I am an ikebana teacher living in Tokyo. Also I've lived in Osaka and Hyogo for several years.
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- A day in a life of ikebana teacher
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It's best time to start something...How about Ikebana?
When a new year begins, we feel like starting new things, don't we? In fact, we see many ads of schools including online or correspondence course. Do you have any special plan for something new? How about trying Ikebana this year? In this article, I will introduce how to start Ikebana lesson.The most important and difficult is to find a school. Below are the ways to find schools.1) Web searchJust as usual search, put in google "Ikebana lesson English Tokyo" or like that. In the result, there will be major school's headquarters information on top. And you'll find some small private schools as well. If you find English page on those sites, you can be sure that the teacher can speak English. Then compare pictures of lesson room, teacher, and works they show on webpage.2) Instagram or blog searchIt's really modern method, but actually many flower artists have IG account, including me. If the artist is a teacher and has own school or lesson, they mention so in profile page or each post. Through IG, you can easily find your favorite works and contact each artist.You can search with hashtag #ikebana #いけばな #生け花This is my IG page. Search @yoonaflowers 3) Cultural Experience program for touristsIf you are visiting, this is the easiest. You can learn the brief history of Ikebana and try it in traditional Japanese room. Also, the students are all foreign beginners. But fees will be expensive and difficult to have next lesson even if you like because it is for "tourists' experience".4) Hobby clubsI heard ten or more years ago, many companies had hobby clubs after work, and Ikebana was one of the major activities. Some of my older Ikebana classmates say they started it from hobby clubs. But recently, many companies abolished such circles as the recession goes or other reasons.5) Paper ads in newsletterYou'll find some ads in your city's newsletter. Fees are little cheaper than other schools, but most of those schools are not bilingual (and in my opinion, the students might be elder than you).Most of the classes have one-time trial lesson, and fees will be around 3,000 yen to 5,000 yen. Normally you can borrow the goods needed, so all you need is a towel to wipe hands, apron if you wear delicate clothes. After the lesson, you can have flowers used in the lesson (material fee are normally included in lesson fee) to re-arrange them at home for review. Lesson timetable and number of students are different on teachers. Some open only private class on requests, others regularly have 10+ students at one time. If you are more interested in Ikebana and want to continue, you can visit several schools for trial and find your favorite. Next time, I will write about the materials/tools which I use for Ikebana.Oh I forgot to say... Of course, I can teach you if you are looking for a teacher in Tokyo!!!
Tips to arrange new year's flowers
I was so busy and sick for last few months and couldn't post articles... Now I recovered and will start introducing Ikebana again!2016 is almost over, and we are preparing for the new year, 2017. Most of Japanese houses, shops, buildings decorate their gates or doors with new year ornaments. It's one of the Japanese traditional ways to celebrate new year and you can get detailed information through books or web, but if I explain very briefly, we decorate them "to welcome gods of the new year to our houses/facilities". Not only at doors, we arrange Ikebana arrangements inside. There is no specific rules, but we prefer to use certain materials to make our works more special. Each material has own meanings to be selected for arrangements. Let's see what they are.This is my work for 2017.I'm sure that most of the ikebana artists usually use pine tree (Matsu 松) as main materials. Pine trees are symbol of longevity and youth, because their leaves are always green and not be fallen off throughout the year, even in dry and cold winter season. Also, the sound "Matsu" is the same as "Matsu 待つ to wait". So it means we are waiting for gods' arrival to our house.I added colorful materials afterwards. Since we are going to celebrate, brilliant colors such as red, white,yellow, gold and silver are preferred for new year arrangements. As I mentioned before, there's no rule, so it's OK to use pink or other bright colors. But I personally think red, yellow or white will help our arrangements look more traditional.Then I used round shaped yellow chrysanthemum (Kiku 菊). Chrysanthemums are used in many ikebana arrangements regardless of seasons because they look very Japanese-like with their colors and shape. Not only that, they last long in water, so we like them as luck of health.Then I put some branches with tiny red fruits, they are Senryo 千両. Senryo is Japanese, means Sen (thousand)-Ryo(old Japanese currency), and is thought to bring lots of money or fortune.Similar plant called Manryo 万両(Man means ten thousands) is also used in arrangements as fortune item. Search in Wikipedia pageAt last, I chose red tulip, white baby's breath and gold-painted willow to add colors.Below is another arrangement for new year, which I made in Hawaii. Compared to Japan, Hawaii has limited materials for ikebana arrangement due to different climate. But it's still possible.My teacher prepared pine tree, bamboo, white chrysanthemum and plastic plum branches (if it's extremely hard to get it, you can use artificial ones). Bamboo (Take 竹) is popular item for new year with its straight shape, representing strong growth. And plum trees (Ume 梅) are known for symbol of good luck or success, because they start to bloom in winter, earlier than other flowers.Now do you think you can try it? Or you concern that you don't have enough space in room to put works or can't get enough materials? Don't give up! You still can make it!This is made of leftover after lesson; one short gold colored willow, one short yellow chrysanthemum and three short pieces of senryo. Simple work, isn't it?Try to create your own new year arrangement with these tips. But please note that 29th and 31st Dec. is not preferable to set, because the date 29th 二十九 (Niju-ku) sounds as the same as 二重苦(Niju-ku; double troubles), and 31st is too late to prepare for gods. Sorry to update this article on 29th... we have only tomorrow, 30th left to prepare....Anyway, have a great new year!
Ikebana means flower arrangement. True or false?
I lived in Hawaii for 6 months last year, and had opportunity to make many foreign friends there. Some knew well about Japan while others didn't, of course. One day, one of my European friends asked me "Do you eat sushi every day?" No! We don't eat sushi daily unless we are 寿司職人(Sushi-Shokunin: Sushi chef) !!Keep talking about Japanese people and culture, we are not living in traditional styles. We don't wear 着物(Kimono) often, actually I do, but most of Japanese don't. We have few chance to be dressed in it... to attend some ceremony in childhood, and many girls wear it at the age of 20 to celebrate coming of age. Also, only one or two of my friends have experienced 茶道(Sa-dou :tea-ceremony) , and it's same as ikebana.When explaining ikebana, we call it as "Japanese flower arrangement". It's correct because the word 生け花(or いけばな, ikebana) is made of 生ける(orいける, ike-ru ; to arrange) and 花(or はな hana; flowers). But ikebana and flower arrangement is technically different. Some of my Japanese friends don't know it, so I tell them briefly as below.Flower arrangement is basically like these.Make round or other kind of shape by adding flowers and leaves. Containers are full of flowers.While ikebana looks like this.We use least materials and make space between flowers to create the shape. The space between and around the materials consist the arrangement.In other words, flower arrangement is made by + (plus, adding), and ikebana is -(minus, cutting). So these are technically not the same.I don't want to confuse you, but the story above is about the very BASIC ikebana. When we finish basic lessons, we do it freely as below.I call it "ikebana", but some might say it is "flower arrangement". Yes, both are correct... Even though I am ikebana teacher, it is difficult to clearly define...
A day in a life of ikebana teacher
First of all, I have to tell you that I'm Japanese. I guess most of the users of City-Cost are foreigners, and I enjoy reading blogs and answering questions. Then I realized how I DON'T know anything about Japanese things... from daily shopping spot, to cultures like annual festivals or sightseeing area, even though I was born and grown up in Japan! It's a shame!It's also embarrassing to say I'm studying and teaching IKEBANA, traditional Japanese flower arrangement. It's weird, what a paradox. To become better teacher and more "Japanese", I'll start reviewing my days, and also will share it through this blog.Let me excuse, but I'm sure many many Japanese, especially young generations, don't know much about our culture and can't explain it to foreigners. (It's not because they don't speak English well but they don't have topic to talk) So please read my blog as "a day of a Japanese girl". Nothing special, but it's real.I'll write about ikebana next time!