Unique Exhibits at Ikebana Flower Show Display at Community Center

(Yoni Mayeri, Photographer)
Sogetsu Ikebana teacher Soho Sakai created this Ikebana arrangement using long stem sparkler pumpkins from Diablo Foods, altered fatsia japonica from her garden and a Sogetsu ceramic container.

    For centuries artisans seeking to combine creative expression with the beauty of nature have practiced Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. This month Orindans can view over 90 unique exhibits of this art form at the Expression Unbound Flower Show.
    The show is organized by the Soho Study group, students of renowned Sogetsu Ikebana teacher, Soho Sakai, who hosts weekly Japanese flower arranging classes in Orinda. The exhibit honors the 25 anniversary of the group and will be held Saturday, Oct 14 and Sunday, October 15 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Orinda Community Center. Admission is free.
    Introduced in Japan in the 6th century by Chinese Buddhist missionaries, Ikebana uses materials from the outside environment to bring the natural world indoors to harmonize contemporary spaces where people live, work and play. Sogetsu, established in 1927, is a less formal form of traditional Ikebana.
    The main qualities in Ikebana are line, mass and color. It allows room for creative expression as any kind of flower, branch, container and other material can be used.
    “Ikebana brings this element of beauty into my life and into my home,” said Yoni Mayeri, a group member who has been studying with Sakai since 1998.
    Arrangements with intertwining bamboo shoots, freshly trimmed branches and vibrant living flowers will fill the Community Center as members of the study group and other skilled artists showcase their masterpieces.
    The event features the works of over 70 Ikebana artists and a traditional Taiko Drumming performance. Founders Auditorium will be blanketed with arrangements while smaller rooms offer visual aids explaining different components of Ikebana. The library auditorium features demonstrations from talented Ikebana artists, including Soho Sakai, the Sogetsu instructor who teaches weekly classes at the Community Center. She is scheduled on stage at 3 p.m. Sunday.
    In 1974, Sakai began teaching Ikebana in her home. After obtaining her adult education teaching credential, she shared her love of Ikebana at colleges and events including Contra Costa College and the Orinda Community Center. She often uses plants from her own garden to create her masterpieces.
    Sakai’s students admire her talent and teaching abilities and the artistic process gleaned through Ikebana as a whole. Passionate about this art form, Sakai and her students formed the Soho Study Group in 1997.
    “Sakai is one of the best Sogetsu Ikebana designers in the world, a treasure in our community and a fabulous teacher who had literally thousands of students both locally and nationally during her 60+ years of teaching,” said Mayeri.
    Ikebana changed Sakai’s life for the better and it has done so for many of her students. In addition to a career teaching Ikebana, Sakai met her husband through her Ikebana teacher and attributes her good health to working with nature and flowers.
    “I’m very healthy … I think plants and nature give lots of energy,” said Sakai. “Make friends with plants and nature and I guarantee you will live a long life.”
    Visit www.sogetsu-sohostudygroup.org or follow their Instagram page @sohostudygroup to learn more about their history and creation.

Nicole Lamison can be reached at nlamison34@gmail.com.

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