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?


Hideki said...

Your work was outstanding in the exhibition:> I could feel GHIBLI world when I saw it. It was very interesting. Good work!

Stephen Coler said...

thanks! i'm glad you liked the work. i can just imagine all sorts of alien-like creatures living among the materials of the arrangement, just like in a ghibli movie. the aeonium, especially, feels like it belongs in a ghibli movie.

Anonymous said...

I think you're being modest. Your tropical ikebana must have made a sensation in the exhibit hall. I can just imagine all the other masters from the other schools doing a double take at your creation. It's marvelous!

I'm not sure what a ghibli is, and I'm too lazy to find out. But I love any kind of art that's a bit mysterious, and by that criterium, your one-row ikebana is VERY VERY mysterious!! So I like it a lot!!!!


ikebana said...

About ghibli , I am not sure I can recognize exactly a close material , but surely the feeling is appropriate .

Stephen Coler said...


thanks for the wonderful comment! ghibli movies are animated movies that appeal to both children and adults. some of the movies deal with pretty hefty subjects that may be a little difficult to understand at first. i think that ghibli is the equivalent of disney back in the states. in fact, disney produces the voice over for the ghibli movies in the states. to me, the arrangement looks like it could be out of "naushika of the valley of the wind". it is one of the more difficult ones, dealing with environmental problems, but interesting at the same time. if you every find it, i reccomend it!


Stephen Coler said...


thanks for you comment!
i think it looks like it could be out of "naushika of the valley of the wind".
i hope you come back and visit the blog again sometime!