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Ikebana: Lisa Okazaki and the Way of Flower Arrangement

Mariko Yokosuka and Kyoko Takano (Japan Center Co-Directors) welcome Lisa Okazaki (Grade 12) to the Japan Center, where she is offering monthly presentations on ikebana during activity period.

This school year, the Japan Center will focus on the theme of dou ( ). The character 道, read michi or dou in Japanese, translates to “path” or “the way of,” respectively. The latter dou is a term used to denote the fundamental principle underlying a system of thought or belief, an art or a skill. It is commonly used to describe the code of behavior in traditional Japanese disciplines.

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Kado (華道)  or ikebana (生け花), the art of traditional Japanese flower arrangement, is an example of a dou discipline, an art that high school senior Lisa Okazaki is passionate about and has been practicing since she was 9 years old. In order to spread the dou philosophy to the ASIJ community, we have coordinated with Lisa to provide monthly ikebana performances during activity period. She shares her story and her experience performing in front of the kindergarteners on September 26:

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I began ikebana when I was 9 years old. My mother had started taking lessons shortly after we moved to Japan and because I was too little to stay home alone, she took me along to the lessons. One day, my mother’s ikebana teacher approached me and asked if I would try making an arrangement. At the time, I didn’t realize just how much this decision was going to impact my life.

I specifically practice the Sougetsu School of Ikebana, one of the most popular schools in ikebana today. The Sougetsu School of Ikebana was founded on the idea: “Anytime, anywhere, by anyone.” This means that ikebana can be practiced anytime of the day, in any location and by anyone, regardless of age or nationality. Currently, I have completed the four basic courses of ikebana and received my ikebana name, Reon. I am working my way towards becoming a shihan, a qualified ikebana teacher. In the future, I hope that as an international student I can connect Japanese culture to other countries through my ikebana arrangements.

When I presented to the kindergarteners, I explained the basic rules of Sougetsu and the materials we use so the students would have a fundamental understanding of how ikebana artists create their arrangements. However, my ultimate goal was to convey the purpose of ikebana arrangements. Ikebana arrangements are created to enhance and celebrate the beauty of nature. By choosing the best flowers for that season and taking special consideration in how to handle the materials, I am not killing the materials but helping to create a bridge between nature and human life.

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I had never done anything like presenting to kindergarten children before; it was so much fun. Interacting with the kindergarten classes and listening to their unique comments has given me new perspective on ikebana and has even given me new ideas for future arrangements. Hopefully the kindergarteners enjoyed my presentation as much as I enjoyed giving it! (Lisa Okazaki, Grade 12)

It is important to note that in the spirit of dou, there is no end in mastering your craft or skill, as it is a lifelong study and a continuous improvement of oneself. At ASIJ, we support students like Lisa who follow their passions and express their ideas creatively through the arts. Please check our Japan Center Calendar for dates on her upcoming performances!