Given the freedom to create your own arrangement, the class encourages creativity (Photo: Sophia Warren)

Ikebana Class in Kawagoe

Try your hand at traditional flower arranging!

Given the freedom to create your own arrangement, the class encourages creativity (Photo: Sophia Warren)
Sophia Warren   - 3 min read

Ikebana, or Kado, is a Japanese style flower arrangement that focuses not solely on the flower but also on the beauty of a plant's leaves and stems to create a unique display. Unlike the very full and multicolored bouquets often seen in western style flower arranging, Ikebana draws more attention to creating a scene or symbols with the plants at hand. Derived from Buddhism and Shintoism, Ikebana as has spiritual connotations such as patience and relaxation through art. Though it takes years of practice and studying to truly hone the craft, a class in a Kawagoe community center gives locals and foreigners the opportunity to learn the "way of flowers."

Although the majority of students are Japanese, there is no need to be hesitant in taking a class as the Ikebana sensei, Rihou-san, has taught foreigners numerous times. However, those with at least some Japanese speaking ability will gain more out of the experience and have an easy time truly following along in class.

The hour long class begins with setting up all of the plants, pots, and tools needed to prepare your arrangement. Each student starts out with the same apparatus and types of flora. The teacher gives a basic explanation of the image students should attempt recreating, but from there, students are allowed to attempt building an arrangement by themselves. Testing out different angles and configurations of the flowers, students can exercise their creativity through Ikebana.

Rihou-sensei is well acquainted with Ikebana as his mother too taught the craft. With over fifty years of experience, Rihou’s lively manner of teaching is fun and encouraging for those new to Ikebana. He often gives students advice on better ways to prop certain branches or help adjust their work so far. Rihou not only teaches in Kawagoe on Wednesdays but also on Tuesdays in Ageo.

Don’t get too attached after successfully completing your first arrangement as you’ll quickly deconstruct it to try again. The point here is not necessarily to make an Ikebana arrangement and take home your finished work of art, but rather to practice your assembling skills and improve upon what you’ve created within the class time.

A fantastic way to thoroughly experience Japanese culture and get to know locals, this Ikebana class will make for a memorable experience.

Sophia Warren

Sophia Warren @sophia.warren