Tokyo International Quilt Festival 2019 PART TWO: Just Beautiful

It was so hard to choose only a few quilts to feature from the embarrassment of riches at this year’s Tokyo International Quilt Festival, but here are some of the overall stunners, and a couple that had details to die for.

You can see why this piece won the 2018 Machine Quilting Award…

“Life IV” by Noriko Misawa

Here’s a closer look . Yow.

There weren’t as many “photographic” quilts this year, but I thought this one was pretty wonderful.

“Girls in the Holy River” by Emiko Ōsawa

It’s hard to see in photos, but this quilt was accented with sparkly sequins and beads

There also weren’t as many illustration-style quilts, but this one made up for the lack of quantity by over-the-top quality. Look at the border – even the binding looks like melting chocolate!

“A Chocolate Factory” by Osami Gonohe

And this one. Are you surprised that the artist is an 18-year-old guy? Love the use of fake fur for the hat and mittens.

“I Like” by Leon Kawasaki

There were a number of quilts made with traditional patterns, but very untraditional colors. Isn’t it amazing how different this floral pattern looks with a dark background, rather than the usual white?

“Roses in the Park in my Hometown” by Toyoko Nakajima

And this waterlily quilt just killed me, with its deep watery blue ground:

“Soon the Rainy Season Will Be Over” by Shoko Matsumura

There weren’t many “whimsical” quilts this year either, but the quality was super high…

“Forest of Blessings” by Chieko Akada

“Heart Series VIIII” by Keiko Goke

You can see through the round appliques to the background of this firefly-themed piece, which depicts the lightning bugs as circles of light

“Fireflies” by Shoko Harada

Here’s a close-up of one of the “fireflies”

This quilt took first place in the “Japanese” theme category. At first, it seems like a strange choice because it doesn’t exhibit insanely skilled traditional quilting chops like the other entries. What it does show in spades is the long rural history of reusing “boro-boro” rags to make things of beauty, and how raw edges and random shapes and imperfection can come together to make something that can be lovelier (in a different way) than those that are meticulously planned and executed.

“To Mom” by

Here’s a detail showing the unusual construction

In contrast, this gorgeous thing placed second among the “Japanese” themed quilts. Check out the fabulous use of Hawaiian quilting techniques for the snowflakes.

“Snow Falling on Our Mountain” by Mayumi Mochizuki

I really enjoyed how this next quilt deconstructs a traditional rose motif, unspooling it and playing with scale and orientation. And look how she has “pixellated” some of the elements:

“Sleeping Woods” by Izumi Okazaki

This is one of the most inventive “autumn” themed quilts I’ve seen, focusing on what happens after the leaves fall. The skeletal ones are composed of hand-appliqued fabric ribs and endless embroidery.

“Fallen Leaves”by Chiyoko Takayama

This landscape piece makes use of eyelet pieces for the background and selected lace appliques to suggest the delicate patterns of hoarfrost. Nice use of a fabric seldom used in quilting!

“Hoarfrost on the Tree” by TaeHwa Kweon

A close-up of the pieced eyelet background and the lace appliques

There were a couple of quilts in this show that were masterpieces of stitching rather than piecing. This landscape was handpainted, then intricately quilted, using thread colors to create subtleties of light and shadow.

“Yu Shan Rhododendrons in the Morning” by Yu Chen Liang

Detail, showing the use of thread color and pattern to enhance the texture of various elements

This next one was made from vintage kimono pieces and quilted in traditional Japanese washi paper patterns. The colors are a typical Edo-era combination, often found in kimonos of that time. A dyer who is trying to recreate the lost dyeing techniques of that time once explained to me that these are the colors that Japanese people look best wearing.

“Connecting” by Sakai Suzuki

This next one is a tour de force of optical art. The farther away you stand, the more organized the pattern looks. Up close, it seems to be a pleasing, random patchwork of Japanese indigo patterns. Step away a little farther, and you notice the diagonal squares and the “basket weave” created by alternating similar patterns and colors. And from across the room, the central square swims into glorious focus.

“Releasing” by Etsuko Misaka

There were a lot of delightful quilts in the group piecing competition. This year, the theme was “houses.”

I loved that each artist who contributed a square to this one made it a “dog house.”

There was also a fun display of 3-D quilted houses by well-known quilter Suzuko Koseki.

“Spring” by Suzuko Koseki

And finally, THIS. It was hard to get a photo of the entire thing (which was enormous), because it was mobbed by people with their noses right up to the quilt, who couldn’t quite believe that every strand of the latticework is hand-appliqued and every border crest hand-embroidered.

“The Kumiko Suite” by Keiko Morihiro

View it and weep.

In case you missed it, Part One (amazing quilts from this same show, with Japanese designs) is here. And just for comparison, here are the pieces I posted a couple of years ago, from the 2016 Tokyo International Quilt Festival.

And arg, if I put up all the beautiful pieces I took pictures of, this would be the Only Quilts blog, not Only In Japan. But if you’d like to see the outtakes, I’ll put them up in my Dropbox and temporarily post my personal email in the comments. If you’d like to see the rest, send me your email address and I’ll send you an invite!

When not swooning over quilts, Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo.

“A genuinely gripping crime thriller which wrong-foots and perplexes the reader throughout, drawing us in emotionally . . . Highly recommended.” Raven Crime Reads

Nine years. Nine death anniversaries. Tomorrow will be the tenth. When Detective Kenji Nakamura’s phone rings with the news that his mother’s death wasn’t an accident, his life begins to unravel…read more