Quilt Show at Meguro Gajoen – Tokyo – June, 2016

I love happy accidents.

As June sweltered on, I had a few spare days in Tokyo to do as I pleased and wander about. Still working out the subway system, I took a few wrong turns and unexpected detours, but any excuse to stretch my legs or see a different part of Tokyo seemed fair.

After spending a pleasant afternoon hunting down Blue & White, Amy Katoh’s shop in Azabu Juban, Tokyo, I settled into the tiny shop and sifted through stacks of indigo this-and-that, picking out a few souvenirs. On my way out of the shop I found a flyer for a local quilt show. This is where good fortune took flight and led me on quite a journey.

The venue was the elegant Meguro Gajoen. Established in 1931, a time when the typical Tokyo resident enjoyed few luxuries, the original building was a fine restaurant. Subsequent additions included everything you’d need for a first-class wedding, including a banquet hall, gardens, guest rooms, salon, shrine, church, and photo studio.

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In 1988 part of the original building was torn down due to improvements made to the Meguro river, but the famous Stairway of 100 Steps and several adjoining rooms were preserved. In 2009 the Gajoen was recognized as a Cultural Asset of Japan.

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The main entry to the quilt show featured several long panels with seasonal designs. I ran around snapping photos like a crazy foreigner. Because I was.

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Check out those details! All hand stitched.
Check out those details! All hand stitched.

Inside the main gallery it was a “no photos allowed” venue, but I couldn’t resist at least a few along the way. It was also a “no shoes” venue, which wasn’t surprising but something I hadn’t counted on, having worn only sandals. On future trips I will remember to carry a pair of socks in my handbag. Seriously. Each room had tatami mats and it was a little awkward being the barefoot gaijin.

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In the 2nd room, “Gyosho-no-ma”, where the room must be kept at a stable humidity to prevent the wooden panels from cracking.

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This is the back of a quilt, but I liked it even more than the front… and it was easier to sneak a photo.

The quality and variety of the quilts amazed me, but the rooms were also filled with artwork of their own. Up the 100 Stairs I went, marveling at each of the seven rooms I entered.

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From the 6th room, “Kiyokata-no-ma”. Paintings by Kiyokata Kaburagi (1878-1972).
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Another by Kiyokata Kaburagi, this set was on the ceiling. I just stood and stared at it for a while. No one seemed to mind. Instead a few women smiled at me and nodded.
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In the 3rd room, “Sohkyu-no-ma”, the decor reflects the four seasons.
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I’ve lost my notes for this one and can’t remember which room it was found in. Still makes me smile.

If you have the opportunity to visit Meguro Gajoen for an event, I highly suggest you do. If you have visited it in the past, I’m sure you have some fond memories.

Visiting Tokyo?

Blue & White : 2-9-2 Azabu Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-0045

Meguro Gajoen : 1-8-1 Shimomeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 153-0064

 

3 Comments Add yours

  1. It is my dream to go to the Tokyo International Quilt Show. The photos from this quilt show are wonderful!

  2. Lyn says:

    Wow, wow, what a fantastic quilt show and the kimono quilt is simply amazing. What a wonderful opportunity you stumbled upon.

  3. I saw the ad for this exhibition before I head to Japan but I missed the timing to be in Tokyo!! Everything looks gorgeous there! You are very lucky!!

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