Ikebana With A Youthful Flair

Betty Tanaka can often be found scouting tree trimming sites and garbage left
alongside the road. Her trips reveal a bountiful lot of branches, fronds,
driftwood and an array of materials beautifully transformed into ikebana
arrangements.

“We are so fortunate in Hawaii. There is lots of greenery and flowers,” she
said. “You don’t need special materials and that’s what makes it fun. Enough
material can be found in the yard to make arrangements. It doesn’t need to cost
a lot of money.”

Tanaka spends the first Saturday each month sharing her knowledge of ikebana
with a youth group she established six years ago to perpetuate the culture. “The
culture is dying,” Tanaka said. “I hope a few of them will take an interest and
become teachers some day.”

The kids start by going out to find leaves in the yard to use in their
arrangements, she said, opening their minds to possibilities beyond florist-cut
flowers. Once in a while, they might knock on a neighbor’s door to request
specific plant material.

THE STUDENTS’ work will be featured alongside the masters’ at the “Splendors of
Ikebana” exhibit at Honolulu Hale opening next Monday. More than 40 arrangements
in all different shapes and sizes will feature a variety of exotic materials.
The demonstration intends to showcase the evolution of the centuries-old
Japanese art form by including both traditional and contemporary arrangements.

Photo Caption: Siblings Carly, right, and Candice Shimizu, left, prep an Ikebana
arrangement with their cousin Zoe Shimizu at the home of ikebana instructor
Betty Tanaka.

Photo Credit: JAMM AQUINO / [email protected]

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