The two-room shop was much smaller than those you might be used to in the states, but beautiful and charming. The owner is Shigehito Hiramitsu, who trained in floral arranging for more than a decade before opening his shop. He and his wife hosted nine of us Americans as we embarked on a ikebana flower arranging project Thursday. Actually, as he was quick to point out, the project we did is not specifically ikebana in style, but is inspired by it. To keep it simple, ikebana style includes a "dot" and then a "long line" in its design. Where Western arrangements tend to be full, with many blooms and a focus on the flowers, ikebana is more minimalist with the emphasis more on leaves and stems, the overall simplicity, and form.
We respectfully called Shigehito Hiramitsu a kyosho, or "master" or "teacher," sensei. After all, he was definitely teaching usunflower paintings), a kiku, or chrysanthemum (often used to decorate Buddha statues), a silon stalk (which reminds me of mother-in-law tongue plants), a vine called decuso, which is actually a type of grass, not an actual clinging vine, and gerax leaves as cover for the oasis sponge. In Buddhism, which is where ikebana flower arranging got its, ahem, roots, it is bad form to show that the flowers have been cut, so the leave cover the base of the plants where the oasis sponge rests inside the pot.
something he is an expert in. He designed the project we created, with what he called a Goho sunflower (apparently named after the artist Van Gogh, who is famous for his s
When then followed along with Shigehito Hiramitsu as he recreated his arrangement. I did learn something useful when it comes to cut flowers: They will last longer if you trim the ends with a misugiri, or water cut. While the stem is submerged in water, trim the end off at an angle. This keeps air from touching the new trimmed end and the flower can draw up water faster and longer, making the arrangement last longer. Good to know next time my husband brings me flowers... which may be decades from now, I am note sure. But, still, good to know.
We then took the newly trimmed floral items and placed them strategically in the foam in our best copies of the kyosho's design. When we were through, he very kindly commented on everyone's design, whether they were kawaii (cute) or, as he said about mine, very reminiscent of the ikebana style. OK, maybe I have a knack for flower arranging. Or maybe he is just a very nice man. Either way, I had a great time in the class and would love to learn more about flower arranging, but I hear his classes are hard to get in to because they are popular. I can see why. He is talented and has great enthusiasm for his work. And his good sense of humor doesn't hurt either (neither does his wife's! She was pretty quiet during our visit, but when she did speak, she had some funny things to say!).
Here are some of my favorite photos I took of the shop, and of our class: