I have always been fascinated with Japanese culture, especially their views on nature. So I jumped at the chance to learn a bit about ikebana as an extra to my floristry course. This was the perfect opportunity to learn with a teacher, while receiving guidance and feedback during a 6-week course.
I’ve known Azusa Kito for some time now, a sweet and very friendly Japanese woman that teaches different art forms such as ikebana, origami and tea ceremonies, among others. She was the perfect choice to plunge into a first-hand experience with flowers.
Each class was structured in a similar fashion. With five people in total, this was a small and intimate gathering of people passionate about flowers. Azusa would start each class by explaining the ikebana style that we would be learning that day, presenting her own creation for us to study. We learned Japanese words related to ikebana and details about Japanese culture.
Before starting our ikebana, we would meditate for a few minutes. After a busy day of work, there was nothing better than entering Azusa’s space, closing your eyes and breathing. Letting go of the tension accumulated during the previous hours.
I’m not going to go into details about ikebana, as there is already so much information online. What I will share is the emotional aspect. With a supply of foliage and flowers, it was a unique experience to study each stem, the leaves, the angle and tilt of each flower. This is a slow process that demands attention and concentration. This is a tribute to nature.
After selecting the precise elements to be used, the idea is to very slowly build the arrangement. Using both hands at all times, while engaging sight, smell and touch. Enjoying the silence and the occasional sounds from scissors or sighs.
It was curious to see how five people could create totally different ikebana with the same elements, adding their personal touch and vision. The excitement at the end of each class was contagious. The complete satisfaction of creating something of beauty.
The classes flew by too quickly and soon it was time to create our own personal ikebana. What attracts me to this Japanese style is the austere aspect. The use of few elements in order for the flowers and leaves, the stems, even the imperfections to really shine. There is no clutter. I often find traditional flower arranging to be overpowering, a riot of colour and texture. The individual beauty of each element is often obscured. But I know that I have to learn everything at moment. There will be time enough to follow my own rules and tastes.