ikebana and life in japan

a blog about ikebana and life in japan


Tropical Ikebana, ushering in the summer

This past weekend, the annual spring ikebana exhibition was held with over 250 people participating over the four day event. Fourteen different schools of ikebana participated in the exhibition, including Ikenobo, Sogetsu, and my school, Ohara. It is always interesting to see what materials other schools of ikebana use and how they use them in arrangements. I enjoy looking at other arrangements and the beauty that is created with different flowers, leaves, and branches. It never fails to inspire me in my own study and pursuit of ikebana and makes me want to share the joy of ikebana with others.

A couple of weeks ago while I was buying some flowers for a class that I was teaching, I spotted an interesting plant in the window of the flower shop -- Aeonium artropurpureum. Usually, this material is rather small, but these plants had been growing for a while and had matured into very nice, long, and unusual stalks. I knew that I wanted to use them for the spring exhibition, so I snapped them up before someone else had the same idea!

Looking at the lines of the material, I decided that I wanted to do a one-row form arrangement to show off the interesting lines and shape of the Aeonium. But, the Aeonium was quite large, so I would have to think about what type of container or containers I would use. Next, I had to decide what other materials I could use to show off this beauty. The Aeonium looked a little tropical and other-worldly to me, so I decided that I needed to find other tropical plants and flowers to make a cohesive, yet interesting, arrangement.

And the result:

One-row form
materials: Aeonium artropurpureum, Pincushion (2 varieties), Guzumania (2 varieties),
Dracaena "Song of India", Dracaena "Song of Jamaica"

 I had the perfect spot in the corner with a large base-box.
The view from the right side.

The view from the left side.

Tropical Ikebana to usher in the summer.

Several friends said that the materials looked like they came from a Ghibli movie. I think the Aeonium definitely look like they belong in a Ghibli movie.

The exhibition was only four days long. I always feel so bad for the flowers that they can only be appreciated for such a short time. If the arrangement is small, I can enjoy it at home after the exhibition ends, but this one was too big to do that. The box the arrangement sits on is about a meter across, so that can give you a small idea of how large the arrangement was.

A friend of mine has a small hanko shop, so I asked him if he would like for me to do a small arrangement for his window. I had done one for the new year in 2012 and 2011 for him. He was more than happy for me to do something for him again.

One-row form
materials: Guzumania, Dracaena "Song of Jamaica", Orchid "Calipso Pink"

A punch of color in the shop window.
I had bought the orchids for the arrangement for the exhibition, but decided against using them.
I'm glad they had a chance to show off their beauty to the public.
I'm glad I was able to use the materials again. And hopefully, they will last for a while and give the people walking by the shop something beautiful to look at.

Feel free to leave a comment on what you think of the arrangement. Do you think it looks like the materials could be found in a Ghibli movie?


Short Ikebana Picture Video How-To

I've been messing around with trying to make an ikebana video lately.

Here are my first two attempts. I took a series of photos and made a little mini-movie on how to make two different kinds of arrangements. They don't go into a lot of detail, because I wasn't sure I could even do it -- I am not the most tech savvy! I'm going to actually try and take a video of me doing and explaining an arrangement next, so be on the lookout for that. Until then, enjoy these two short videos.


Cherry Blossoms 2012

The cherry blossoms finally came into bloom last week. On Saturday, the sky was a brilliant blue and it seemed the pink trees had blossomed over night. I was busy that day and couldn't get out to take some pictures. So on Sunday morning, I woke up bright and early and headed out to take enjoy the beauty of the day and the beauty of the trees. It was a little hazy, but I did manage to get a few shots. And I'm lucky I did. Why? Because the rain and cool weather came putting a stop to all of the cherry blossom fun. By the end of the week, most of the blossoms had been beaten off the trees by the rain. It seems like that happens every year. I guess that is the spring weather for you. The frailty of the flowers make you appreciate them so much more. I look forward to their fleeting beauty each year, and it never disappoints. So until next year, I'll just enjoy the pictures I have.

cherry trees along the bank of the Kitakami river

it looks like cotton candy

yes, that is snow on the mountains in the background
a walking path under the trees

i love the gray bark of the cherry tree

pink and blue