Saturday, 24 October 2009

Self Expression

If someone does an ikebana arrangement it is a sort of self expression. An ikebana arrangement mirrors not only the person's character but the current mood.
In previous blogs entitled rock and roll, martial arts and ikebana, examples were given of one headmaster using rock and roll in combination with ikebana, and the other martial art movements in ikebana. Some schools will have music accompanying the master arranging, sometimes it may be very traditional Japanese music like koto, soft background music or a pianist on a grand piano playing classical music, poetry and calligraphy are also used to accompany ikebana.

Whatever helps and enhances someone's imagination and concentration.

When I see something, it gives me an idea to do an ikebana arrangement. For example after seeing windows in Chinese gardens it has always inspired me to make such an arrangement.
The window below is in the Summer Palace near Beijin with a window that has two different paintings on two panes of parallel glass. One painting is on the front glass and the other one on the back glass, framed by the same window and with a view on the lake.(see below)

My arrangement above for the 50th anniversary of Atsugi Kado Kyokai (Ikebana Association of Atsugi) was inspired by the windows in Chinese Gardens. I used a bamboo writing brush holder to hang a small bamboo basket with and arrangement.
In front was another arrangement with the same yellow butterfly orchids and cycad leaves in a glass bowl. The hanging basket also had green necklace and the glass bowl in the front Euphorbia milii better known as "Crown of thorns".
Flower holder: To hold the flowers in the transparent glass bowl, a glass artist, Mr. Murayama made from sahara sand a flower holder. The sahara glass becomes a beautiful pale green when turned into glass. Another window into the past of the desert when it was green.
A window in the Summer Palace

A window in the Chinese garden in the middle of Naha city, carved in the window are peonies.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Japanese Garden

Ancient Garden 8th-11th Century

This is what is written at the entrance of the Japanese Garden in Expoland in Osaka.
"Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden was originally constructed as an exhibit by the Japanese Government at the Japan World Exposition, 1970.
The Garden has an area of 26ha in a long, narrow shape, stretching 1,300 meters from east to west and 200 meters from north to south. It is slightly inclined from east to west. Taking advantage of this topographical feature, the Garden design takes as its main motif a stream running eastwards from a spring on the western edge of the Garden.
The concept of the Garden follows the theme of Expo '70, "Progress and Harmony for Mankind," with the stream symbolizing human progress and the passage of time. Japanese garden styles and techniques representative of each era, from ancient times to the present, are arranged chronologically from west to east along the stream. More than a showcase of gardens of various periods, the garden as a whole constitutes a unified garden with a contemporary touch.
The Garden is comprised of four sections an ancient garden section at the uppermost reaches of the stream on the western edge, a medieval garden garden in the middle reaches, a modern garden in the lower reaches in the mountainous area, and a contemporary garden at the lowermost reaches of the stream on the eastern edge, combining the tradition of the three other gardens with features of the present-day Japanese garden, which will carried over into the future"
Ancien garden 8th -11th century
Medieval garden 12th-13th century and 14th -16th century
Modern garden 17th-19th century

Medieval garden

Monday, 19 October 2009

Rock and Roll, Martial arts and ikebana 2

The old schools or Koryu schools of ikebana are connected to martial arts.
October in Kenzoji temple in Kita-Kamakura, Ikebana International Kamakura chapter held their meeting. First there was a demonstration in the hall in front of the altar.
The young headmaster, who came from Kyoto, followed the steps of his father and grand father.
A very slight young man but with a lot of force in his dramatic movements during his ikebana performance which can be compared to an exercise in sword fighting. I can imagine young samurais after battle trying to relax by bending flowering branches of cherry blossoms. One slightly slashing a branch closing his eyes and raising the branch above his eyes close to his forehead and with a determine gesture bends a branch.
This is what I was actually seeing, but the samurai was a modern young man with a diamond stud in one ear and a fashionable belt with his sharp ikebana scissors in lieu of a samurai sword.
Everyone was silently watching.
At the end pictures were allowed.

Autumn tinted leaves of a classical arrangement of heaven, earth and man in a diamond shaped bronze container with legs.

Modern arrangement in a black rectangular container.
Material: Iris leaves and antherium flowers

The arrangement below depicts the dragon painting on the ceiling of one of the biggest wooden buildings in Japan, Kenchoji temple

Rock and Roll, Martial arts and ikebana

The title rock and roll, martial arts and ikebana, do they have a common factor?
You might think they have nothing to do with each other.
In September Ikebana International Tokyo Founding Chapter had their first event and the headmaster was following his mother so it was the second generation of the school.
He showed us how his first memories of being taught ikebana he would split an aspidistra leaf.
The second arrangement using a Chinese cabbage was very pretty, however I am not sure I would like to have it hanging around my house for too long.
Then cutting Monstera leaves and arranging them with equinox flowers (higanbana) a pink flower that grows next to rice fields when the rice is ready to be harvested.

Monstera leaves with amaryllis flowers arranged in clear square containers. The 1st headmistress of the school in the background.
Several arrangements followed with at the end some of the students performing and the main singer whose ikebana name includes the word "rock", to reflect his role as a rock and roll artist.

The present headmaster working with background music from a rock band.

I was really surprised that such music could fit the mood of ikebana, but incredibly it did and it was an enjoyable experience everyone walked off with a lighter step, still mentally dancing to the music.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Ohara School, Machida Chapter's 30th anniversary

Here are links to pictures of the preparation and various steps behind the scenes of the anniversary preparations which was held in July.
The first day was preparation of two rooms in a hotel. A special group of people came to set up the rooms

Final preparation on the morning of the opening day
Final day and cleaning up

Another Ohara School chapter was celebrating their 30th anniversary in Tachikawa in Tokyo and I went to see it. Some of the container were the same as the ones we had in the Machida Chapter exhibition as the containers are on load from the Ohara School.
Both Chapter presidents are students of Professor Kudo.

Saturday, 10 October 2009


Hiroki Ohara, the present and fifth headmaster of the Ohara School had this huge seasonal arrangement in a basket at the Takashimaya Department store in Shinjuku, Tokyo, during the yearly exhibition of the Ohara School Tokyo Chapter.
The first moribana exhibition was in 1897 and in 1912 the Ohara School was established by Unshin Ohara. He was succeeded in 1916 by his son Koun who developed teaching techniques for moribana.
Houn Ohara the third headmaster took over from his father in 1938 and under his leadership the school became internationally known.
His famous ikebana exhibit in September 1945 just after the end of the war was followed in November of 1945 by a joint exhibition with the Sogetsu headmaster in Kobe.
Houn's son Natsuki was born in 1949, he became headmaster designate in 1972 but unfortunately passed away in 1992. His legacy to the school is the very elegant style of Hanamai or "flower dance", and Hana-isho a style that is suitable for contemporary houses.
At this month's exhibition in October it was interesting to see the use of modern furniture and artwork from many countries as a backdrop to the Hana-isho exhibits. In the same way as I learnt many things from Japanese flower arranging concerning what can be used in combination with what and what should be displayed at a certain season, the same can be applied for other cultures and these new styles will encourage cultural exchange and mutual understanding for the coming generations.
By exporting ikebana, interesting containers and concepts have been imported and have been incorporated in ikebana. In some ways I was rather disappointed with this trend but I can see that it is necessary to arouse interest in the younger generation, and from there the original styles will also be appreciated.
Ohara School 5 generations:
1st Headmaster Unshin Ohara
2nd Headmaster Koun Ohara
3rd Headmaster Houn Ohara
4th Headmaster Natsuki Ohara
5th present Headmaster Hiroki Ohara
My rendition of Hanamai

Hanamai by Professor Kudo

Friday, 2 October 2009


Recently, I had some delicious jasmine tea, with only fragrant leaves. I was used to drinking tea with jasmine flowers in it. The smell of jasmine reminds me of summers in Egypt where jasmine garlands are everywhere. We also had a climber on the house and now in Japan I have the same but it flowers in May.
It is probably not a very popular flower for ikebana but here are two arrangements using a bowl, that I found is also used as a fish bowl in China and I used a shell to keep the flowers in place.

Egypt exports jasmine oil and flower essence to France, apparently one ounce costs more than an ounce of gold. A famous perfume called Joy has jasmine as its base.
I find the smell very pleasant and relaxing. As it is not the season for it now, its fragrance can still be enjoyed by drinking jasmine tea.