Thursday, August 13, 2015

Day 27 - First Workshop: Ikebana

Yesterday's jogging wasn't as sweaty and exhausting as the last time, because the weather chilled a bit down (to the low 30ies) due to showers. And I even saw a shooting star in the sky - not a big surprise though it's shooting star season (Perseids meteor shower).

Today was the first time I had to set the alarm, because my ikebana class started at 10 a.m. I found the place on third attempt, and was welcomed so nicely! The manager of these different classes invited me in and we spoke a little about us. Her English was perfect, due to her 15-month stay in Sydney some years ago! After some minutes, a couple from Turkey joined us who celebrated their second wedding anniversary today! As an introduction to this ikebana class, our teacher told us about the history and the Japanese thoughts behind. Ikebana isn't just a flower decoration, it is an expression of the Japanese understanding of nature. Because of their Buddhist religion, Japanese are very bound to nature, and as a result, they want flowers to bring nature into their house. Of course ikebana changes from season to season, and you cannot find all flowers all the times. To underline this seasonal feeling for the observer, you should choose the flowers and plants that are seasonal: cherry blossoms in spring, wonderful red maple in autumn, pine tree branches as a symbol for the special o-bon festival season (in August, our current theme) and special yellow flowers to "show respect". Another trick, especially for summer and winter is to use plants that grow near water to let you feel cooler by observing, or plants that have an especially warm color to warm you up.

There even exists some sort of philosophy behind older ikebana or kado styles: the ikebana is constructed from three branches, the highest, lowest and middle one, representing heaven, earth and creatures (i.a. humain beings). But the main thing in kado is to imagine the flower's life while you observe it. From the bud to blossom to death - yes, even dead plants find its place in kado.

What I didn't know is that you fake the stability by a circle of spikes and try to hide it behind some ikebana flowers... So that's why my earlier ikebana didn't work too well, eh.

We spontaneously decided to visit the Eikan-do. We'd never thought that this temple would be this big! Accompanied by deep bell sounds we walked through the wonderful garden, and even saw some red maples, the one's that are red all year, at least. And we saw a monk cutting the moss with a trimmer - I didn't even know moss has to be cut at all.

As we are at the peak of the o-bon festival season, the Kodai-ji temple we visited this evening illuminates its big garden, not only the temple itself. A highlight of this evening certainly was the (small) bamboo garden. There even was a light show in a Zen garden - like the one from day 24 at Nijo Castle, but not as impressive. The music wasn't loud enough to "feel" it and the clip a little too short, but anyway.

What I learned? If I should become a postman, I wouldn't go to Japan - every delivery person constantly runs (instead of walking) to demonstrate his/her commitment to the job! Very sporty job here, though. Even gas station attendants must be cool, because the fuel pumps hang down from the ceiling and need to be grabbed and put down to the car. And I wouldn't ever become a cab driver. It must be very stressful job because they constantly cut the way of bikers that they seem to generally dislike - a biker's life doesn't seem to be as important as a client appointment or a good rank in the cab queue...

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