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Ikebana's beauty going on display

Date Posted: 2010-03-18

Ikebana, the traditional Japanese art of flower arrangement often called the “way of flowers”, will be displayed to the public March 26th ~ 28th by the Ikebana International Okinawa Chapter Annual Flower Exhibition.

The three-day exhibition at Mitsukoshi Department Store on Kokusai Street in Naha will feature dozens of Ikebana flower displays from most of the local Ikebana chapter’s 131 members. The chapter, one of hundreds belonging to Ikebana International, was founded in 1959 by a small group that included Keiko Nakajima Robbins Sensei, who continues to be an active participant in the Okinawa Chapter. She’s the highest sensei in Okinawa of the Sensho Ikenobo School Seika Chapter, and teaches at the USO.

Ikebana practitioners in Okinawa are a mix of Japanese, American and international members, most of whom will be displaying their creativity during the weekend show at Mitsukoshi. While not necessarily a difficult art, it takes patience, perseverance and practice to work up through the ranks. Classes are available throughout Okinawa, both off base and on base, with classes on base available through the Sensho Ikenobo School Seika Chapter. Classes and independent study with a sensei off base are available from a variety of different Ikebana schools in Okinawa.

Each Ikebana school has many forms, which are the variety of styles of flower arrangements. Students wanting to become a sensei must reach a level of proficiency with each form he or she learns, a process that takes many years. It’s not necessary to strive toward being a sensei; many participate in the art of Ikebana purely for the love of flowers and flower arrangements.

Ikebana’s a compilation of many art forms, each unique and distinct. What is particularly unique with Ikebana is the use of branches as a central part of the flower arrangement, sometimes to the exclusion of leaves of the flower or branch. Flower arts in other countries do not necessarily use branches, but the combinations of branches, flowers, leaves and greenery are used in Ikebana arrangements. Sometimes, the vines, fruits, vegetables, seeds and dried plant materials are also used.

There is no special Okinawan ‘form’ of Ikebana, with each Ikebana school in Okinawa following the forms of that school. However, because of Okinawa’s sub-tropical climate, Okinawa Chapter sensei’s are often able to use sub-tropical plants and flowers not available to Ikebana members in other climates. Ikebana practitioners love the art itself, but adhere to the Ikebana theme of harmony between spiritual heaven, hearth and humanity. Additional spiritual aspects of Ikebana depend on the beliefs, philosophy and practices of each individual Ikebana school.

Aside from the traditional aspects of Ikebana, which date back more than five centuries to Ikenobo, the oldest school of Ikebana which began in mainland Japan, Ikebana is an opportunity for camaraderie among members, who describe themselves as “very kind, caring and encouraging to one another.” They say “learning each new challenging form, mastering a form and incorporating the philosophy and rules of one’s school in each arrangement,” are great accomplishments.

The Ikebana International Okinawa Chapter Annual Flower Exhibition takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each of the three days on the sixth floor of Mitsukoshi Department Store. Admission tickets may be purchased at the door for ¥500.

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