Friday 20 April 2012

Spring Moon Friendship Knot

Freestyle waining moon arrangement, hanging style.
Weeping willow, white Chrysanthemum and Pussy willow.

Moon arrangements are traditionally placed so that they can be viewed from below, often with the plant materials hanging down over the spectators sitting on the tatami floor. Arranging an ikebana to be seen from below is different from arranging something that is to be seen from above or at the same level. Ikebana is always interacting with the surroundings and the situation. And it is always approaching us when we are admiring it, wether it is from above, below or at the same level.

View from sitting on the tatami floor.

This arrangement is a waining moon naturalistic freestyle, with the long hanging branches of weeping willow as the main material. Weeping willow is always used without leaves, emphasizing the sweeping bare lines. The looping circular lines are repeating the form of the vase. But the knot on a weeping willow branch also has a traditionally meaning, it expresses the wish for new friendships to come.

Friday 13 April 2012

Dressed Alike

Red roses, pussy willow, white hyacinth and cotton ribbon.

Do you remember the Van Trapp children all dressed up in clothes made from old curtains in the movie "Sound of music", cute and embarrassing at the same time. Dressing siblings alike has been popular since the Victorian era. I especially remember a set of bright red shorts and t-shirt with white bands around the neck opening and sleeves. My little brother and I had the same sets and our older sister had a matching red dress, only her white neck band continued in a ribbon bow.

This ikebana arrangement is inspired by a photo of us three siblings dressed in our red and white clothes at a birthday party, sitting around a table eating cream cake. The flowers also describes our different personalities and the relationship between us three kids. So now you'll have to guess who is who in this quite personal birthday party arrangement.

Friday 6 April 2012

Peak Performance

Finally the cherry blossoms are in full bloom! These photos are from earlier today in Tokyo's Shinjuku Gyoen national garden. People are flocking to the best spots for cherry blossom viewing, gasping over the beauty of the Sakura, taking photos and enjoying a picknick with friends under the cherry trees.

The practice of Hanami, blossom viewing, is an old tradition in Japanese culture dating back to the 8th century. What started as an exclusive activity for noble people have developed into a popular feast for everyone. This weekend thousands of people will fill up the parks arranging Hanami parties to late at night. This year the celebrations are even more joyful as a result of the cold spring that have kept people waiting and impatiently following the cherry blossom forecasts.

Thursday 5 April 2012

Ohara Exhibtion Flower and Space

Back in Tokyo right in time for the last day of the Ohara ikebana exhibition "Flower and Space" at Takashimaya department store! The exhibition was postponed because of the tragic earthquake last year, this spring it was put up and it is Headmaster Hiroki Ohara's first one-man exhibition. This was the second upscale ikebana exhibition on this trip so we've been really lucky. The Ohara exhibition wasn't as large as the Sogetsu one in Osaka, but it was breathtaking and beautiful. I'm posting a few of my favorites. Have a look and judge for your self.

The Origin of Ikebana

Kyoto is home to several ikebana schools. The Ikenobo school has a large building on the fashionable Karasuma street. Ikenobo is the largest of the traditional schools and it also claims to be the oldest school, tracing it's history back to 1462. Since then the teachings have been passed down in the Ikenobo family and the present headmaster Sen'ei Ikenobo is the forty-fifth in generation.

The headmaster is also head priest in the Rokkaku-do temple, a small temple building that is now located in-between the high business buildings of the area. The name Ikenobo means a humble hut by a pound. The pound isn't here any more, but there is an artificial pound in the open space between the buildings to mark that this is where the first priest of the Ikenobo family lived in a hut by a pound. The Rokkaku-do temple is where the the old rikka style of the Ikenobo school was invented in the late 15th century and further developed in the 17th century.

Outside the building there is a sculpture of a traditional rikka arrangement. Apart from this metal sculpture there aren't any traditional ikebana arrangements on display, but there is a very nice ikebana museum with old manuscripts, pictures of arrangements and a collection of old vases. The museum is small but well worth a visit and you'll need an appointment to see it so remember to contact them in advance.

The Ikenobo building has a large shop where they sell books, containers and ikebana utensils. There are also several similar ikebana shops in the area so this is a great spot for stocking up on things difficult to find other places.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Kyoto Tea Flowers

Kyotos many shrines and temples are amongst the most beautiful spots in this historic city. My favorites are the zen temples of Daitoku-ji with amazing gardens and simplistic tea rooms. We've visited lots of temples on our stay in Kyoto, and even got to see some of the sub temples at Daitoku-ji that are not usually open to the public. Some of the temples sadly don't allow cameras, but these two do and they also each had a beautiful tea flower arrangement. The first one is Koto-in, surrounded by bamboo forests, with a chabana in a traditional tokonoma in a quite large tatami room. The second one is Zuiho-in, with a beautiful rock garden, and a small hanging chabana on the wall in a very tiny and humble tea house.


Taizoin, another famous zen temple in Kyoto, have a flower calendar on their website listing the different kinds of flowers used for the tea ceremony through the year. Have a look and get inspired.

Monday 2 April 2012

Waiting for Sakura

It's been an extremely cold spring in Japan, and the sakura - the cherry blossom is delayed several weeks. As the cherry blossom season is a major event many people have come to see the flowers at the most popular spots, such as here in Kyoto, both from other parts of Japan and from other countries. What was planned to be a cheerful event celebrating spring turns into a collective impatient waiting.

It's kind of sad visiting temples and parks thinking of what the sights will look like with colorful pink cascades lightening up the still sleepy trees. Still some trees are earlier than others, and what joy they bring! While we're waiting, why not sit down and have a lunch break under the peach trees, such as these that are in full bloom in the Imperial Palace Park of Kyoto. Peach blossoms are our friends too. And they are a bit tougher than the sakura.

Believing in the Power of Flowers 3

Here are more favorites from the Sogetsu exhibition "Believing in the Power of Flowers". The first three arrangements are all by iemoto Akane Teshigahara.

The next one is a pine arrangement in an enormous ceramic vase by the 3rd iemoto Hiroshi Teshigahara. I didn't get who made this ikebana for the exhibition, but it was created to honor Hiroshis efforts as iemoto.

This last arrangement is by master teacher Tetsunori Kawana. If you take a closer look at it you may notice that it has been put together by different parts of a pine tree in a quite advanced way. I especially like the way he's been using resin to glue dry twigs into an artistic shape balancing the fresh green part of the branch.

Sunday 1 April 2012

Believing in the Power of Flowers 2

Amongst my favorites at the Sogetsu exhibition in Osaka were these two miniature ikebana groups. They were recreated in honor of the second iemoto of the Sogetsu School, Kasumi Teshigahara, who developed miniature ikebana as a distinct style.

By using interesting details of different flowers and combining them in unexpected ways a magical landscape of miniatures is created.

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