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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Blue & White : 2-9-2 Azabu Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-0045
Meguro Gajoen : 1-8-1 Shimomeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 153-0064