Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Kosa San with Sam and Me

Kosa Nishiyama is a master instructor at the Sogetsu school and a very gracious and elegant lady, one I'm very proud to call my friend. We first met at a Teachers' Workshop 2 years ago, where Kosa San showed me friendship and kindness and we have been communicating ever since.

Last Wednesday we met at the exhibition at Meguro Gajoen, where Kosa San had three exhibits. This is an extraordinarily beautiful old building, around which the modern hotel has been built. I was taken to an exhibition there in 2014 by my friend, Emiko Chishima and, apart from enjoying the exhibition, I particularly loved the old decorations on the walls and ceilings of the various rooms.

Unfortunately, photography is not permitted inside the rooms. In my previous post, I included a photograph of Iemoto's installation at the entrance, the only one we were allowed to photograph. But I was lucky, because Kosa San had photographs of her work and she, very kindly, sent them to me to include in this post.

After walking up the 100 steps into the various rooms to see all the exhibits, Kosa San treated us to a sumptuous lunch at one of the Japanese style rooms at the hotel. All in all, an unforgettable afternoon.

The following day we met up with my friend Renate Willenborg, from Germany, and went to the Issey Miyake Exhibition at the National Art Centre, Tokyo. I confess I knew very little about this artist and his work, but his exhibition and his genius 'blew my mind'. Again, photography was not permitted but I downloaded this photo from their website. 

Then, on Friday the 25th March was Flower Thanks Day and the main reason for my visit to Tokyo. It is a ceremony during which awards and degrees are presented by Iemoto followed by demonstrations by 12 students who have been attending 'demonstration classes'.

The ceremony began by Iemoto placing flowers into containers across several tables. Then followed by teachers in order of seniority, then holders of Riji and, lastly Komon.

Iemoto on the stage which was decorated with split bamboo

After placing my flowers, I'm leaving the stage
At the Tea Party after the ceremony, many people wanted to take a photograph with Iemoto and she, very graciously, obliged. To my left is my friend, Jacquelline from Switzerland
Here I am with Miss Takahira and Jacqueline below the stone garden at headquarters
and above us is a spring installation of bamboo and cherry blossoms.

Front View of decorated stone with Sogetsu emblem at entrance
of Headquarters

Side view of same stone
Sayonara for now,

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Iemoto's stunning spring arrangement at the entry of Meguro Gajoen.

Hi everyone.

So, here we are in beautiful, cold and bustling Tokyo. Unlike my previous arrival to this city, it now feels very familiar and comfortable. Equipped with warm clothes and comfortable walking shoes, we're ready to go.

This is our sixth day and we've been so busy catching up with my Japanese friends that this is the first chance I've had to attend to this blog.

In my three months stay in 2014, I had no need to see a doctor. This time, on our second day, it became necessary to see an orthopaedic surgeon. Nothing too serious but, with a little research, we went along to Sanno Hospital which is around the corner from Sogetsu Kaikan. Apart from being very efficient and service oriented, the hospital decor is very impressive. The entry and waiting room is like the lobby of a luxury hotel (see photo below. I draw your attention to the full sized, grand piano on an elevated platform in the middle of the room.)

I've been overwhelmed by the kindness of my Japanese friends. Each one I've seen so far has gone out of her way to organize interesting things to do during our catch-up.

The Melbourne group will remember past member, Emiko Chishima, with whom we met up on Sunday. We took a leisurely walk around the Edo Tokyo Museum and then to a delicious lunch at a hotel nearby.

I'm sure you'll agree we look well fed.

On Monday we met up, bright and early with Haruko Hiratsuka, a sogetsu teacher and professional tour guide. She had organised for us to visit Kamakura, one of the oldest and most historical cities in Japan. It is also the home of Kyoko Kamakura who was, hitherto, living in Melbourne but recently relocated to Japan. Kyoko booked a restaurant for the four of us for a sumptuous lunch, after which, we said good bye to her and proceeded to visit the many historical attractions of the town. We were very lucky to have Haruko's expertise as she led the way from one attraction to another and provided the commentry.
Haruko, Kyoko, me and Sam
We spent the whole day in Kamakura visiting various sites including Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, the most important Shinto shrine in Kamakura. We had the added bonus of enjoying a mini, solo concert by Italian cellist, Mario Brunelo. He performed outside the shrine to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Japan and Italy.

The Great Bhudda of Kamakura is a bronze statue statue of Amida Buddha and is the second largest bronze statue in Japan. It recently underwent inspection and cleaning and the scaffolding was removed just in time for our visit.

This enormous stump is from a 1000 year old ginko tree that stood at the left of
the great stone stairway to the Shrine. It was uprooted by a storm in 2010.

This is a picture of the tree in its past glory

Just to get this blog back to ikebana from the travel log that it has turned into, I'm leaving you with this wall arrangement I did the day before I left home.

Sayonara until next time,

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

If you're thinking I manipulated these
Kniphofias, you'd be right

In this blog I'd like to veer a little from the norm. I'd like to feature the work of Vicky Kalokathis, who is both my sister and my very first student. Vicky always loved the work I did with ikebana but resisted starting lessons, saying that she would only do so when I started teaching. Well, I held her to it and 12 years later, she is still continuing her lessons and has  become an avid gardener as well, just like the rest of us die-hard ikebanists.

Vicky's is a contemporary house with high ceilings and lots of space and light, the perfect foil for Ikebana. There are always impressive arrangements around the house but during a recent visit, I decided I would feature the arrangements that were there at that time. They were photographed in situ, thus the quality is not as good as they deserve. But what a lovely way to decorate an already beautiful home.

Also, something I don't normally do is to feature basic arrangements. However, I'm making an exception with this next one because I was very impressed with the work of this beginner. Her name is Shaneen Garbutt and she had only two lessons before she made this arrangement. In and of itself, it may not seem remarkable but she did it before I had a chance to demonstrate the lesson for her. She simply followed the diagram in the book and the end result required very little correction. Well done Shaneen!
Cotinus and sedum. Of course, as always, the photo
doesn't show the depth

At last week's Ikebana International meeting we were asked to make an arrangement in a 'special container' because our speaker was an expert in the history of ceramics and porcelain. I have many containers that carry some special significance but none more than the one I used below.

I made this container close to 20 years ago and whilst I was working on it on the kitchen bench, my parents dropped in for a visit. My father, who was a soft spoken man of few words, sat and watched me work the clay over a plastic ball, with a very bemused look on his face but spoke not a word. Dad has been gone a long time now but every time I pick up this container, I see him and that look on his face. Please go to the II webpage to see all the other arrangements.

At our last class I had set the theme 'The challenge of the new'. I had attended a class with this theme run by Iemoto in Tokyo, where we are to use containers we have not used before. Therein lies the challenge.

This is my arrangement and, I have to admit, I found it a lot more challenging than I expected.The bamboo containers are very heavy and chunky, so finding appropriate material was not easy. Also, they were designed as candle holders so the knot is high leaving a shallow area for placement of the material and necessitating the use of kenzans.

Marilyn Woodland
Lucy Papas

Robyn Unglik

Vicky Kalokathis
Helen Novic
Bredenia Raquel
You may remember this arrangement
from my previous post. Siberian
dogwood and belladonnas 
With the passage of time, the dead flowers were replaced
with sedum and miniature Japanese iris leaves. But the delightful
surprise was the dogwood that sprouted leaves that look like butterflies

My husband, Sam and I are flying to Tokyo this week and, hopefully, my next post will be from there but I'll leave you now with this playful little arrangement.

Segment of palm leaf and rose
Bye for now,