ikebana and life in japan

a blog about ikebana and life in japan


Fall Ikebana Exhibition 2013, Part 2

On Sunday, November 10, and Monday, November 11, I took part in the annual prefectural fall ikebana exhibition. The weekend before, I and two of my students took part in the city-wide exhibition (click here to see that post), so I have had a busy couple of weeks. But they have been great busy!

About a month ago while at the flower shop getting flowers for one of my lessons, I noticed some very nice, large dried leaves. I asked if they were special order for someone, but the staff said that they were actually left over from an exhibition held in October. That meant I could use them if I wanted to, but I had to think about it. Because they were so big, I would need a large container, and I didn't have any. So, my search for a container began.

I looked around at different second hand shops and even an antique type store, but I couldn't find anything. I asked my teacher if she had any large vases, and just my luck, she did! With that vase, I could use the leaves. Yeah! The next time I was at the shop, I saw that the leaves were still there and immediately bought them. Now, I just had to figure out what to put with them.

I thought I would like to another Bunjin styled arrangement, but it would be difficult to find materials to go with the leaves. One day at my lesson, I noticed that my teacher had a beautiful, old piece of lichen covered persimmon laying out in the corner of her yard. She had been through her garden cleaning things up, getting ready for the winter season, and she had put the old branch (one she had used about 10 years ago) in the pile to be thrown away. I asked if I could use it, and she said yes. I had another material for my arrangement. (When searching for materials, I look everywhere to try and find the perfect materials to use -- while driving, while walking, in the school yard, around the school, around my neighborhood, everywhere!)

I thought that some pine would also go nice with the arrangement, so a friend and I went for a little drive up in the mountains to search for some pine. We finally managed to find some, and after climbing up the tree to get to it to cut it off, I had some pine. Now I needed something to go in the front of the arrangement to give it a focal point.

I went to several different flower shops in several different cities looking for some unusual flowers, but I had no luck. I thought I could also use a potted plant, so I went to several different garden centers and found some huge ornamental cabbage plants that would be perfect. Everything was coming together.

Last, I thought it would be nice to give it a little color, so I decided to add some green chrysanthemums to the arrangement. They would give the arrangement a nice pop of color and help to fill out the space of the work. They would also help to give the arrangement a bit of a fall feel to it.

After a couple of weeks of planning, I finally had my arrangement completed.

Dried Sterlizia augusta, pine, lichen covered persimmon, 
ornamental cabbage, chrysanthemum "Anastasia"

It may be hard to tell from the picture just how large this arrangement is, but the ornamental cabbage in the front is about a foot wide! The large leaf probably stood up about three and a half feet out of the container. This is the largest ikebana arrangement I have created, and I think it turned out very well (if I do say so myself!).

Here's a picture of it from the left side so you can also see how far back it stretches.

It was a dynamic arrangement, and I think I captured the feeling of fall and the coming of the cold winter ahead. This was something that I don't normally do, and people noticed that. I saw these leaves and knew that I had to use them somehow. Since they are dried, I can use them again. Yeah! I thought they would look nice if they were gold-leafed. I could use them in a Christmas or New Year's arrangement, but that won't be this year.

Click here to see the arrangement I did for the spring exhibition.

As always, please feel free to leave a comment below or share the post. Also feel free to +1 the post.

Happy Fall!


Fall Ikebana Exhibition 2013, Part 1

This past weekend, I and two of my students participated in the city-wide culture festival that is held every year. People display not only ikebana but also bonsai, Japanese calligraphy, photos, paintings, art, sculpture, and the list goes on. I think that this was my 11th year to participate in the festival -- wow!

This year, one of my more advanced students participated in the festival. She wanted to do a One-Row arrangement using dark colored calla lilies. I asked the flower shop to try and order some lilies, and they ended up having to get them shipped in from Tokyo! This was her second time to do an arrangement for the culture festival, but it was her first time to do a large arrangement like the one she did. She made a beautiful arrangement and should be very proud of herself!

One-Row Form
Calla lily, carnation, spray carnation, solidago, Homalomena

The other student who participated in the festival for the first time has been doing ikebana for a while, but is still in the beginning stage. She wanted to use some type of branch in the Inclining Form. We went to the flower shop together and found some beautiful "Sekka" willow which would be perfect the type of arrangement she wanted to do. She did a wonderful job and should also be proud of herself!

Inclining Form
Fasciated willow "Sekka", ping-pong chrysanthemum

As for me, I wanted to do something more with a Japanese fell to it, something a little larger in a vase. I wanted to try to do a Bunjin arrangement, a type of ikebana based on a Japanese interpretation of the Chinese bunjin, or literati. Emphasis is placed on the elegance and poetic nature or rare blooms, shrubs, and plants. It is not bound by any specific floral style, and materials may be freely arranged to express the unique beauty of each stem, flower, or leaf. 

A friend lent me a beautiful vase that would be perfect for this type of arrangement, so I was ready to go, but I couldn't decide what materials I wanted to use. I thought I would like to use pine and some type of tropical flower along with something bold to place in the front of the arrangement to give it balance. My teacher had a beautiful hydrangea blossom that had partially dried on the bush (it was at least 10 inches across!), and another student had a beautiful branch of aged pine that she let me use. I went to the flower shop and got my tropical materials, and voila! I had my arrangement. All of the materials are arranged as if they are the star of the show, but there is a balance between all of the materials.

Bunjin Arrangement
Dried hydrangea, pine, heliconia

The festival was held for three days and many people came to enjoy all of the different works displayed. I had a great time, and my students did, too! One of them is already looking forward to next year's festival!

This coming weekend, I have another exhibition to prepare for, this one the prefectural fall ikebana exhibit. I have some great materials I found a couple of weeks ago and can't wait to create it and share it with all of you. Look for part 2 soon!

As always, fell free to comment below. Let me know what you think of the arrangements or tell me about your favorite fall flowers. Also feel free to share or +1 it!