Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Palace ball and winter peonies

winter peonies
in Japanese they say a lady sits like a peony. Peonies are also auspicious in the New Year.
Kimekomi palace ball

Ikebana International Kamakura Chapter #51

18th of February 2010.

Place: Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Naoraiden Hall

At 9:30 there was the Shrine Maiden’s Dance and Shinto blessing. Early in the morning a sudden heavy snowfall foiled my plans to join.

Made it to the workshop but had to join a Japanese speaking group. As with ikebana one just has to watch to understand what should be done, language is superfluous as was the sheet of instructions in English obsolete due to the microscopic print and missing text at the bottom.

A bonus was being at the table of the teacher. She first learned to make dolls in 1971 and has been teaching for over 30 years. That was obvious by her choice for our workshop of making a palace ball. Instead of the usual silk thread ours was to be in the Kimekomi way, done by tucking beautiful colourful cloth into grooves filled with glue. A golden tread is used to cover some grooves. (excellent way of recycling old or left over kimono material)

Everyone was tucking away at the still uncovered part of the ball, the teacher kindly prepared half the ball for us so all we had to do is copy the other half.

I moved into a sunny spot to get some warmth and to eat my sandwiches during the lunch break.

The rest of the time everyone was concentrating so hard on the finishing touches, and on fixing the clever red tassel. Unfortunately there was little time to chat, as always it was too soon to leave the friendly atmosphere.

After the February meetings I make a point to visit the garden with the winter flowering peonies.

The best part was when my 4-month old grand daughter played with my hand made palace ball. I can see it decorating a big Christmas tree next year.

Thank you Sensei and all her friends who helped us achieve so much in such a limited timeframe.

More pictures of winter peonies by the pond at the main entrance in Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine. Map

Unfortunately after writing this blog there was another snow storm that uprooted the 1000 year old gingko tree in the shrine complex. This gingko tree was famous for its beauty and legend. Newspaper article description of the incident.


  1. enjoyed your post. peony is spring flower in both bay area, CA at States and Beijing, my home town.

    now i regret that i did not sign up the doll making workshop at I.I. convention.

    thank you.

  2. don't worry if you like it can be arranged

  3. Your 4-month old grand daughter???
    I love the picture " Kimekomi palace ball".
    Wonderful shot indeed!