The year 2007 has been celebrated all over India as the 50th year of Indo-Japan friendship. In Chennai also, ABK-AOTS Dosokai have sponsored several exhibitions and cultural events to mark the occasion. As part of the celebrations, we had two Ikebana exhibitions as well in the city.
As an Ikebana teacher myself, I was doubly delighted that this year was also the 80th anniversary year for the Sogetsu school of Ikebana. It was with much anticipation that I decided to attend the show in Tokyo, titled “Blooming Flowers For Tomorrow.”
Having started in the Buddhist temples as an offering of flowers, Ikebana emphasizes “livingness” or Ikeru. It stands apart from other floral decorations, by its emphasis of the display of Line, the use of asymmetry, and other art concepts like texture, rhythm, form and colour.
The Sogetsu school has been arguably the most important school in spreading global awareness about the ancient floral art of Ikebana, moving it from its original spiritual roots to a modern art form. Founded by Sofu Teshigahara, the school has thrived under four different Iemotos, from the Teshigahara family. (The title of iemoto is hereditary, and can be translated as “grandmaster” or “founder”.) I have had the honour to be associated with all four of the Iemotos, and a witness to the wonderful metamorphosis of Ikebana, through the years. Founder Sofu was attracted by old, worm-eaten wood, what he called “Nature’s Sculpture”, favouring the camellia flower. Daughter Kasumi loved lacquer-ware, especially the traditional Japanese handcart, and her heart went to small, light-coloured flowers which she would use in abundance. Son Hiroshi on the other hand, with a background in film-making and ceramics, loved to work with bamboo, and the Sogetsu displays became bold, large and dynamic. Hiroshi’s daughter Akane, is the current Iemoto, and she has moved further creatively, experimenting with combining other art forms and highlighting the process of creation itself.
At the Sogetsu School, the student begins to learn several styles called kakei, that help the student grasp the concepts of line, space, shape and patterns in Ikebana. Sogetsu believes that once the technique is mastered, individual expression must be lively and free. Ikebana may go forth into any space and by the free play of our creative spirit, assume a wealth of different forms.
My email interview with Sensei Akane will follow