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JSC Hosts Ohara Ikebana Show; 600 Attend Exhibit

The Jodo Shinshu Center (JSC) was the site of the Ohara School of Ikebana Exhibit, which was presented by the Northern California chapter of the Ohara School and the BCA Art Committee. 

The ikebana exhibit took place Oct. 14-15, attracting more than 600 attendees who viewed the flower arrangements and demonstrations, and enjoyed the JSC in Berkeley, California. 

Madame Suiyo Fujimoto and her students have held this Ohara Ikebana Exhibit since 1965 at various locations in the Bay Area.  The shows at the JSC began in 2012, and this was the fifth exhibit at this location. This year’s show had the added distinction of participation from four generations of Fujimoto Sensei’s students.  

The exhibit is kicked off with a Hana Kuyou Service, a memorial service for flowers.  The participants gathered in the JSC Kodo for this special service, led by Rev. Kiyonobu Kuwahara, Supervising Minister of the Berkeley Buddhist Temple.  

After the chanting of the Juseige, Rev. Kuwahara shared a story of a sunflower grown by his son a few years ago. From seed to flower, the growing process took about 70 days to culminate into a mature and beautiful sunflower.  

Even a single flower, beyond personal care and attention, takes a myriad of causes and conditions working and combining behind the scenes for the flower to emerge.  Rev. Kuwahara delivered this Dharma message with a wish that those who arranged flowers could deepen their appreciation with such a Buddhist view of the interdependence of all of life.

“We had 40 participants with their arrangements, and nine participants leading demonstrations throughout the weekend,” said teacher-student Mrs. Yoshiko Gilli. “Mrs. Fujimoto made a spectacular arrangement with assistance from Mrs.Y. Naiki and Mrs. Y. Grave. For the first time, six students were tasked to prepare their first Taisaku (large arrangement representing the chapter), with guidance from Fujimoto Sensei.”  

The large arrangement, placed at the center of the JSC lobby, is usually prepared by Fujimoto Sensei. This year, the group of students were challenged to step up and expand their creative expression in a large-scale setting.  

“We took our first steps; a long ways to go, but ikebana is a never ending endeavor,” Gilli said.

New BCA Art Committee member Joyce Nojima, of the Enmanji temple, said: “The Ohara ikebana show signaled a beautiful welcoming to the autumn season. The colors and careful consideration in the arrangements did not fail to impress. While I anticipated a very formal setting in this centuries-old tradition, I was pleasantly surprised by the absolute warmth and camaraderie between all the attendees. The demonstrations were an excellent experience to see this intense art practice woven with such tenderness and generosity from this community.”

Nojima’s partner, Christopher Barnett, was new to the world of ikebana.  

“The show at the JSC was a wholly different experience for me; I went in as a fresh observer completely unfamiliar with the art of ikebana and found myself immersed in the complexities of the exhibit and the demonstration that took place while I was present,” Barnett said. “There is a certain order among the beauty of the arrangements, a careful structure that is woven through every piece in its own unique way that I came to appreciate.”

Ohara member and student Mrs. Setsuko Iwami provided details of the arrangements placed.

 "The Ohara School of Ikebana Northern California chapter transformed the Jodo Shinshu Center into a gallery of ikebana art,” Iwami said. “A masterpiece of the Landscape Realistic Moribana arrangement was positioned near the entrance to welcome the many guests and visitors. Shinran Shonin’s statue was accompanied by the highly creative and inspiring arrangement by Grandmaster Suiyo Fujimoto.  A variety of arrangements from the traditional to contemporary arrangements filled the main hall of the center.  A Bunjin-cho ikebana favored by Chinese literati was created to match a hanging frame for the alcoves. It was a world of beauty and tranquility with a perfect harmony between nature and human life.  I am once again deeply impressed by the mysterious power that ikebana art can produce."

Rev. Harry Bridge of the Buddhist Church of Oakland and his wife, Mika, were also attendees to the show. 

“This year's exhibition was spread throughout the first floor of the JSC,” Rev. Bridge said. “Whether in the main lobby where there were many arrangements side by side or in the hallway with single arrangements in the various alcoves, the viewer was called to marvel at and appreciate the harmonious placement of the various elements.”    

The Ohara teachers and students were most appreciative to once again hold their exhibit at the Jodo Shinshu Center. The use and support of the JSC began years ago under the friendship and guidance of the late Mr. Glenn Kameda. Each show is a tribute to Mr. Kameda’s deep appreciation of ikebana and the parallel connections to the Jodo Shinshu teachings. This year, the BCA Art Committee was honored to work in collaboration with the Northern California Chapter of the Ohara School.



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