Melbourne Ikebana Festival, 7 and 8 September

Friday 27 February 2015

Shoso at Conferences

a. Shoso has been invited to give a talk about contemporary Ikebana at Kyoto University of Art and Design in April 2015. Japanese presentation.
When: 2-4pm, 2 April 2015
Where: Kyoto University of Art and Design

b. Shoso will present his paper about “Power in the Discourse of Art: Ephemeral Arts as Counter-monuments” at the Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities in April 2015. English presentation.   
When: 3-5 April 2015
Where: The Osaka International Convention Center

His paper will be published in the conference proceedings and will be available online.

Monday 16 February 2015

10 Plants to Have for Ikebana Artists

One of our new Ikebana students asked me what kind of plants to grow in her garden. She is very lucky to have some space to grow special plants for Ikebana. Here is a list of 10 plants that I found very useful for Ikebana and relatively easy to grow. Start to collect these plants in your garden. They are all in my garden. I'll present some other time a list of 10 plants for more advanced Ikebana artists.

1. Japanese Maple (Momiji). You must have at least one maple tree. I am fortunate to have seven.

2. Japonica (Boke). Personally I like white best. If possible please grow red and pink as well.

3. Black Pine (Kuromatsu). There are many types of cypresses or pines that are useful for Ikebana. Choose what you like. If you have large space, Black Pine is the best.

4. Japanese Mahonia (Hiiragi nanten). There are several types. I like the one with smaller leaves. Its branches are ideal for practicing basic styles of Ikebana.

5. Camelia. Popular types in Ikebana are white single petal ones such as Kamo Hon Ami, Wabisuke   or Shiratama. The photo is our new Kamo Hon Ami. I am looking for Wabisuke now.

6. Vines. They are wonderful for Ikebana. Jasmine is good. My favourite is Chocolate Vine (Akebi)(photo).

7. Pieris/Temple Bells (Asebi). They are so beautiful all year around. My recommendation is one with bright green leaves and pure white flowers.

8. Magnolia. I have Royal Star (Kobushi) and Manchu Fan. Choose what you like.

9. Throatwort (Yugiriso). This can be a nice filler for any style of Ikebana.  

10. Pearlbush (Rikyubai). Its white flowers in spring are so sweet.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Basic Ikebana Articles

I decided to republish the following two of my short articles on Ikebana for two reasons. First, I am going to rewrite and extend the first article, Ikebana and Zen for a journal.  I'll let you know the details here sometime soon.

Second, I am disappointed to witness unkind behaviour of an Ikebana practitioner lately. This Ikebana teacher represents some Ikebana group but he does not seem to understand what Ikebana is for. What he did would not be accepted in Japan where Ikebana teachers are well respected not just for their skills but chiefly for their virtues. 

As far as I know, an Ikebana teacher could not survive in Japan if he or she is rude, unkind or ungenerous. There is social expectation for him/her, which could be social pressure or even sanction. Just imagine a role of a priest in a community in a country like Australia. There is something similar in the role of an Ikebana artist in Japan.   

Sometimes we have to be strong to be kind to others. Good Ikebana artists seem to know that flower can give power and courage to overcome their inner fears.      

Ikebana may have become popular overseas, but do they really understand that it is a way of personal development?

1. Ikebana and Zen: The Ten Virtues of Ikebana

2. Ikebana and Shinto

Sunday 1 February 2015

Ikebana Today 32

In the Muromachi period, Ikebana had two contrasting styles, the official tatehana and popular ikebana. I am assuming that there was a cultural conflict between them. Tatehana belongs to the Yayoi – the aristocrat - Buddhism tradition, while ikebana belongs to the Jomon - samurai - Shinto tradition. Based on this assumption, we now can answer the question: Does ikebana mean to bring flowers back to life or to make flowers live longer?

The answer is former. If the latter was correct, the interpretation is not logical. Both styles of Ikebana are trying to make flowers live longer by supplying water to them and therefore, there is no difference between them. There has to be a contrasting relationship between them. 

The former, on the other hand, means that ikebana tries to bring flowers back to life but tatehana is not. It is logical. But what does it mean to make flowers revive? This is more difficult question. We will think about it in following issues.

This is a sample of a bridal bouquet I made recently. The request was to use complementary colours. To achieve dynamic harmony, like Ikebana, I used 3 different sizes of roses and carefully arranged the 2 different colours. We will create any style of bridal bouquets.

My course at RMIT University, Japanese Aesthetics from Ikebana to Contemporary Art will start again in 2015. Please join the course and meet interesting creative students.