Thursday 17 May 2018

Ikebana Today No.69

Ikebana booms in Japan were socio-cultural phenomenon. Looking into their history helps understand Japanese society better. I hope some will investigate them in a more academic context. Such research may also reveal the secrets of how to succeed in business. One of them seems to be simply providing innovative and attractive products responding to clients’ needs. 

I’d like to make a few comments on the Ikebana boom in the Meiji (1868 - 1912) to Taisho era (1912 - 1926) . Prior to this boom Ikebana was taught in private. Teachers did not set the tuition fees, and the students payed according to their financial situations. I sometimes think that might be a good system. I set my tuition fees rather low so that I can train as many competent qualified teachers as possible in a shortest period of time. However, I may change my approach shortly. Those who join the class because of rather cheap fees don’t usually complete the long journey of learning Ikebana. Setting fees low does not necessary help achieve my goal. Anyway, it was after this boom that a group lesson in a classroom was introduced with set fees.

Traditionally most Ikebana teachers were male. However, number of female teachers increased significantly during this boom. Reason? A large number of Japanese men died during the Sino-Japanese War (1894 - 95) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904 - 05). Becoming an Ikebana teacher was attractive, but often one of the limited choices for some war widows.   

It is also notable that kenzan played a important role in this boom. It seems that it was invented during Meiji and had been reinvented after that. As I mentioned last month, Moribana was the hit product after Taisho era. Its easiness and popularity depend largely on kenzan.   

This is a work I made for my client at their home party. Rather unusual combination of materials made this work interesting. In April I’ll present a paper at the International Academic Forum in Kobe, and at a university in Romania. That must be a good time to see sakura.