Ikebana Classes

CONTRIBUTED BY MARY RICHARDSON

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Are you looking for an artistic and cultural outlet in Okinawa and more interaction with local nationals? Ikebana is the perfect way to achieve both goals.

Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement, originating nearly 500 years ago. Today it is recognized as one of Japan’s distinct arts and is actively taught in schools and demonstrated on television.
Unlike the overflowing bountiful flower arrangements you might find in the States, Ikebana stresses a minimalist approach. Oftentimes the artist puts special emphasis on other parts of the flower besides the bloom, such as the curvature of a stem or the combination of leaves. In addition, the stems are placed inside the vase according to specifically prescribed angles. Overall, they are examples of art incorporating natural elemental beauty.
Along with other Americans and Japanese, I have been taking Ikebana lessons at the Kadena USO. Our sensei is Keiko Robbins, who hails from mainland Japan and has been practicing Ikebana for decades. Every week, she brings different fresh flowers and sits with each of us individually to provide a mini-lesson on that day’s arrangement. This is especially helpful for the students like me, who have less experience and intuition about how to create an arrangment.
These are a few of my pieces over the past few weeks…
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I really love how we work with a variety of flowers and textures, including some that I have never even seen before. Moreover, Sensei Robbins incorporates the seasons and holidays into our designs. I’m looking forward to creating something new and original for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.

In addition to the classes at the Kadena USO, there is also the possibility of joining the Ikebana International Society, which meets monthly at different locations around the island. In the spirit of holiday, this month our group hosted a Halloween luncheon and party with excellent food and opportunities to make new friends.

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Ikebana has been one of my favorite outlets living here in Okinawa. I love bringing home an arrangement of fresh flowers once a week that I made, and I’m excited to sit side by side with new Japanese friends and get to know them better. Won’t you join in?
Classes are offered at Kadena USO on Mondays, Thursdays, or Saturdays from 9:30 am to 11:00 am, with students coming and going according to their own schedule. That is, you don’t have to be there exactly at 9:30 or stay until the end since we’re working at own pace. Cost for four classes is $75 per month for flowers and instruction. You will also need to buy a vase, scissors, and frog (center prong to fit inside vase)

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8 Comments
  • March 13, 2013

    Hi! Just wanted to mention that they also have Keiko sensei’s long time students, now teachers themselves teach at the Camp Courtney arts and Craft (Kimiko sensei) and also on Camp Foster, either the USO or the arts and crafts (Masako sensei). Both teachers also speak English very well, and I think have a knack of sharing their culture.

    C
    Reply
  • May 23, 2012

    Can you tell me if Keiko Robbins is still teaching? I am so happy to see photos of her online and would love to send her a note. She was my Sogetsu teacher at Kadena 40 years ago.

    Some people are so unforgettable–it was a privilege to know her.

    Clia Goodwin
    Reply
  • February 11, 2012

    Is classes still available?

    Em
    Reply
  • May 6, 2010

    Claudia,
    I don’t think she’s the same. Our teacher Keiko only teaches at USO on Mon, Thurs, and Sat from 9:30 to 11:00.

    You can also enroll in the teacher certificate course through her.

    Reply
  • May 4, 2010

    Hi,

    I have recently started a class of Ikebana at the Arts and Crafts, is it the same teacher that teaches at USO?
    I know our teacher (whose name i do not know) teaches Sogetsu style, but she does not speak English very well and it is hard for me to udnerstand…
    I wanted to study Ikebana since before comming to Japan and I am interested to know if the teacher at USO is the same one from Arts and Crafts? I am also interested in becomming a teacher since I will be here on the island for 3 more years.

    Claudia
    Reply
  • November 1, 2009

    Amy,
    Keiko, our teacher, will buy those things for you and then you just pay her for them. She gets a discount, so it’s a little cheaper for us. It comes out to about 3000 yen I believe for those three items.

    Reply
  • November 1, 2009

    Hello! Do we buy the vase, scissors, and prongs there or do we need to bring them with us? Thanks for a great idea of something new to learn.

    Amy
    Reply
  • October 31, 2009

    Impressive third arrangement! Good for you that you are taking the time to learn this beautiful art. As I shove my farmers market boquets into cheap vases- I wish I would have learned! Make sure to stock up on those (kenzan’s-?) prong things- expensive stateside!

    Staci
    Reply