About 25 years ago I lived in Japan for a couple of years teaching English. I always wanted to go back one day to see my Japanese friends and revisit familiar places. One of the things also on my to-do list was to go to the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival which is always held in January each year. I took my 14 year old daughter with me so she could see a little bit of what had captured my heart all those years ago. We stayed at the Hotel Niwa which was a 5 minute walk from the Tokyo Dome where the festival is held.
I had a rough schedule of what we planned to do with nothing planned for the day after we got there. It seemed like a great opportunity to meet Alyce from Blossom Heart Quilts who lives in Tokyo. We met at Yuzawaya at Tsudanuma which was conveniently on the nearest train line. This store is like Spotlight or JoAnns, but different! Lots of cute Japanese fabrics, Yuwa, Echino and of course Liberty! I bought some Liberty for a dress and for an infinity scarf. It was almost a bit overwhelming...
|Lunch with Alyce at Sukiya post shopping!
Sarah and I bid our farewells then headed to the Tokyo Sea Life Park as an aquarium was on Sarah's to-do list. It was interesting to see all the different types of fish and they also had a penguin enclosure. However, the tanks were small and this did not sit well with me.
|Sarah at the entrance to the aquarium
We caught the train from there to Akihabara, the famed electronics town, although it seems to be more well known for its anime and maid cafes now. We were desperate for a cold drink so popped into a cafe. One of the things that is still pretty evident in Japan is the smoking in public areas and cafes. I remember when I lived there it seemed like everyone smoked and you could smoke anywhere. While now a lot of places are smoke free, there are still a lot of restaurants and cafes where patrons can smoke inside. We quickly headed out again as the smell of cigarette smoke was overpowering. This continued to be a pattern throughout our time there!
After a wander around we both felt the need for sushi...I many can't come to Japan and not have sushi! What I love about Japan is all the plastic food in the windows...it totally makes things easy when ordering.
We settled upon a modest looking place that seemed to be reasonable in its prices.
And then it was back to the hotel on the train as the next day was the day of the Quilt Festival. The train system is just so amazing in Japan. There are many different companies running lines all across the city and there's a train every few minutes. I discovered a fabulous site Hyperdia. You punch in where you want to go and your departing station and it brings up all the possible options with the cost and what platform the train will leave from. The best thing I did was have data on my phone, the Hyperdia app and Google maps! While we never braved the stations in rush hour I think Sarah was a little overwhelmed at the amount of people on the trains. It's hard to prepare someone for that when she lives in a town of 15,000 and our whole population is only 4 million!
Part 2...The Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival