At the Takashimaya department store, Osaka. The Ikenobo Society celebrates it's 550th year of (recorded) existence. That is since 1462 AD! And a very special society it is. The initiates have their own language I understand, a lingo which not many outsiders can understand. It is the way of flowers. That is what ikebana means, this Japanese way of flower arranging.
And Ikenobo is the oldest 'school' amongst many, with it's roots in Kyoto, where they even have their own temple. The Rokkaku-dō (六角堂) for which the official name is Shiun-ji or Purple Cloud Temple (紫雲寺). Over 2000 different schools exist today, that have been established since the first one was founded by a priest. The teaching learns for one that the flower stems represent hills, waterfalls, valleys, and other objects of nature, which should be arranged in a specific way. It is an art form still taught in schools, and very often you may find such arrangements in glass show cases at train stations and other public buildings.
And from next week I hope to be included in this mysterious world of rules and regulations. I'm taking Ikenobo lessons. From a Japanese Ikenobo master. Who does not speak English… and I just speak a few words of Japanese. In the sense that I can order a cup of tea. Although, this not an easy task in this tea-soaked-country, I've found. But that is a whole other topic for a whole other blog post.
Maybe it is just as well that we cannot communicate with words. We will communicate through the way of the flower.
But, back to the celebration of the Ikenobo Society at Takashimaya. Quite crowded. Specially with well 'coiffed' elderly ladies, make-up applied with vigour and sometimes dressed in traditional kimono. Armed with their mobile phones, and sometimes an actual camera they snap away and talk quietly together about the beautiful arrangements (which sometimes gets praised loudly with a very Japanese 'oooooh!') and probably also the missteps that have been made. Although we might never know.
Powdered and serious ladies aside, the exhibition was astounding. I've been to four Ikenobo events before. This one was not the absolute best, but absolutely gorgeous it was. And I want to be able to perform this very hard-earned, very severely schooled and quite ancient art myself. Let's hope I can find the way of flowers myself.