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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Daily Meditation: Events Calendar

22 October until 5 December 2017: Yering Station Sculpture Exhibition 2017. Shoso’s work was selected for the show. www.yering.com

25 October 2017: A new term of Japanese Aesthetics starts at RMIT. http://bit.ly/1IFmuyl

29 October 2017: Salvos community fundraising through Ikebana at Kazari, 450 Malvern Rd, Prahran. http://www.kazari.com.au/

25 November 2017: Ikebana Workshop at Made in Japan, South Melbourne. https://mij.com.au/ 

17 March to 2 April 2018: Lorne Sculpture Biennale. Shoso was selected for the biennale.

30 March 2018: Shoso will conduct an Ikebana demo as a featured presenter at the Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities 2018, The International Academic Forum, Kobe, Japan. https://iafor.org

21 September to 6 November 2018: Biennale of Australian Art. Shoso was selected for the biennale.


Friday, 13 October 2017

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Ikebana Today 63

Mirei Shigemori’s assertion that flowers are nothing more than materials for self expression influenced such major Ikebana schools as Sogetsu and Ohara that gained great popularity after the war. To recognise how innovative this statement was, as well as how radically it was different to how flowers were seen before, we need to look into the origin of Ikebana.

Yutaka Tuchihashi (1990) states that Ikebana developed from the ancient custom of Hanami (flower viewing) by way of establishment of the Rikka style Ikebana. The aim of Hanami seems to be gaining vital force by viewing flowers, in particular Spring blossoms. 

In Japanese the word, hana (flower) also means with a different intonation nose, which is the contact point to the outside. Flower can be taken to mean, therefore, the contact point of this world to the outside, the sacred world.    

In the ancient Japan, people also took a branch of blossom from the fields and put it in the rice paddocks. They intended to transplant the nature’s life force, that sacred energy, to the paddock wishing for abundant crops. Their attitudes to flower suggest fetishism and manaism. 

We can assume that flower was regarded as something full of life force. Its energy was also seen as something mysterious, sacred and contagious. Importantly it also revitalised our souls. Such was the notion of flowers underlying in the development of Ikebana. 

Therefore, Shigemori’s teachings denied not just Ikebana as a spiritual training but also Japanese traditional attitudes to flower. We need to further reconsider his attitude, which was influenced by the Western Modernism, from a historical point of view. Do we still need to follow his teachings in the era of Post Modernism?     

The image is one of a small works I made for the exhibition of Tomokazu Matsuyama at Lesley Kehoe Galleries, 101 Collins St, Melbourne. I used subdued colours to work with colourful works by Mr Matsuyama.

October is a busy month for me. On 7th and 8th we will hold Wa: Ikebana exhibition at the Abbotsford convent. This is the third annual exhibition by Ikenobo, Ichiyo and my students of Sogetsu school. 

From 22nd, my sculptural work will be exhibited at Yering Station Sculpture Exhibition. I’m pleased that my environmental sculpture was selected for this show. Both sites are great to visit. 

From 25th, my course, Japanese Aesthetics: From Ikebana to contemporary art will start at the RMIT Short Courses.


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Monday, 4 September 2017

Ikebana Today 62

I have been talking about Ikebana as spiritual training. However, a very influential Ikebana researcher, Mirei Shigemori stated that Ikebana has nothing to do with either religion or moral teaching and denied Ikebana as a spiritual training. Instead, in 1930, he declared that Ikebana is nothing but art. Shigemori’s declaration has changed the teaching of Ikebana significantly in many schools, in particular, Sogetsu, Ohara and other schools that gained great popularity after the war.

Shigemori encouraged Ikebana artists to use, cut and bend plant materials as they wish, and denied the notions of respecting their natural way of being or having sympathetic attitudes to them. In other words, he regarded the plant materials as mere materials for self expression. Natural materials are just objects to use. This view is noteworthy, because it is so opposed to the Japanese traditional view of nature.

Actually Ikebana has many spiritual aspects to investigate, styles, views of the universe, views of natural materials, and the philosophy of learning called Shugyo. Dr Osamu Inoue discussed many of those aspects in his remarkable book, The Thoughts of Ikebana (2016). However, he did not mention much about Japanese perception of natural materials. He did mention that Yorishiro, a sacred object in Shinto belief, often made of natural materials, might be an origin of Ikebana. Nevertheless, he like many other Ikebana researchers, did not discuss further the connection between Ikebana and Shinto.

Considering that flowers were sacred objects for the Japanese in the Shinto tradition, Shigemori’s attitudes to natural materials, influenced by Western culture, is extremely contradictive.

We also need to assume that there is a huge gap between the traditional Ikebana schools and the new Ikebana schools such as the Sogetsu school. In order to recognise such a difference precisely, we need to reconsider the traditional Japanese view of flower again in the next issues.

The Ikebana work in this photo is a commercial work for a reception. I enjoy experimenting with various designs.

In August, the Ikebana Gallery Awards were announced and the students’ works were viewed by more than 16 thousands people around the world. We are pleased to be able to provide such a rare opportunity to many students for free. On 7 & 8 October, Wa: Ikebana Exhibition will be held at Abbotsford convent. Please don’t miss it.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Ikebana Today 61

Is Ikebana spiritual training? In the 16th century, Senno Ikenobo stated that practicing Ikebana might lead you to enlightenment. Many Ikebana practitioners see the truth in his words and Japanese in general seem to regard Ikebana as a kind of spiritual training.

However, it was Mirei Shigemori who declared in 1933 that Ikebana has nothing to do with spiritual training nor any moral teachings. Then, what is Ikebana? Shigemori regarded it as art. His movement is called the Shinko-Ikebana-sengen and it changed Ikebana significantly.

Actually Ikebana was transformed significantly in the Showa period (1926 - 1989). In the 1920s free style Ikebana was seen for the first time. This was a really big change in Ikebana history. Shinko-Ikebana Sengen began in the 1930’s. During the WWⅡ (1939 - 1945), Ikebana had almost disappeared from Japan. After the war, Ikebana suddenly became popular. In the next decades, an Ikebana boom occurred in Japan in which the largest number of people engaged in Ikebana in history.

These changes are all related. The perception of Ikebana as art rather than as spiritual training brought the Ikebana boom in the Showa period. This is most likely due to the influence of Shigemori. I’ll look into more what he was thinking of at that time.

Looking back, I feel that my view on Ikebana was also influenced by Shigemori. If I was convinced that Ikebana was a kind of spiritual training, I would have started it much earlier. I remember talking to one of my old friends about my doubt about Ikebana. Is it really worth doing? Will it take me where I would like to be? Wouldn’t I regret having invested so much time in Ikebana in the future? “As it is the way of flower, it will be good for you” “I suppose” Both of us were not so sure. I could not make my mind for a long time, maybe because of Shigemori.

On 18 August Dr Kobayashi will talk about Ikebana at the University of Melbourne. She is the president of International Society of Ikebana Studies.

I recently started a new project, The Salvos community fundraising through Ikebana workshops. By hosting our workshop, you can earn $200 and donate $50 to a charity. This is ideal for cafes, educational institutions, churches etc. Please check our website.

Please download free Ikebana calendars with this image from my website.


Thursday, 3 August 2017

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Monday, 10 July 2017

Friday, 7 July 2017

Ikebana Today 60

I have been talking about what Ikebana is from various view points. A well supported definition of Ikebana is that it is a spiritual training. However, what it means is rather complicated. Zen philosophy may be helpful to understand Ikebana as a spiritual training, but as I mentioned in the previous issues, I have many questions about such an approach. Zen philosophy alone cannot explain all aspects of Ikebana nor Japans culture.  

As my previous essays suggest, thinking about Ikebana is closely related to thinking about Japanese culture. Also, studying history of Ikebana is actually studying about Japanese history. The rise of samurai class as political power affected Ikebana style and economical power of merchant class in Edo period also affected Ikebana. Ikebana as a part of the Japanese culture changes in accordance with it society.     

Let’s now consider Ikebana as spiritual training further. First of all, are we practicing Ikebana as a spiritual training today? If so, spiritual aspects should be included in Ikebana teaching, and we should expect Ikebana teachers to be highly virtuous. In my view, that is not the case, although, off course, there are so many variables. The point is that there is a reason for this. Actually the traditional notion of Ikebana as a spiritual training was strongly denied in the early 20th century.     

It was Mirei Shigemori who provoked a notion that Ikebana has nothing to do with a spiritual training. He influenced many Ikebana artists including head masters of Sogetsu school and Ohara school, the two of the three major Ikebana schools. As I mentioned before, Shigemori is one the greatest Japanese garden designers in 20th century. In fact, his garden designs inspired me so much that I decided to study about Japanese gardens and got a qualification as a garden designer. I’ll write a bit more about Shigemori in the next issue and then I’ll write about my thoughts on Ikebana as a spiritual training. 

In June I talked about Ikebana at NGV, and Dr Kobayashi, president of International Society of Ikebana Studies will also talk about Ikebana at the University of Melbourne on 18 August, 2017. Details will be on my website.  

This is a work I made for Hanabishi restaurant in city. Working to create regular displays has been a good training for me for many years.       

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Salvos Community Fundraising through Ikebana

Salvos Community Fundraising through Ikebana: Host Shoso Shimbo 's workshop at your venue.

Shoso Shimbo and his team can offer many types of ikebana workshops now. You may be able to earn more than $200 per hour and donate $50 or more to a charity by hosting our popular one hour workshop. http://www.shoso.com.au/p/workshop.html

Image: Ikebana demonstration at Made in Japan (South Melbourne)


Monday, 19 June 2017