Ikebana, an exercise in concentration and focus

In Japan, those who have mastered an Art or Craft, whether it be: Wood-carving; Weaving; Ceramics; Calligraphy; Tea Ceremony or Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), are held in great respect. Some are elevated to the title of “Living National Treasure’. I love the idea of these ‘treasures’. There is much less a divide between ‘Art’ and ‘Craft’ here than there is in the West.

Last week I watched a demonstration of Ikebana at a Temple. A few months ago I watched a Fighter Pilot perform a Tea Ceremony. At each temple or shrine I visit, I watch the Calligrapher write in my ‘temple book’ (a bit like having it autographed). I am in awe of these people who have developed these wonderful skills which involve great concentration and patience and take many years to perfect. I am by nature, impatient, haphazard, unorganised – flitting from one thing to another. I find it difficult to focus on anything because I have so many interests and get so easily distracted. I am already finding it difficult in these early days of the Textiles course. I am getting excited about this new world of Textiles, finding inspiration all around me. What I need to do is start focusing on one thing at a time, planning my days so that I can get through this course. Once a month I have a Calligraphy lesson and during those few hours I concentrate so hard, sometimes I find myself forgetting to breathe! Afterwards I feel exhausted but totally relaxed. I need to do more Calligraphy!

Back to Ikebana….the demonstration produced a beautifully simple arrangement…


Mine was hastily executed and not a little haphazard….


At the station, on the way back to Tokyo there was an Ikebana display which reminded me that I need to concentrate and focus more….




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