Saturday, 3 May 2014

Greek Easter in Tokyo.

In the Greek Orthodox Church Easter is a more important holiday than Christmas and is full of traditions and customs, most prominent of which is the coloured Easter Eggs.

Knowing that I would be here during Easter and that my sister Vicky and her husband Peter would also be here, I packed some egg dye to take with me. Then I found out that my niece Phylicia and her fiancé, Elias would also be here so I was to have a family Easter despite being so far from home.

I dyed the eggs, booked Spyro's Greek Restaurant for dinner on Saturday night and waited for the arrival of family.

Sam and I had discovered Spyro's Restaurant on our trip here in 2010 during soccer World Cup. He was desperate to see Greece play and when he saw an add of Spyro's saying they would be showing the game on a big screen, he couldn't book it fast enough. When we arrived we were met by a tall Japanese man wearing a Greek guernsey with the name 'SAMARAS' on the back. He was Spyro, the owner, whose mother was Japanese and father Greek from, of all places, Kalamata.

In this photo, which was taken in 2010 are - myself, Spyro and his wife, Sam and little Leonidas, who would be about 5 years old now. (I must say, as much as I love the ancient Greek name, Leonidas, I wonder how wise a choice it was for a boy in a country where the letter 'L' is difficult to pronounce).

It was an enjoyable evening marred only by the fact that Greece played dismally against Korea. And here's the irony. Spyro's wife is Korean and most of the waiting staff were her relatives but they were made to wear Greek guernseys on the night that Korea annihilated Greece.

Back to the present. So we had a delicious meal in very pleasant company and in a very Greek setting. The food was a big improvement since 2010 but I did miss the lamb on the spit I would have had back home. For me Easter is not complete without it.

This is the 'Tsoureki' (Easter Bread) that Vicky carried on the plane to bring here. It got a little squashed but tasted just fine.

It doesn't get much more Greek than this.

As we were leaving the Japanese staff thanked us and wished us a good night in flawless Greek and handed us a 'kourapie' (Greek shortbread biscuit dusted with icing sugar).

The dyed Easter eggs also came in handy for the Iemoto class, the theme for which was 'Special Materials and Arrangements for Special Occasions'. I used raspberry canes, which I wove to create a rough sort of nest, extending from the container, on which I rested the eggs. It seemed simple enough when I thought of it but I didn't account for the weight of the eggs. So I had to keep shortening the stems until I managed a fragile equilibrium.

Because of the two dimensional property of the photograph, I should point out that the raspberry canes extend some distance forward and at their base are two lovely yellow orchids.

This arrangement and the use of the red eggs created a lot of interest in the class, especially for the Japanese students. Bisen Sumide sensei asked about the significance of the eggs and then  explained it to the class. At the end of the lesson I gave the eggs to some students, who seemed quite delighted with them.

For her celebratory arrangement, Sumide sensei demonstrated the correct way to arrange Japanese Irises (Hanashobu). The rules are exactly the same as with the Flag Irises, that we have seen our Theresa Feile demonstrate many times. Sensei explained that  Hana means flower and shobu means fighting. So, when arranging for the Boy's Festival, which is on 5th May, the flower needs to be taller than the leaves.

Sensei made two iris arrangements one in a suiban using all the traditional 'rules' and the other in a nageire where she wired the appropriate number of leaves to the front and back of a gorgeous bud. She then used a horizontal fixture to place the bunch slanting forward. Stunning!

I've always loved using my hanashobu irises, which I have growing in pots in a trough with water. I'm really looking forward to when they flower in spring so that I can arrange them in this way.

Bye for now,

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