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Epic Japanese Quilt Show

"Flowers Of The Cosmos" by Fumiko Nakayama
“Flowers Of The Cosmos” by Fumiko Nakayama

Let me just say right up front that this quilt show exceeded expectations in every way. Something I really love about Japan is that Art-With-A-Captial-A is defined so generously, and artists whose work requires many years of mastering the technical parts of making it are not dismissed as “craftsmen” but given full respect. And when that happens, you get this level of mind-boggling!

So, first of all, it’s no surprise that any showcase of Japanese quilts is going to feature insanely fractal levels of piecing and stitching perfection.

I do not want to know how many hours this took. ("???" by ?? Tanaka)
I do not want to know how many hours this took. (“Countless Flowers Blooming” by Kazuko Tanaka)
And this. Uh, yeah. ("Jack In The Box" by Keiko Ike)
And this. Yeah. (“Jack In The Box” by Keiko Ike)
And did I mention this? ("???" by ?? Tanaka)
And did I mention this? (“Mother’s Favorite Winter Peonies” by Mineko Miyashita)

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are a few I thought you might enjoy, because they were especially Only In Japan delights.

This one is simple, but it not only has a super Japanese theme (those oddly compelling orange paper lantern thingies), it shows them in a very "autumn" way, with end-of-the-season, bug-eaten leaves.
This one is simple, but it not only has a super Japanese theme (those oddly compelling orange paper lantern thingies), it shows them in a very “autumn” way, with end-of-the-season, bug-eaten leaves. (“Silver Hammock” by Kumiko Morita)
This one takes the J-theme all the way, even using quilting patterns that are traditional washi paper and kimono motifs.
This one takes the J-theme all the way, even using quilting patterns that are traditional washi paper and kimono motifs. (“Distant Memory” by Kumiko Tada)
This design turns the usual "autumn" motifs into a fine piece of graphic goodness.
This one turns some typical “autumn” motifs into a slice of graphic goodness. Bonus points for the hand-dyed indigo bits. (“Soon The Wind Will Bring Winter” by Kumi Ohkawa)
And of course, there had to be cherry blossoms. On steroids.
And of course, there were cherry blossoms. On steroids. (“Cherry Blossoms” by Masako Sakagami)
This lovely manages to use traditional piecing, but the design and colors were gorgeously Not Your Usual Western Choices. ("Infinite" by Etsuko Ishitobi)
This lovely manages to use traditional piecing, but the design and colors were gorgeously Not Your Usual Western Choices. (“Infinite” by Etsuko Ishitobi)
And some of the subjects felt poignantly Japanese, and I was susprised when the artist wasn't. ("Garden Nasturtium" by Jungsun Jung)
Some of the subjects felt poignantly Japanese, and I was surprised when the artist wasn’t. (“Garden Nasturtium” by Jungsun Jung)
This super-Japanese forest landscape with higanbana really stopped me, because I've been to that place! ("??" by ??)
This Japanese forest landscape really stopped me in my tracks, because I RECOGNIZED it! I’ve been to that place! (“Sunbeams Between The Trees” by Hiroko Oouchi)
Speaking of landscape quilts, a few artists have pioneered completely new techniques of stitchery. This one is made of THOUSANDS of cloth snippets, quilted onto tulle, then sewed into a quilt. The photo really can't do it justice – IRL it was astoundingly painterly and quilt-y at the same time. ("??" by ??)
Speaking of landscape quilts, a few artists have pioneered completely new techniques of stitchery. This one is made of THOUSANDS of cloth snippets, in a sort of avant garde form of applique. The photo really can’t do it justice – IRL it was astoundingly painterly and quilt-y at the same time. (“The Street of Golden Leaves” by Keiko Kimura)
Others were amazing because all those pieces that look like printed fabric were actually...
Others were amazing because all those pieces that look like printed fabric were actually…
...hand-embroidered, using traditional Japanese sashiko techniques. O_O ("Flower Embroidery" by ??)
…hand-embroidered, using traditional Japanese sashiko techniques. O_O (“Kaleidoscope” by Hideko Onozaki)
This is what might happen if Escher had made quilts using Japanese maple and ginkgo leaves ("??" by ??)
This is what might happen if Escher had made quilts using Japanese maple and ginkgo leaves and carp (“Ultimate Autumn” by Reiko Nakahara)
("With Auntie" by Naoko ??
And yeah, I know they have cats outside of Japan but…cats. (“Tea With Mom” by Naoko Suzuki)

Don’t miss The Last Tea Bowl Thief!

“…an engaging read of choices—and second chances—that cross the centuries.” —Mandy Bartok, Uncovering Japan

In modern-day Tokyo, Robin Swann’s life has sputtered to a stop. She’s stuck in a dead-end job testing antiquities for an auction house, but her true love is poetry, not…read more

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

25 thoughts on “Epic Japanese Quilt Show Leave a comment

  1. Thanks, these are fabulous. I’ve seen some books of Japanese quilts and yeah, the insane piecing and stitching perfection is astonishing.

    • Oh oh oh, I’m so happy that other quilt lovers will get to see these! Thank you for sharing it! (And I just sent a FB message to you and Suzy, so you can give me the email addresses where you’d like the Dropbox invite sent, in case you’d like to see ALL the quilts I took pictures of. Warning: there are over a hundred. It was TORTURE picking only a few for the blog.)

      • Can you send the link to me. I can hardly wait to see them all. Only 100 pictures? I just went to the Dallas show and took a lot more than that! But the Japan quilts are beyond beyond….

      • Monica, HUGE apologies for being so slow to reply! ARG ARG ARG. I’m sending you the link right now, and I hope the gorgeousness of the quilts will make you forget how unforgivably tardy I was in sending them. (>_<;;)

  2. Can you share the Dropbox invite with me also! I want to see everything. In 2012 I went to this quilt show and I believe nothing else compares with it. The Japanese work is fantastic – and the people are wonderful.

    • I’d be delighted to share the dropbox with you! Will do that right away when I finish here. And I’m so envious you got to see this show in 2012 – this was my first time, but it definitely won’t be my last. Hard to believe this much fabulous quilting happens *every year*!

      And you’re so right about the people – while I was there, I met one of the artists who do that “impressionist confetti” style of quilting (like the yellow tree-lined street landscape quilt) and instead of jealously guarding her secret methods, she tempted me SEVERELY by telling me that she gives workshops. (Just what I need to move me to the next level of manuscript procrastination: a half-finished quilt beckoning from the next room AIEEEE!)

    • Thank you so much for sharing these with our fellow quilt lovers! I scampered over to your blog too, and found we have much in common (including our taste in food – I’d be on your doorstep for dinner every night if I weren’t so far away in Japan!) Loved reading about your steampunk event! ^_^

    • I’m so happy you could see them too!(^O^☆♪ The best part about writing a blog is meeting other people who love the same things I do. Thanks for visiting and enjoying the quilts with me!

  3. These are wonderful. I would love to see the rest of the quilts too. If you could share with me, it would be greatly appreciated.
    I’m an artist who has created a series of work in metal that i call my ‘quilts’. Some of them are on the webpage below.

    • Shoot, I wish I could share the photos with you, but this post is a couple of years old, and I took them out of my dropbox ages ago (>_<;;) Would love to see your work, though! Somehow the link didn't post here, though, so…pointers?

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