Melbourne Ikebana Festival, 7 and 8 September

Sunday 28 July 2013

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Ikebana Today 13

Let’s review what we have discussed so far. During the period of rapid economic growth, Ikebana became the most popular hobby among young women in Japan. Although there is no statistic data available regarding the number of Ikebana students, some reports put the number at as many as 30 million people in late 1960s. It is possible that Ikebana helped those women gain an image of sophisticated ladies desirable for future wives.Later we will look further into the meaning of the images Ikebana created at that time.   

There is one thing we need to stop and consider here. Generally Ikebana may have been accepted as ideal training for becoming a housewife. But why did so many women learn it at the first place? The fact is that women did not have equal opportunities in the labour market. Rather than spending money for gaining degrees or qualifications, many of them spent money on training to become housewives. So, if women gained more opportunities for jobs, Ikebana would become less popular.     

Let’s now consider how Sofu Teshigahara, the first headmaster of Sogetsu School led the Ikebana boom. Although Ikebana was widely accepted as training for housewives, Sofu was aware that such a notion would not have wide appeal. He needed a new strategy. He is often described as an innovator of Ikebana, due to his contribution in developing new Ikebana styles. However, perhaps his most important contribution is that he created a new meaning for Ikebana.  

What is the new meaning of Ikebana? How could he reinvent Ikebana in the light of the Japanese history from Meiji to after the war? The new meaning of Ikebana made it possible for him to attract over one million members in thirty years or so. On the other hand, the new meaning was a curse for him at the same time. I’ll talk more about it in the next issue.

This is a work I created for a trade show stand. I used the client’s logo for the design using one hundred anthuriums in test tubes. This may not be a typical Ikebana work, but that does not matter for professional artists who value clients’ need.

We are running an Ikebana competition again this year. It is becoming very interesting. Please see the awarded works in our blog.