Convention Top Ikebana International Ninth World Convention 50th Anniversary
Essence of Ikebana Opening Ceremony Demonstration Meeting Culture Program Exhibition Banquet
Culture Program

The popularity of the hands-on culture programs at the Eighth World Convention led to six vigorous culture programs, which were held in the Pamir Wing of the hotel. October 27 saw papier-mache mask making, bamboo basketry, and kumihimo braiding. The next day's programs were brush calligraphy, ikebana using a lacquer vessel, and tea ceremony.

Make a Mask with Washi Paper

Papier-mache masks are a feature of many Japanese festivals, and masks play an important role in noh and kyogen dramas as well as in the sacred Shinto kagura dances. Actress and artist Mrs. Mieko Yuki presented attendees with four traditional Japanese mask types - okame/otafuku, the chubby-cheeked comic beauty; hyottoko, her male counterpart with bugged eyes and pursed mouth; the gold-eyed fox, a figure found in local folk religions; and a red ogre. Participants were coached m how to apply and mold papier-mache on a template and how to apply color. Many participants used their creative impulses to make masks of original and often wild design.

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Bamboo Craft

Mr. Masaharu Moriya, a master bamboo basket craftsman, led participants in making small and simple but charming and useful flower containers. Each participant was given an already woven small square "mat," whose four sides had long extended splints, which were used to create the flower container. The weaving was first finished so it would not unravel, then the splints were gathered, and a little dome-shaped carry-basket created to hold a short bamboo stalk vase. Participants' smiles at the end of the workshop were full testament of its success.

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Kumihimo Braiding

This ancient craft is still very much alive today, and Ms. Mitsuko Sano of the Domyo company of Tokyo is an accomplished teacher of these unique braiding techniques. Marvelous historical reproductions were on display. Each participant was given a tall marudai braiding stand, on which twelve colored silk strands on weighted bobbins had been prepared. Kumihimo at first attempt is truly daunting. Trying to remember the order of strands, their direction, their movements, etc. etc. makes one's head ache and makes success seem rather impossible. Then something happens; the body takes over, and strand movements and directions become clear. One still has to pay attention, but all that initial headache is gone, and the result is a jewellike silken cord without blemish.

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Japanese Calligraphy

Ms. Yoshiko Ichinose chose the character for flower - hana as the basis for the workshop. Hana has only seven strokes and looks simple, but simplicity in the world of brush calligraphy is very deceiving. This character is famous for being difficult. Each participant was given a sheet showing a variety of calligraphy styles used to write the character and could choose one or more of these styles to practice and, hopefully, master. As many participants discovered, the simplest seeming cursive style was far more difficult than anticipated. Though the rules of Chinese/Japanese brush calligraphy have been codified through the millennia, and though calligraphy is considered a major art form, it is still not impossible to dump all precedent and form and produce characters that are alive. The purpose of the workshop, of course, was to present a brief taste of a fundamental Oriental art.

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Ikebana Using a Lacquer Container

Iemoto Kogetsu Kamijo of the Shinpa Seizan School (see I.I. Magazine, Vol 50/2) provided careful and highly expert guidance in using lacquer vessels for ikebana. Japanese lacquer ware somehow remains relatively unfamiliar abroad. Most people, Japanese included, know little or nothing about the craft of lacquering, and lacquer ware vessels have not been exported in quantity. The resilient surface and gentle but warm light-catching qualities, the profound black and deep red of the cinnabar lacquer, are unfamiliar to most people outside Japan. Iemoto Kamijo felt that sharing her delight in this substance would open doors for creative ikebana.

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Tea Ceremony

Ceremonial tea and its attendant artistic aesthetic remain pillars of traditional Japanese culture. The tea aesthetic today resounds through many different media both in Japan and abroad, from high fashion to graphic and industrial design to food to all corners of the art-craft world. The tea ceremony itself remains more obscure to non-Japanese, partially because of its heavy formality in Japan, the need to sit on your knees for long periods, the slow pace, and what seems like unfamiliar fuss about a beverage. One facet of the ceremony is that it creates a space outside of time. Tea Master Kenzo Sugata of the Omotesenke Fushin'an brought his profound experience in the world of the tea ceremony to this workshop, not the least of which was the release from tight schedules.

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