrics. This is the artist but I have since lost her name. These were very large textile installation pieces, very sophisticated.

Kimonos are worn by many women, young and old, in Tokyo. This young woman pulled off a pretty hip and colorful style with hers.

What a fabulous day it was, swoon…….

Published on: May 21, 2010

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