ikebana and life in japan

a blog about ikebana and life in japan

9/17/11

Ikebana Classes

For the past year, I've been teaching a small ikebana class once a week. I started out with three students, a woman from Ireland and two Japanese women who live here in Hanamaki. After the big earthquake and tsunami, sadly, the Irish woman decided to go back to Ireland, so I've been teaching the two Japanese women since March.

It has been a wonderful experience for me. I teach the classes in English, but Japanese slips in every once in a while. Sometimes it is easier to explain something in Japanese, and sometimes it is easier to explain something in English. Explaining why we do something the way we do has been the biggest challenge.

Here in Japan, the typical teaching method would be to do what your teacher says and not question why -- Why do you cut the flower short? Why does the branch lean out to the left? Why is the flower pulled down to that angle? Why do you put a short flower here? Why is the large flower placed low in the arrangement? and the list goes on and on. . . 

I think that being an American, I have always been taught and encouraged to ask, "Why?" Now that I look back on when I first started to take ikebana lessons, I'm sure I was quite the headache for my teacher with all my questions about "why"! But, I learned a lot by asking why, and I think my teacher also learned a lot by having to explain the reasons why.

I've really enjoyed teaching the two women. They have both grown over the past year and make some very beautiful arrangements. They don't ask a lot of "why" questions, probably because I explain why before they have a chance! Once in a while, they ask a good question that I really have to think about and explain to them. I think it helps them, and it also helps me as a teacher.

I have decided to try to teach a few more classes starting this fall. I have a year under my belt and feel more confident in my ikebana teaching ability than when I first started out. Eventually, I would love to be a full-time ikebana teacher, but that dream my take a while to achieve. I think starting out slow, like I have, I will be prepared when that day comes.

On October 2, I am going to have a small English ikebana event. I've rented a room for the day and will teach two introductory lessons, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Hopefully, the people who come to the event will enjoy the lesson and want to continue with me. A friend of mine made a wonderful flyer, and I've order 1,000 of them to put in one of the local papers. In a city of around 80,000 people, 1,000 isn't that many, but I think it will be a good start. If I get one person to come, I will be happy. If 20 people come, I will be very happy, but my knees will probably be shaking, too!




*If you are interested in the lesson, please contact me at the address on the right side of the page by September 30.

5 comments:

Nora Kay said...

I hope you get many students Son, I think you will be a wonderful teacher. Your are patient and do a great job of explaining. I made my first arraingement when I was there last Octorber. I very much enjoyed that. I am sure you will do well. Love, Mom

Hideki said...

hey:) i wish you can get a good result. ill help you!

The FitzWilliams said...

I know you're a wonderful teacher! Your classes would be very popular here - I hope you get a big turnout. Keep us posted!

The FitzWilliams said...

I just saw the Good Luck video on your side bar and it was AWESOME! My favorite part is when she says "Stephen-son!" Marty wants to know why the subtitles of the Japanese video are in Japanese? Or is it? We want English subtitles so we can see what wonderful things they're saying about you - especially during the high school in Arkansas part!

Stephen Coler said...

misty leigh -

they put subtitles on everything here, from the evening news to variety programs. i think they do it for the hearing impared. there is an option on the youtube video to insert subtitles, but i'll need to translate all of it first! one of these days when i get around to it, i'll let you know. then you can get to see all of the wonderful things they say about me! LOL