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Wednesday, April 2

Ikebana by Six

One of the things I love best about Ikebana is that there really is something in it for everyone to love. Of course, my understanding of Ikebana when I first moved to Japan was so very limited… much more than I ever realized. I lumped all Japanese floral design into the same category – it was all just Ikebana. Now that I have spent the past year and a half learning about it, I realize just how mistaken I was.

Sure, Ikebana is all Japanese floral design. However, there are hundreds of schools – old and new, traditional and modern, simple and elaborate, calming and disconcerting. Both schools I have studied are somewhere in between traditional and modern, a happy medium. I have been to numerous exhibits performed by varied schools, but typically an exhibit details only that specific school. So for our March program at Ikebana International to be a collaboration of six different schools and their demonstrators was a real treat for everyone who came. The schools represented were Ikenobu, Chikusen-Ryu, Sogetsu-Ryu, Ohara-Ryu, Kozan-Ryu (one of my fellow students!), Ko-Ryu and Danish Style thanks to the Danish Ambassador’s Wife’s contribution.

Held at the Kamakura Prince Hotel in a ballroom that glowed from the reflection off the overlooking ocean, the venue couldn’t have been more well-suited in beauty to compliment this floral art form. The six demonstrators were all students chosen from our own chapter. These ladies deserve a lot of appreciation, because I for one would certainly never have the nerve to get up in front of 90+ women and demonstrate what I know about Ikebana. I turn red clear up to my ears just in my tiny classroom… and that is with only five students and a sensei!

Creating two arrangements, the first was done with all demonstrators using similar materials to help those unfamiliar with the schools truly see the differences between the others. The second arrangement was done using materials of the demonstrator’s choice. The result, the room with a view was filled with a magnificent art of Japan.

To complete the day, one of my closest friends here in Japan who is moving away in the next few weeks also performed her own art form for the group. Her name is Elena, and she is an established singer and songwriter from Russia, with her first album, “Stay With Me,” having been released in 2003. And I am not saying this just because she is a dear friend, but her singing is truly beautiful.

I almost skipped the event because I just wasn’t feeling up to putting on a good face that day, but I’m so glad I ended up going. It brought a little of the sunshine back into my life.

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