2015 Japan Tour Overview
Tentative Dates: January 22–February 3, 2015
Quilters’ Express to Japan (QETJ) is owned and operated solely by Susan Ball Faeder, and combines her two passions: textiles and Japan. The January 2015 offering is Susan’s 23rd Textile Tour of Japan since the creation of the business in 1988. Although there are many shopping opportunities on QETJ tours, the true aim is an educational one: to gain an in-depth cultural perspective of Japan through the beauty and history of its indigenous textiles and fabrication methods, both past and present. The January 2015 tour is a “tried and true” repeat of six near-identical January tours over past ten years.
For many, the highlight of the January tour is attending The Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival. Running across ten days, and with over 30,000 visitors on any given day, it is the largest quilt show in the world. Tour participants will have a remarkable opportunity to experience a cross-section of Japanese quiltmaking, time to view quilt exhibits, and time to make purchases. Join Susan for her talk, “The Development of Quilting in Japan,” meet some of Japan’s top sensei, and consider how the Japanese quilting world is like ours—and not!?
Across the 13-day Japan tour, we will visit five cities. Our introduction to Tokyo begins with morning sightseeing in Asakusa, strolling around the lovely Sensoji Temple grounds, and wandering the arcade shops filled with crafts and souvenirs of Old Edo. In the afternoon, visit a local museum to view (and touch!) vintage indigo clothing woven by northern farmers. Another day is spent exploring one of Tokyo’s more delightfully international neighborhoods, Azabu, including a stop for purchasing Japanese hand-stenciled blue and white yukata cotton fabric. Meet shop owner, author, and textile collector, Amy Katoh.
On the way to Kyoto, we have two stops. The first destination is Kawaguchi, a picturesque lake town located near the base of Mt. Fuji, where we’ll visit the Kubota Kimono Museum. Your knees will bend when you step into the gallery to view the extraordinary kimono made in the elaborate tsujigahana method. Second day en route, we’ll stop at Arimatsu, designated by the Shogun over 400 years ago—and still holding true today—as THE location for tie-dyed kimono fabric in Japan.
The last four days of the tour are devoted to Kyoto, still the aesthetic, cultural hub of Japan. A proper introduction to the old capital begins with morning sightseeing at three important temples. In the afternoon, we’ll browse the myriad of ceramic treasures in the dozens of little shops lining Kiyomizu streets. While in Kyoto, we will experience a hands-on workshop in the Kyoto-style of fabrication known as Yuzen Stencil Dye Painting, and visit the private studio of a world-class Japanese indigo dyer. Finally, on our last full day in Kyoto, we will participate in the celebration of SETSUBUN at a small local temple, to welcome spring with costume parade, religious fanfare, and purification rites.
*Important Good News: The NHK quilt show committee has now guaranteed that the next quilt event WILL definitely take place in 2015. However, the exact dates for the event are not known, and are NEVER formally announced until about six months before prior, i.e. sometime in July 2014. Therefore, the above dates of Jan. 22–Feb. 3, 2015 are TENTATIVE and based on previous years. Please do NOT make any flight reservations on your own until you hear from us that the trip is a GO and the dates are firm.
Feel free to email or call Susan at her home office at (570) 522-7480 with questions pertaining to the tour or travel in Japan. Susan takes a personal interest in each person’s needs and expectations, and is ALWAYS happy to share information with participants. Once the group has formed, participants will receive a series of emails from QETJ with information about weather, clothing, money, customs, etc., and a list of websites with hotel and contact information as well as a packet of tourist information and maps.