ikebana and life in japan

a blog about ikebana and life in japan

1/28/14

New Year's Ikebana 2014

I have been off the blog world for a while.

I had gone home for my winter break for a month and was busy with things there. I had also left my camera in Japan, so I couldn't really take any pictures while I was home. I know that's not really an excuse, but . . .

Better late than never, here is my New Year's ikebana arrangement.

As in years past, I did an arrangement for my friends hanko shop window. Click here for 2012 and here for the 2011 arrangements. This year, I would be in America during the New Year, so I made an arrangement ahead of time that he could put in the window while I was gone. I left for America on the 22nd of December, later than normal. It would only be a week until it would be time to display the arrangement, so it should be ok. All of the materials I used keep for a long time, and my apartment would be cold while I was out. Everything should be ok, and it was! Yeah!

For the past couple of times, I did heika arrangements, arrangements in a vase. The space for the display is a bit narrow making it difficult to do a large work in the space. This year, I decided that I would do a hana-isho arrangement, one of my favorites (I know I say that about all the forms and styles -- it's just too hard to pick one!), the One-row Form.

He wanted something a little different, so I got five different square containers that are usually used in the New Year osechi box, food served during the New Year's Holidays which symbolize good luck and fortune. They might hold beans, different boiled vegetables, rice, different foods that can last through the holiday season. Of course this time, they didn't hold any food!




Above is a picture of a very gorgeous osechi box. Something like this would be well over $300! And the box itself, depending on what it is made from and how it is decorated, can also be very expensive -- $500 or more. 

Some of the food above include the following:

Datemaki -- Sweet egg roll mixed with fish paste, with a texture close to pound cakes. The rolls resemble scrolls which symbolize knowledge and literal talents.
Kamaboko -- White fish cake trimmed with bright pink colors resemble the rising sun. The pink color expresses happiness, and the white color symbolizes sanctity.
Kazunoko -- Salted herring row, at times referred to as "golden diamonds" due to its color.
Kuro-mame -- Sweet black beans, eaten to wish for a healthy year.
Tai -- Red sea bream, associated with the Japanese word "Mede-tai", which refers to happiness and joy.

**the above picture and explanations of the food were taken from the Japan National Tourism Organization homepage**

The above is not your typical box, but I thought it would be fun to show what a lavish one looked like.



The small boxes that I bought are what are placed inside of the larger boxes to separate the food. For all five, I think I paid less than $10. Very cheap for a container if you ask me!

I wanted to use traditional New Year materials, which can be found at any flower shop and even in the grocery stores. The end result, a large arrangement that cold fit into the narrow display space.


New Year's Arrangement 2014
One-row Form
Young pine, painted bamboo, ping-pong chrysanthemum, colwort (ornamental kale),
Sarcandra glabra, New Year decoration


And here it is in the shop window.




A modern take on a traditional New Year arrangement.

I hope that each of you who reads the blog had a wonderful and relaxing New Year.
I wish each of you good health and prosperity in 2014!

Here's to a year filled with beautiful and inspiring flowers.


2 comments:

Gail said...

Thank you for the picture and description of the New Year osechi box. It looks too good to eat if received as a present. I like your idea of using the containers for your lovely one row. Those ping-pong chrysanthemums are beautiful; they are bigger than what I can buy where I live. Thanks for posting a picture of your arrangement.

Stephen Coler said...

Gail,

Nowadays, the osechi box is not so popular -- at least homemade boxes. You can order from the grocery store, hotels, even at your local convenience store. Some of the newer ones have a Japanese box, an Italian box, and a Western box -- that way you can enjoy all kinds of different cuisines.
I feel very lucky to live in Japan and have access to such wonderful flowers. Everything is very seasonal which makes it fun to do arrangements. Thanks for your wonderful comment!
Stephen