Camp Zama class teaches basics of ‘ikebana,’ the art of Japanese flower arranging

Aki Schucker participates in a class on the Japanese art of flower arrangement, or “ikebana,” at Camp Zama, Japan, Jan. 25, 2020.
Aki Schucker participates in a class on the Japanese art of flower arrangement, or “ikebana,” at Camp Zama, Japan, Jan. 25, 2020.

Camp Zama class teaches basics of ‘ikebana,’ the art of Japanese flower arranging

by Winifred Brown
US Army Garrison - Japan

CAMP ZAMA (Jan. 28, 2020) – Saori Komura began her class on the Japanese art of flower arranging, known as “ikebana,” with advice she wanted her students to retain long after the class ended.

“You can arrange the flowers as you feel [them to be] beautiful,” Komura told her six students at the Camp Zama Arts and Crafts Center Jan. 25. “Whatever you try, it will not be a failure, so please don’t be nervous. There is no need to rush. So please enjoy ikebana.”

Because it was a beginner’s class, Komura taught her students how to make arrangements out of three types of flowers: calla lilies, Japanese pussy willows and leatherleaf ferns. Participants could also add baby’s breath flowers at the end, but it was optional.

Komura showed her students how to properly cut flowers and arrange them on a “kenzan,” a heavy plate covered with sturdy needles that holds the flowers upright in a vase.

Komura started with the pussy willows, showing the class how to cut them to the correct length and arrange them in a triangle shape on the kenzan. Next came the three lilies, and Komura explained how to choose the best lily for each length depending on how much the flower had bloomed. Participants had a bowl of water to cut the flowers in so that they would begin sucking up water right away.

The class size was limited to six, and Komura gave each student individualized attention as necessary.

Amanda Rios, who took the class with her daughter Sophia, said she signed up because she wanted to learn more about the Japanese art with her daughter.

“I thought it was wonderful,” Rios said. “They provided all the materials and we get to take [everything] home … I love to keep flowers in the home, but I didn’t know how to arrange them.”

The center allowed participants to take the vases, kenzan and flower cutters home so they could practice with a guide that Komura provided. The flowers should last about two weeks, she said, and participants should return the materials when the flowers have died.

Rhianna Santos, branch manager of the Navy Federal Credit Union on Camp Zama, took the class with her colleagues Brittany Priddy and Aki Schucker as a team-building exercise.

“It looked fun and we haven’t done this before,” Santos said. “It was a good opportunity and we wanted to jump on it, and [we] had so much fun. I got to be around people I absolutely love being around. It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning.”

Santos said she was grateful that the installation’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation offered the class.

“We love the opportunities that are afforded to us here, especially in this overseas environment, so we can just work together and have fun at the same time,” Santos said.

Komura emphasized that she wanted her students to enjoy ikebana, and by the end, students were having fun while staying on task and creating professional-looking flower arrangements.

Komura, who also teaches painting and drawing at the center and holds a bachelor’s degree in Japanese art history from Seijo University in Seijo, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, has been studying the “Hanako” style of ikebana in Ebina for two years.

There are many ikebana schools in Japan, Komura said, and there are also different styles.

The Hanako style originated from the classical ikebana style of “Seika” in the mid-Edo era, or 1760s, Komura said, and Seika is based on the three core elements of the universe: “ten,” or heaven; “chi,” or earth; and “jin,” or human beings.

The Hanoko style incorporates the “jiyu-ka” concept that artists should arrange the flowers so they reflect how plants exist in nature, with just a few artistic touches, Komura said. Today, the style incorporates new trends influenced by foreign flowers and vases.

Komura plans to offer another ikebana class from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 17. The class will cost $30 and needs a minimum of three students and a maximum of six students to sign up. The last day to sign up is April 10.

For more information, visit the Arts and Crafts Center in Building 360B or call DSN (315) 263-4412 or COMM 046-407-4412.

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