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Monday, December 17

Ikebana International’s Fair 2007 for Charity

The thing I like so much about Ikebana International is the ‘international’ part of it. Last Monday, I caught a train with friends towards Tokyo for the I.I. Fair 2007 for Charity presented by the Tokyo Founding Chapter. A ridiculous amount of tickets had been sold this year… over 3,000. Do you realize this means that over 3,000 people were coming to this thing... on a Monday afternoon?? The line to get in snaked around several empty ballrooms on the floor it was being held in the Tokyo Prince Hotel. When the doors opened for the event, tables in the huge ballroom bazaar, as well as the Ikebana exhibition tables, were instantly flooded with people. We even tried to be smart and start at the back of the room working forward, but many had the same idea too.

Basically there were a hundred of so tables set up with just about any kind of food, clothing and decoration one could imagine. In the world. You see, while I can’t recall how many Embassies participated, every corner of the earth was represented in some fashion. Typically at the end of the table, you could find a sign telling you which country the table was presented by. A few, I actually had to ask where that country was. This is the whole ‘international’ part that I enjoy so much. I had coffee from Saudi Arabia thanks to the wife of the Ambassador from Algeria (whom I met last year when I tried the burka fashion popular in northern Africa) who was roaming the room with her Saudi friend. First you eat a sweet dried prune and then drink this coffee that has a wonderful aroma, thanks to the smell from the spices involved. The taste is even better. Then I had a snack of some sort from India, a lunch set from Thailand, topped off with Japanese tea ceremony and sweets. The Denmark embassy provided entertainment in the form of a gorgeous opera singer, which prompted the arrival of Japanese Princess Takamado, whose bodyguards politely cleared a path as she made it through the throngs of people to her front and center seat. This is the second time that she has passed directly in front of me… at arms length… and the second time I have forgotten to take a picture. This time, though, I have a good reason. My hands were filled with purchases (including one gorgeous beaded necklace from the Congo) and the one coveted generic cola I found in the joint, courtesy of some African nation I now forget the name of. No way was I putting that caffeine aside. I would have tossed the purchases down, but not the cola. Not for anything.

Seriously, where else can you become so immersed in such a multitude of cultures than you can with Ikebana International? Okay, sure there are plenty of organizations that are all about improving diplomatic relations, but known that I know of are so accessible to common folk like myself. The most wonderful part is how friendly everyone is. We didn’t go steps without stopping to chat with someone, known or unknown until then. At the tea ceremony, a Japanese woman made a special effort to come sit next to me, only to share her sweets with me because, as she said, she thought I was pretty. A wonderful compliment even if her familiarity with American women has got to be slim to consider myself in such a category.

As we were leaving for the fifth or sixth time (we kept running into more people that wanted to talk and would lead us each time further away from the door), I did take note that with all of the world’s nations represented, there was one that was not… the United States! Perhaps this harkens back to what I’ve said before… we’re just a bit too much of everything that we wouldn’t know what to put on our table beyond… say… everything? And chocolate chip cookies, of course.


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Redspect said...

"If you haven't any charity in your heart you have the worst kind of heart trouble" to cure it Help people, let's unite for one good cause, be a volunteer"save lives"!