ikebana and life in japan

a blog about ikebana and life in japan


Summer Ikebana -- Contemporary and Traditional

So far this year, it has been a rather mild summer where I live in Japan. There was no real rainy season to speak of, and for most days, the high temperatures have not been above 30 degrees celcius. I have been loving it! Usually, the summers here are so hot and humid!! But by posting this on the internet, I may have jinxed myself! I hope not. I hope the rest of the summer continues to be a pleasant and bearable one.

I have two ikebana arrangements to share with you this time, both of which are summer inspired.

The first is a more contemporary arrangement known as the Circular Form. It is a multisided composition that is suitable for a western style home and can be placed on a table or buffet. It can be viewed from any side making it perfect for a centerpiece on the dining room table. The three main stems are placed along the circumference of a circle pointing outwards and producing a circular or spiral sense of movement.

Circular Form
Sunflower, Prairie Gentian, Asparagus Myriocladus, Baby's Breath
The three stems of sunflower are the main stems of the arrangement and make the basic structure of the circular motion. The asparagus myriocladus is also inserted in the same circualr motion forming a base of green in the arrangement. Prairie gentian is placed throughout to give color and balance to the work. Long stems of the prairie gentian are also used to help strengthen the circular motion. Finally, baby's breath is inserted throughout to give depth and texture to the composition. To me, it also gives a cool feeling to the arrangment, perfect for hot summer days.

View from above
All of the sunflowers extend beyond the border of the container.

The second arrangement is a Realistic Landscape Moribana arrangement. I had materials left over from a special class that I had gone to on Sunday and wanted to use them to make a large summer arrangment.

Realistic Landscape Moribana
Japanese Bell Flower,Vaccinium Oldhammi "Natsu Haze", Hosta Leaves, Solomon's Seal, Daianthus

The Japanese bell flowers, growing at the edge of a mountain stream or river, extend out over the surface of the water. The daianthus also grow in a small clump near the waters edge. The pink color helps to break up the strong green of the arrangement created by the hosta leaves, Solomon's seal and "Natsu Haze".

With the reflection of the materials extending out over the surface of the water, it helps to create a depth to the composition and also makes the viewer feel a little cool when looking at the arrangmenet.

Natural landscapes are the foundation for the Ohara School of Ikebana. Looking at these types of arrangements always gives me a sense of relief and relaxation.

Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think of the arrangements. Which one do you like better? What types of materials would you use to create a realistic landscape arrangement where you live?

I hope all of you are having a great summer!


Hanakanade with Headmaster Hiroki Ohara

This past weekend on Sunday, July 8, I attended a workshop presented by the Ohara School of Ikebana Headmaster, Hiroki Ohara. He has created a new style, called Hanakanade, and is travelling around Japan to the different area chapters to talk about and teach how to create the new style.

For the past year, photographs of the headmaster's Hanakanade arrangements have been published in magazines, and he also showed several arrangements at his first solo exhibition held earlier in the year in Tokyo. Looking at pictures and seeing arrangements has been informative, but learning from the headmaster, himself, is something that does not happen often. Needless to say, I was very excited for the opportunity.

The main point of Hanakanade is to showcase the limited vertical space above the container. Three principal stems rise up, crossing and forming interesting lines and shapes in the space above the container. The three points from which the stems soar into the air are then covered with a base of green material, and the lower space of the container is then utilized to add a grounding to the arrangement. The three principle stems have set rules, and all the other materials, where they are placed, how they are placed, the lengths of the stems, are all free. Because of the freedom of the arrangement, something interesting and unique can be created, but it also makes it difficult to use the space wisely, creating something that enhances, not detracts from, the principal stems in the area above the container.

After the Headmaster gave a short talk an the basics of the new style, I made a Hanakanade arrangement using the materials provided. He came around and checked each person's work giving feedback and advice on how to make a better arrangement. I was happy because the only thing he changed in my arrangement was the angle of one of the principle stems, and he also took out a few of the small flowers I had placed at the foot of one of the principle stems and added a tall leaf to give a little height to the base of the arrangement.

It was a very informative workshop, and I was thrilled that I could learn directly from the headmaster; but it is still a new style that I will have to practice many times to fully understand the beauty and delicate balance of the style.

Hanakanade -- the three principal stems rising into the limited vertical space above the container.

A close up of the base. Notice the sunflower looking to the rear of the arrangement?
This helps to fill in the space of the base of the container. It is also an arrangement
that can be viewed from any angle, so having something looking to the
rear of the work ensures that the back is also pleasing.

I tried to take a picture from above, but my arms weren't quite long enough.
Here you can see how the principal stems cross and fill the space.