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Monday, October 30

Beauty Is More Than Petal Deep

At last month’s Ikebana International meeting, there was quite a buzz about the upcoming Ikebana International Ninth World Convention. Being very new to this world, this business initially went quite over my head. The meeting progressed and I had the chance to speak with many different people about it, all very excited and all expressing that I should definitely make sure I attend. Thanks to one of my lovely new and interesting friends from that meeting, I was presented with a ticket to assure that I didn’t miss this special event.

The Convention only comes to Japan every five years, making it even more imperative that I not miss this one. Top Ikebana artists from around the globe are there to display their work and some of the best teachers will also provide workshops. As many schools as possible are represented. By this, I mean that there are hundreds of schools and I won’t even try to describe them to you, not even one. Just know that some more popular than others (I think this horizontal favorite was from the Sogetsu school), some very traditional (pictured above is a traditional favorite) and some are very modern schools where the artistic expression is more like sculpture than floral essence. There were several examples of just that style at the Convention and while I am sure it has its place in the world of Ikebana, I am not getting it.

I am part of the Kofu school which is a newer school that can be simply described as one that uses less of the abstract materials and sticks with the plant varieties. Sadly, there was only one arrangement at the Convention from my school. But you see my work every week so you get an idea. Just please do not take it for GOOD Kofu. I have yet to earn my first certificate but hopefully will in the next month or so. Plus, Kofu in its expertise form like this one replicates an arch and Sensei is no where near ready to teach me that.

Guess what Alpha Male also went and spent his Saturday viewing the over 250 Ikebana floral arrangements with me. While his original motivation is that he wanted to spend the day with me (READ: Attach himself to my leg like he does when I am home with him), I am choosing to think that the reasoning was that he really wanted to take more of an interest in my interests and therefore learn more about this new pursuit of mine. His take on Ikebana and the Convention… “It was nice. But I would have walked faster.”

We had met with my friends who had volunteered their time to work at the Convention. They were able to get away after registration and spend the morning enjoying the displays with us. Yes, we did look at everything very carefully and yes, it could probably be considered agonizingly slowly if you weren’t thoroughly fascinated with this art form, but I was not going to rush myself through something so important. Self-indulgently, I didn’t let KH rush this one.

About the arrangements… well, there were a number that I liked. Even more that I really loved. A handful I didn’t understand. A few weren’t flowers or even plants so I am completely clueless on those. (What’s up with the paper clips? What do they express? A desperate need for a paying desk job?) (The test tube roses… a hankering for a test tube baby?)

(Psst… don’t be embarrassed but I think your leaf is upside down.)

Most importantly, I just seem to have lucked out and fallen into a world embraced by art and philosophy intermingled. If mentioned before that floral design was always an interest but never would I have believed I could have found a part of that world so deeply personal for me to delve myself completely into. I love the history of Ikebana and I soak in anything my friends will share. Even more significantly, I love the idea that Ikebana is a connection almost religious in experience for those who learn it. It’s a way to connect and harmonize your self to nature. It’s the essence of knowing that you are connected so intimately with the world around you. Finding that perfect balance with heaven and earth.

The Convention opened my eyes to just how much of a difference there can be in our individual designs/expressions/intentions and yet we are all working towards the unified goal of being at one with the world around us.

Perhaps too philosophic for a Monday and maybe I lost a few of you by putting you to sleep. I’m just amazed at how this world seems like it was waiting for me to find it. Some days this is one of the only things I like about being here in Japan. Things aren’t always easy as I expected they wouldn’t be. But had I never moved, I would have never found this world. A world which makes me feel in some ways like I have found my home.

Whether you appreciate it for these reasons, or just because Ikebana is pretty or if you don’t even appreciate it at all… there is beauty in it. Doesn’t the world always need a little bit more beauty?

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