A Visit to Japan - by Jan
I have just returned from a visit to the Tokyo Quilt Festival and I thought you would like to hear about it. I travelled with Japan Journeys who run this trip every year. We were a party of 15, plus one American lady who joined us in Tokyo. Our tour leader was David, a young man aged 29. He had a Japanese mother so spoke the language and did not seem fazed to be in charge of mostly elderly ladies. We stayed at the Tokyo Dome Hotel, a short walk from the Tokyo Dome, where the Festival was held. Our room was on the 16th floor, giving us a view of the Dome below us and the winter illuminations which were quite spectacular. The first day was spent at the Festival. The Dome is a baseball stadium with tiers of seats leading down to floor level where the quilts and stalls were to be found. The stalls sold a variety of items - kits, notions, clothes, traditional Japanese items but not so much material as you might expect. Bags seemed to be most popular and there were many beautiful kits available.
The quilts on display were stunning. There was a large section for bags but no wearable items. There were one or two displays from professional quilters. A display called "Little House on the Prairie " featured items from the opening up of the West in America. A display around the outside of the arena showed group quilts. These were standard sized squares each made by one person and then put together to make uniform sized quilts. The theme seemed to be food as some were different types of ice cream sundae, others were cakes etc. There was so much to take in and we were still a bit jet-lagged. We had the opportunity to spend another day at the festival but my friend and I decided to take in some sightseeing.
The rest of the holiday consisted of sightseeing shopping and workshops. We spent 5 nights in Tokyo. We paid a visit to Fabric Town. As the fabric was about £2.80 per metre we bought as much as we could. We bought some things in the 100 yen shop (175 yen to the pound), and visited another shop with masses of haberdashery. I managed to find some things unavailable elsewhere.
After Tokyo we took the bullet train to Kyoto with a wonderful view of Mount Fuji on the way. Here was more of the same. Temples, shrines and shopping. We visited the handicraft museum which was mind-blowing. The Japanese are so precise and careful with their crafts and there were craftsmen there showing off their skills. We did some shibori dyeing, watched a kimono fashion show, made a stencilled handkerchief, and visited a traditional Japanese home. We had booked an optional tour to Hiroshima by bullet train. This was very moving and understandably there is a very big peace movement there.
This was an excellent tour and is run by Japan Journeys every year. I would recommend it highly.