ikebana and life in japan

a blog about ikebana and life in japan


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.


Anonymous said...

How cool to get to learn from the headmaster! And what an interesting new style. I look forward to seeing your future pieces. Tawnya

nadia said...

Thank you for the explanation, I wanted to write something about the workshop with the Headmaster, you said it all and very well indeed. It was quite fun to do it and also to see what other people had done with the same flowers. There were two lots of flowers. I also liked that the Headmaster too the time to explain to each and every person individually and he wouldn't be hurried.

nadia said...

I wanted to say he took the time to explain and correct everyone

Anonymous said...

Good to find you back. A nice arrangement very fit for summer. I'm struck by the ramrod straight stem of the sunflower. Is it natural or did you put a wire in the stem to bring out that effect??

What exactly does "Hanakanade" mean in Japanese? How would you translate this form into English?


Anonymous said...

Hey, I talked about your blog and your new arrangement called "Hanakanade" to a Japanese friend of mine, and he looked up the words for me and suggested the following translations: "Floral Symphony Form"; or more literally, "To Play the Musical Notes of Flowers" or "Musical Performance by Flowers." Would you agree with him? Is that what hanakanade means officially? He guesses that it has something to do with playing music, and the pulsations of sound.
If so, I think you've achieved this. The height of the vertical stems do conjure up soaring notes; and the avant garde aspect of the geometric forms that you've created (triangles) sort of remind one of jazz rhythms.

Anyway, I agree it's exciting when something radically new is introduced in any form of art. Keep up the good work!


Hideki said...

It looks good! I can feel cool summer. Head master liked your work maybe:)

Stephen Coler said...

Tawnya, it was interesting to get to see and hear him explain it. At this month's kenkyu kai, there was a special study group after the tests had ended. We did another Hanakanade arrangement. It was interesting, but I still don't fully understand it. Hope you are well!!

Stephen Coler said...

Nadia, thanks for the lovely comment! There were also two different groups of flowers for us, too. The other materials were used for a more seasonal arrangement. I look forward to seeing how the arrangment evolves over the next couple of years.

Stephen Coler said...

John, the sunflowers that you buy here at the floral shops are usually like that. They have quite a strond stem and last for a couple of weeks.
As for the name translated to English, I am not sure. I don't think it would be anything that you suggested. I think it would be a more simple name, maybe "Performing Flowers"? But, I am not sure. I should have asked the headmaster when I had the chance, because I had the same question? Oh, well. It is still in the early stages of development with Japanese explanations only. When there is an English translation of things, I will let you know!

Stephen Coler said...

Hideki, I think he liked it, too! I just wish I could have talked to him more.

Anonymous said...

"Performing Flowers." I like that.....but isn't it meant to be "Music" that the flowers are performing (or trying to embody unto themselves) I wonder?? It would make logical sense for your master to propose a new form in this direction: afterall, if "Hanamai" is supposed to evoke the art of "dance" then why not "music" with "Hanakanade?"

Don't be shy with your master next time: we all learn from mistakes, and we all learn from each other, by visible example sometimes, but often through simple questions. And people in positions of authority are often quite lonely and appreciate being asked questions. For starters, why not ask some of your fellow students, or even your teacher, whether they think hanakanade has anything (even remotely) to do with "music."

Thanks for telling me about the interesting sunflowers that you have there!!


Anonymous said...

Some more thoughts on "hanakanade" after asking my friend, just so we can get a clearer idea about what the form is trying to achieve aesthetically... :D My friend says that "kanaderu" is a verb, but with the "ru" tail deleted in "Hanakanade"---the term becomes deliberately vague/mysterious: because, by this deletion, the ideogram for "kanade" can suddenly take on the noun function simultaneously: so it can be both performance (noun) and performing. Also, in this context (by the "ru" deletion), the "hana" is liberated from merely being a "noun" and suddenly can become an adjective or even an adverb: as in "hanayaka"---gorgeous, brilliant, bright etc. So to sum up, hanakanade can even mean gorgeous musical performance.

Whatever translation you finally decide upon, I think you, Stephen, have the authority to choose what you like based on your thinking, especially if it hasn't been decided upon yet by the School. But if you're going to go with "Performing Flowers"---I'm guessing that the point will be NOT to think of the flowers and stems and leaves as "Instrumentalists or vocalists"----rather, the arrangement will probably try to evoke some abstract sense of music and sound that can only be suggested, nay even whispered, by the crisscrossing of long stems and the colors of flowers. Am I making sense? If you think this is all silly, my apologies. The other approach would be not to overthink things, it's true...

Anyway good luck with this new form. You make difficult things look simple, and THAT's evidence of true talent.