The Power of the Ikebana Flower
Tomoko Atsumi, wife of Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica Yasuhiro Atsumi, arrived on the island a mere six months ago. She has however, wasted little time in reawakening the passion many already have for Ikebana, the art of Japanese floral arrangement. Atsumi is no neophyte. Ikebana is in her blood. Her mother is a master of the Sogetsu School of Flower Ikebana, and she tells SO Gardening, “Ikebana has always been a part of my life since I was a child… having Ikebana in my life gives me a sense of relaxation and peace of mind and enhances my life. They are indispensable to me.”
There’s more to glean. “Flower arrangement,” she adds, “is said to be an aesthetic of addition, while Ikebana is said to be an aesthetic of subtraction. Flower arrangements are created with the image of using many flowers to fill a space, while Ikebana displays are created with as few flowers, plants, and trees as possible to create space.
“This space-creating Ikebana is an important part of Japanese culture where one can experience the beauty of ‘ma’ (space) and ‘yohaku’ (blank space). Ikebana is not only gorgeous, but it also allows its students to develop their beauty and sensitivity.
“In Jamaica, there are, at least, three Ikebana teachers. They have always created wonderful Ikebana works for the emperor’s birthday reception and other events organised by the Embassy of Japan,” she shared.
Atsumi, however, in her desire to introduce Ikebana to more of the population, recently initiated four Ikebana trial classes facilitated by Jamaican experts at the official residence. A total of 41 women participated and the feedback, according to Atsumi, was positive.
Indeed, former Jamaican Ambassador to Japan Claudia C Barnes expressed how honoured she was to have been invited to the Ikebana event. “I enjoyed every minute of the presentation and the demonstration. This was also truly nostalgic, evoking memories of my stay in Japan.”
For her part Naomi Yanai Shepherd, wife of the UK deputy high commissioner, was appreciative of the amazing cultural immersion the event afforded. “It was a huge success! Everybody loved the experience… as it offered not only an Ikebana class but a true cultural experience. Plus, a very delicious anmitsu, a Japanese dessert made of small cubes of agar jelly, a white translucent jelly made from red algae. The agar is dissolved with water to make the jelly,” she concluded.
Atsumi plans more opportunities to learn about Japanese culture and naturally the art of Ikebana.