Friday, 25 September 2009

Free style with Bittersweet vine

Arrangement with my teacher's container
Material. 2 aspidistra leaves, 2 cosmos flowers and 2 branches of bittersweet vine*

My ikebana lesson this Friday was after a busy week including a long day in Tokyo on Thursday. I heard a lecture entitled “From the waters of the mountain to landscape” by Mr Augustin Berque who received the Fukuoka prize of 2009. He explained the word Shanshui, as it is pronounced in Chinese, in Japanese it is pronounced Sansui, which is a combination of two Chinese character meaning Mountain and water and was first used as a combination on the 3 day of the 3rd month in the year 353 in the 40 poems written in the Orchid Pavilion.

This talk dealt with the beginning of appreciating landscape and how this has affected our way of living now.

At the moment I am reading the book written by Ken Follet “The Pillars of the Earth”. In the past living in a city is where civilised people lived with a wall surrounding their city. Outside were the outlaws.

Once landscape was appreciated houses, castles and estates were built with a “view” or surrounded by landscape gardens to improve the view. Landscape ikebana is one step further by bringing the view into the house or “tokonoma”, the special alcove in a Japanese house where one displays objects of art and flower arrangements.

Back to my lesson, my teacher had a choice for us of either doing an arrangement in a basket with autumn flowers and plants, a rimpa arrangement or a free style.

I usually would have opted for one of the first two, but wanted to relax so I did the free style.

At home I used another container, a present from Mrs.K, Professor K’s wife.

Same material in a different vase, at home.

Nowadays we are free to live where we like. We can live in the suburb to enjoy the landscape. In the lecture the role of the use of the car to seek the landscape and thereby unwittingly destroying it was an interesting point.


Side view

* Bittersweet vine, Ilex, is not popular as it can destroy trees.

Are we the same as bittersweet vine ?


References: Orchid Pavilion

Mr. Augustin Berque:

Friday, 18 September 2009


To answer my friend's question to why I called my blog cyclamen.
Cyclamen is maybe the second flower I loved. It meant picnics under olive trees in Lebanon and us children (at that time) picking cyclamen flowers that grew wild and smelt so good.
It does not seem to be a very popular flower used in ikebana. I have used it for my arrangement during the Ikebana International world convention in 2006 and also as in the picture of my blog.
During the world convention, I had no time to take a picture myself as I was very busy.
Then I used white cyclamen that looked like butterflies to me.
Here are pictures of my other arrangement during the autumn festival celebrating the 10th anniversary of Morinosato citizen's hall, last autumn 2008.
The container is a small rectangular flat container.

On the right side is a stone with moss on it.
Material: Pine, Japanese Pieris, Sasa bamboo, cyclamen flowers and leaves, moss.

I just love these delicate flowers as well as the heart shaped leaves.
Nowadays there are many bigger varieties, but I always like the small one with the soft fragrance.

One of the larger potted plants with one very interesting 2 toned flower.

Cyclamen planted under bamboo

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Happy Birthday this Monday

Happy Birthday Professor K. I remember the day you asked me if I would like to go to a Japanese flower arranging lesson.
Your secretary was happy to accompany me and translate for me. I had just arrived in Japan and was surprised that such an eminent Professor would even bother to ask a young researcher like me.

So thanks to you, I had my first ikebana lesson that Friday afternoon. On Monday morning after the departmental meeting your secretary asked me to go to your office. You had something to tell me. I was quite worried.

There you were standing at the door and then proceeded to demonstrate the proper way to take off one’s shoes before going into a Japanese house. Also, never to put my feet on the ground where the shoes are and then ….I was stifling a giggle of relief and disbelief.

This was over 30 years ago and I still go to my ikebana lesson on Friday afternoon.

Thank you Professor and happy birthday for this Monday.

My ikebana arrangement at the 30th anniversary exhibition of the Ohara School Machida Chapter. A 2 liter bottle to indicate the size.

My arrangement in the middle seen with others in the corner for natural arrangements.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Ohara School, a brief introduction 2.

In the last blog I wrote a brief introduction to the Ohara School.
I had two questions: one from a friend asking what I meant by styles showing water.
The other question was in the comments about Houn Ohara's exhibition after World War II.

To answer the first question, in the past ikebana arrangements were made in copper container or other vases in an upright style. With moribana in a shallow container a larger surface of water can be seen.

Rabbit ear iris, pinks and St. John's wort with the water surface showing
At a workshop on the 14th of June 2009.

So as was said before the 1st Headmaster of the Ohara School, Unshin Ohara introduced the moribana style.
The second Headmaster Koun gave lessons in a classroom using a blackboard to explain. He also had a radio program. He introduced many innovative ways of teaching.
Now, to answer the second question, the third Headmaster Houn made a big arrangement in the show window of Daimaru department store in 1945, just after the end of the World War II. It was with the back ground of the painter Kakuzo Inoue. The material was a fig tree charred from the war, upside down with the roots at the top and with red flowers. The arrangement was significant by giving hope and lifting up the spirit of those who saw it.
His student Mrs. Ellen Gordon Allen received her certificate in 1951. After leaving Japan, she came back and founded Ikebana International in 1956.
Houn Ohara was good friends with other flower masters, especially the Headmaster of the Sogetsu School.
One way of securing flowers in a shallow container is by using a pin holder (kenzan), another way can be done using a holder called shippo.

Rabbit ear iris and cow lilly

Closer view of the shippo holders