In the past, Molly & I have always spent our first day at the Tokyo show on the first Saturday of its run. However this year, due to other family plans, it worked out better for me to go to the show alone on Friday, opening day, where Molly would join me later. Unfortunately, I neglected (rather, was unable) to read the fine print on the ticket which noted that due to opening ceremonies, general admission would be delayed on Friday until 11:00 am. Which resulted in me standing in a long line outside of the Tokyo Dome for over an hour. Which wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been for the unrelenting sleet-snow mixture and gusty winds which blew my umbrella inside-out several times. Needless to say, by the time I entered the show, I looked like something the cat dragged in. And felt a little like it, too.
Suzuko Koseki & Kumiko Fujita
Nevertheless, I hit the ground running, wanting to make the most of my now reduced time at the show. As usual, I first headed to my two favorite vendors' booths, La Clochette and Keiko Goke's Wonderland, before viewing the show. After quickly picking through the new Koseki fabrics, I turned around to find Suzuko Koseki and Kumiko Fujita standing right there. How could these two smiling faces not be a good start to the day!
On Keiko Goke's recommendation, I headed to the featured artists' rooms after our visit. A popular annual exhibit at the festival, these rooms line a dedicated aisle which is always pretty crowded. Kathy Nakajima's room is often at the beginning, probably because it is always so lush and inviting...a total Hawaiian experience! She is a longtime Japanese quilting star, originally popularizing the classic Hawaiian applique style quilt, though it seems her work now has morphed into something a bit looser, though still rooted in the tradition.
Keiko Goke's room followed, its design based on a flower shop theme to showcase her many floral quilts. I have mixed reaction to these rooms. In this case, I think the format worked well. It's interesting to see an artist's quilts grouped together in one space, easier to see how her work develops along a theme, or within a certain time period.
I showed Goke's featured quilt, Sending the Bouquet for Heart of All, in a previous post. It was complemented beautifully by this smaller, exuberant piece.
The artists are scheduled to appear at their featured spaces throughout the show week and I happened by one time when Keiko was speaking to a large, hushed crowd. Although she spoke in Japanese, her heartfelt words didn't need translation.
Across the aisle was Fumiko Nakayama's room, featuring her gorgeous mola-style quilts. This is where I find the room concept very frustrating as a viewer. Understandably, there's roping keeping people from advancing into the space. But these quilts, however beautiful and striking from a distance, are so detailed that I want to see them UP CLOSE.
Fortunately, this quilt, which I showed in a previous post, was hung on a perpendicular wall close to the rope, allowing some scrutiny...and a quick photo.
Yoko Saito, of taupe quilt fame, has legions of fans around the world so it is no surprise that each year she is included in this exhibit. While it is interesting to see her vision in putting together the space, I think her work suffers the most from this format as it's almost impossible to see any details in her subtle work.
That quilt on the wall is completely hand appliqued and quilted. Pass the binoculars.
Quilters like Saito who design and make smaller, utilitarian pieces are able to integrate them into their rooms, however, showcasing a fuller range of work.
As in the Nakayama space, a small quilt was hung on the side wall of Saito's room, near the roping. Perhaps a nod to enquiring minds...or eyes.
Many know Junko Sawada's quilts for their whimsical style. Her quilts have been featured in all of the Tokyo shows I've attended and if you've viewed my past Flickr albums, you are probably well familiar with her work.
Tables full of fabric sweets and fruits dotted Sawada's room.
While most artists appear for scheduled talks or mingling with visitors, Shizuko Kuroha actually sits and sews in her space. Made from vintage Japanese fabrics, her beautiful quilts are difficult to appreciate fully from photos. Stunning is an understatement. She's also the author of numerous popular quilting books.
Kuroha's space was designed to replicate a traditional Japanese room. Here she's laughingly telling the crowd, "I don't really live like this!". I have seen Kuroha at each show I've attended and she's always smiling.
These quilters are all dedicated teachers who have an enormous amount of influence on the current state of Japanese quilting through their distinctive work, classes & books and, in some cases, even their fabric lines. While some would suggest that they have a vested interest in being accessible, in my limited experience, it seems that perhaps it is partially because of this open friendliness that they have achieved such success.
**I continue to edit and upload photos to the 2012 Tokyo show Flickr album. Still over a hundred more to go...but I've saved some of my favorites for the end!