Japanese Ikebana Blooms in Kyiv
Kyiv, March 2, 2012. The exhibition of Japanese flower arrangement style – ikebana – opened in Kyiv at the Ukrainian Center of Culture and Art on March 1, 2012. The exhibition celebrated the traditional Japanese doll festival Hinamatsuri and the 550th anniversary since inception of the Ikenobō School, where students are taught how to create ikebana. In addition, the year of 2012 marks 20 years of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Japan. The collection of flowers and dolls, made by students of both Kyiv and Kyoto, represents the cooperation and camaraderie between the twin-cities.
The exhibition featured presentations and master classes by professors of ikebana Yamada Midori (Japan), and Angela Lobastov (Moldova). Both artists are renowned and influential figures among the Ikenobō lovers across Ukraine as they have already hosted several ikebana workshops in the country. The exhibition showcased their own creations, along with over 50 works of art by their students and colleagues of the Kyiv School of Ikebana.
“Today we welcome you at the ikebana exhibition. I think that ikebana demonstrates to people, in our case Ukrainians, the Japanese approach to nature. It gives a better understanding of how, in Japan, we see our place in nature, how we interact with nature and how we treat it. I hope that today, while observing the ikebana exhibition, you will be able to obtain a better understanding of ikebana and its importance. I also hope that the exhibition will help you find your own place in the nature,” said Osama Midzutani, Representative of Ukrainian-Japanese Cultural Center.
Ikebana symbolizes deep aspects in approach and spirituality. Every style of ikebana speaks of a specific time in history and origin; it is more than simply flower arranging per se putting flowers in a container, it is the display of creative expression. The emphasis is in areas of shape, line, and form by use of stems and leaves, differentiating itself from the contrary idea of floral arrangement of multicolored blooms. Ikebana is the presentation of minimalism, a structure achieved with plant components symbolizing, what is believed, heaven, man, sun, moon, and earth. It is understood that ikebana inspires the practitioner to identify with beauty in all art forms. It unravels the intolerance and the impatience, it invites clarity of nature to the creator, and thus to achieve this, one must be in complete and utter silence while composing.
“The art of ikebana is very complicated and profound. I would say I’ve been studying it for almost 60 years but I feel like I am still studying it. It’s just endless. When I work with ikebana flowers they talk to me. It takes a huge amount of time to select the flowers that will be used for the composition and then it takes a lot of time to create the actual composition. I would say it’s a pretty hard job,” Yamada Midori.
To celebrate Hinamatsuri, or Girls’ Day traditionally held on March 3, a collection of Japanese dolls were displayed at the exhibition. The ornamental dolls represent the emperor, empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period. Placement of these hand crafted and decorated dolls are arranged based on their displayed class or representing feature. Accordingly, the first tier or platform holds just two dolls of imperial depiction. The second one holds their court hands, or ladies. The third platform holds the dolls playing instruments, the musicians and singer. Other descending platforms may hold furnished sets in which the imperial dolls live, such as chests, or even an ox drawing a cart of flowers. Although these ancient Japanese events would fanfare an array of shine and splendor, simply with the vanity of its formal gowns and costumes, each event was inappreciable without the presence of musicians and their musical instruments.
The oldest forms of traditional Japanese music date as far back as the Nara and Heian periods. “I will introduce to you with a pleasure – tsekuhati – a Japanese bamboo flute that has been used by people in order to understand nature. The flute can be used to play pretty much any music genre, however I will be performing a piece of classical meditation called Honki Yoku. The tradition of Honki Yoku is more than 500 years old. Personally, I became involved with this music because the sound penetrated me and touched something profound inside of me. I didn’t start playing immediately, but after a few years the instrument came to me and we started getting to know each other,” said a Japanese Flute Musician at the exhibition.
Such an event is not a rarity in Ukraine and Kyiv in particular, the city which respects customs and traditions of other peoples. On September 1, 2011, the Japanese delegation visited Kyiv to honor Kyoto Days. Japanese representatives planted cherry blossoms along the 1,800 meter long avenue in the Kyoto Park of Kyiv. The park was founded in 1972, the year of signing the Cooperation and Development Agreement between the twin-cities Kyiv and Kyoto. All things considered, the ikebana and Hinamatsuri exhibition is just a reminder of how the cultural exchange of two very different cultures unite the people within, impelling us to find and understand our place in nature.
“Our event today is dedicated to the 20th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relationship between Ukraine and Japan. And the Ikebana school is a very active participant in the Ukrainian-Japanese cultural exchange. We as an embassy are very pleased with such an activity, and we support it in all possible ways. The Japanese believe that a person’s soul is in the flowers of ikebana, that’s why ikebana art is very important to us and our Ukrainian comrades,” said Japanese Embassy Attaché.