Monday, 23 January 2017

Tokyo Great International Quilt Festival - part 1


We bumped into a lot of people we knew, and a lot of people I'd only met online before, while walking around the show.  Next time I'll have to make a name badge, so people know me (something Patricia Belyea did).  From left, Lynette Anderson, Jane MacDonald, Reiko Arita, me and Glyn.  We also bumped into Shiro from Euro Japan Links just a few minutes after arriving and met up with a Czech group who were visiting the show.  It feels like a small world!


We retreated to the stands to eat lunch.  Even quite early in the day, the bento lunchbox sellers around the top of the stands had sold out, so we were glad we had brought snacks.

The show is probably as busy as Festival of Quilts, but the aisles are wider around the traders, and the overall feeling is more spacious.  Because we are on top of the circular baseball pitch, it is difficult to get lost.

There are lots of stalls selling vintage Japanese fabrics.

Boro and kimono reform are a big thing at the show.

Naturally dyed sashiko threads.

We spotted this nice example of an old Yuza sashiko sorihikihappi and it went home with Jane the next day.

Tokyo Great International Quilt Festival - getting there

On Thursday, we were staying in Nippori, so our route to the Tokyo Dome was a bit easier than the previous year, when we stayed in Asakusa - a few stops on the Yamanote line, followed by the Chuo-Sobu line.  Suidobashi station is close to the Dome and was full of quilters.

 No need for directions - just look out for the quilted bags and follow them!

On the first day, the show opens at 11 a.m. rather than 9.30, and there are security bag checks, so it took half an hour to get to the front of the queue.

 We already had our tickets.

Once inside, we dodged the crowds by going around the outside of the exhibition area, towards the traders, and went round the quilts later on. This was different from our 2015 exhibition strategy and worked out better - and within minutes we had bumped into friends, Jane MacDonald of BeBeBold, Brisbane, and Lisa Walton.  Like all shows, people make a beeline for the quilts and the exhibition winners. 

Quilt photos soon!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Hiking in Kamakura

We decided to use the last day of our JR rail pass to visit Kamakura (please click the links throughout this blog post to read more about the city).  One of the difficulties with visiting Kamakura for just one day is deciding what to see.  Of course, we wanted to see the Great Buddha, but I had read online that you can pick up an English language free map at Kamakura station that has details of a hiking route that visits several temples, so we decided to do that. 

We set out thinking that we would visit the Great Buddha first but the map showed an interesting Inari Jinja nearby, so we headed towards that.  The route took us through a suburb with some rather nice houses, all individual builds (as is quite usual in Japan).

Sasuke Inari Jinja features many fox statues, as the fox is the messenger of the Inari kami (Shinto spirit), the god of rice, agriculture, industry and many other things.

Inari jinja are characterised by the avenues of torii gates leading up to the shrine.

Some of the torii were quite old.

There were many stone foxes alongside the steps leading to the shrine.

Above the shrine, there was a rather precarious scramble up to the hiking route.

I'm glad we were only going up and not down!

The route was quite uneven, with lots of tree roots to navigate and we needed to take care with every step.

There were several signposts along the route.

Fatsia Japonica growing wild in the forest.

We were rewarded with some stunning views across Kamakura towards the sea.

We spotted a sign for a tea room just off the route.

Right in the middle of the forest, there were terraces where we sat out and had cheesecake and apple pie, plus a beer to keep us going.  The weather was like Spring.


We reached the Kotoku-in temple by mid afternoon, where the Great Buddha is located.

You can go inside the statue, where the construction method is even more impressive.

On our way back to the station, we spotted a close relative of our Micra Mystique, although the paint was a little different.

Kamakura has some really attractive buildings.

There are also some interesting shops, although many were closed - we were visiting midweek, out of season and late in the afternoon by now.  I'd love to come back for a proper stay.

We were reminded many times of the low level in the city and the threat of tsunami.

It was my first visit to Kamakura, having missed out on the Yuza Board of Education's office trip in 1991, so I want to go again and see much more of it.