Ikebana or “the art of arranging flowers” is an ancient floral art form that dates back to the 7th century when flowers were placed at altars. The practice also includes branches, leaves, blossoms and stems that are artfully arranged to make a distinctive statement.
Kimiko, a VAWAA artist, has been practicing this art form for over 13 years.
“My mother and my aunt are Ikebana masters and they recommended me to learn Japanese art of flower arrangement,” she says about how she got started. For her classes, she visits flower markets daily to purchase the freshest blossoms and stems. While the entire oeuvre of Japanese traditions are “too deep and profound to answer,” Kimiko notes that the national tradition of floral arrangement has a variety of aspects. “Japan is a small island country, but our recorded history started in the 7th century and Kyoto had been the capital for over 1000 years,” she says. She and her students go to an Ikebana school to learn and practice the art: some schools are large, some are private. “I've studied Ikebana under our grandmaster's instruction and guidance for 17 years, and still go to lessons regularly,” she says, noting that it is important to maintain one’s skill set.
We caught up with her in our “Take Five” to see what else inspires her apart from her art.
Q: What notable books have you read recently?
It's a bit difficult to introduce since mostly it's written in Japanese. But biographies of Isamu Noguchi and Hiroshi Sugimoto (he is still alive, though) were very nice. Now I'm reading "The Book of the Dead" written by Shinobu Origuchi.
Q: How do you take time to celebrate life and your family?
As I'm really happy to meet new people and organize my business, I work to celebrate my life; creating my own artworks or helping my tea master's ceremony are meaningful for me, too.
Q. Are you always searching for inspiration and how do you find it?
I learn a lot from my ikebana master and tea ceremony master. Walking in nature and visiting galleries and museums are also inspiring.
Q. Name a few favorite places you often visit in your hometown.
Murin-an Garden (the magnificent retirement villa and gardens of a great statesman, Yamagata Aritomo, in the verdant Higashiyama hills), Kahitsukan Museum (Kyoto Museum of Contemporary Art) and Prinz Café in Kyoto (an art gallery, bookshop, garden and library with live music).
Q. What are some of your most favorite recent vacation spots?
Domestic hidden onsen (hot spring) spots and New Zealand. Japanese love nature, everything in nature is beautiful.
To experience a 3-day mini apprenticeship with Kimiko and learn about the art and craft of Ikebana, visit her artist page.
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