Even Withered Flowers Can Bloom
Senko Ikenobo

Headmaster Designate of Ikenobo

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Ikebana is the traditional Japanese art of flower arrangement. Its origins lie in the 550-year-old Ikenobo school. Headmaster Designate Senko Ikenobo speaks about what she aspires to through her art.


The following are excerpts from our interview.

Because it was the UN, I tried to get together flowers from as many countries as I could. So I had bamboo from Puerto Rico. I had a flower from the Netherlands. And I made an arrangement out of everything. What was interesting was that everybody was reacting to different things. For example, someone from Korea was very intrigued by the fact that I would bow before starting, and when I’d finished with my arrangement I’d bow to the finished piece. I explained that I bow in order to show gratitude to nature, as well as to show my thanks to everybody who had gathered, with whom I was sharing this experience—spending this time together. And they were very intrigued by that.

One lady from Macedonia... she explained to me that at the UN, she was always busy going from one task to the next. But watching my ikebana demonstration, giving all her focus to the flowers quietly being given life...and seeing how the audience was also watching quietly...it made her stop to take stock, to reflect on how she wanted to approach her daily life. So each person watching had a different reaction, a different interpretation to this one ikebana arrangement, depending on their culture, depending on their position in life at that place and time. I was just so very pleased to see that.

Each and every plant and tree has its own life, its own distinct qualities. So each one is different, but there’s mutual respect, and that t creates this internal harmony. That is the philosophy of ikebana. The mindset in ikebana is to acknowledge diversity, and from there, create a world in harmony. Our society is currently in chaos, and we have both economic and social disparity. Society is such that we can’t help but feel there are all these walls being put up. And in times like these, I believe that ikebana approach could shed some light on where we should go from here.

You cannot change society or the economy that quickly, but by becoming familiar with the ikebana mindset, you can start applying those lessons to your own daily life. It gives you a chance to rethink your own mindset. In its own small, small way, it plants the seeds for bringing about world peace. It’s small but the potential there is big. I truly believe that.

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