|A Lesson in Flower Arrangement by |
Theodore Wores, 19th-century American painter.
The arrangement isn't necessarily very ikekbana-like,
but Wores got the kimono right, as well as the
traditional way of sitting on the floor.
One of the facets of Japanese life that I learned a lot about, but never got the chance to participate in, except as a teacher, was the practice of taking lessons. Any lessons. In Japan, all kinds of lessons are offered.
You can study one of the Japanese arts, such as ikebana (flower arranging), sumi-e (ink-wash painting), chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony, also called sadō), how to wear kimono, how to play a koto or shamisen (traditional musical instruments), or how do a traditional fan dance (ougi). You can learn any number of martial arts, such as karate (empty-handed fighting), kendō (bamboo sword fighting), aikidō (fighting with harmonious spirit), judō (gentle way fighting), or kyūdō (Japanese style archery). Young single women often take lessons with the goal of becoming an accomplished shufu (housewife). They can take lessons in traditional Japanese style cooking, including how to prepare the perfect rice, or learn Chinese cooking, party cooking, or how to prepare a box lunch (o-bentō). And, of course, you can study English conversation.
|Lady Playing Koto, drawn by Settei Hasegawa in 1878|
|One of my latest arrangements, done in October 2013.|
This is a nage-ire (tall vase) hanging style from the
Ichiyō School of Ikebana. Pine branches and
chrysanthemums in a tall silver glass vase set on a
lacquered wooden stand.
While I lived in Tokyo, I found a specialty shop not far from where I lived that sold special vases for ikebana. Other women buy shoes or clothes when they're depressed. I bought vases. Some of them even made it back to the United States in once piece, even though none has survived the the entire twenty-seven years I have been back. That's not entirely surprising, given the number of times I have relocated since returning from my decade in Japan.
I guess you could say that studying ikebana is one way in which my experience of Japan has been extended a bit. I started to take ikebana lessons long after I moved back to the United States, thanks to Meetup.com, where I found an ikebana teacher a mere five-minute drive from my home. She gives lessons in the Ichiyo school. Although I no longer live in the Twin Cities (in Minnesota), I continue to study with her, scheduling lessons whenever I return to visit friends or family. There are five courses, with twenty lessons each: primary, secondary, advanced, research, and instructor courses. I have two lessons left to take in the basic course, after which I can get a certificate of completion. If possible, I'd like to take all the courses offered, and perhaps someday I will be able to have a lesson with a visiting master teacher from Japan. :-)