Interview Akane Teshigahara by Ekaterina Seehaus Floralien Ghent Gent 2016

Interview with Akane Teshigahara

The leader of the Sogetsu school of ikebana have kindly answers questions of teachers and students collected with the help of Facebook

Anticipation was building up over the last couple of months. When earlier this year Ms. Teshigahara was visiting Belgium we wanted to interview her. We collected the questions of ikebana teachers and students from all over the world. It was a nice example of the “good globalization” and how the on-line community of social networks can be leveraged.

During the visit we were not able to fit the interview into the headmaster’s agenda. (Disclaimer: I use the word headmaster instead of headmistresses just because I … like it better. Nothing to do with gender discrimination. In any case the word in Japanese is “iemoto” for both genders.)

Instead of the live interview we were kindly offered by the Sogetsu school headquarters to get written responses to the questions in due course. Today I received the long anticipated communication and I am sharing it with you.

We submitted 7 questions to Ms. Teshigahara, which are ranked by the votes on Facebook. As Akane Teshigahara teaches junior ikebana classes already since 1989 and is regarded as one of the most prominent child educators in the field of ikebana, the question, which got the most votes in the poll is about this topic:

Question 1: What are your top 3 tips for teaching children ikebana?

  1. Do not assume children as a whole from their age and gender, but work with each of them individually. It is important to use your ingenuity so as to talk and teach them differently depending on their type.
  2. Take time. Don’t rush them. Watch patiently what the kid wants to do.
  3. Whatever the work is, recognize it while searching a good point and say something nice first. Do not deny first. Try to make them feel that ikebana is fun.

Question 2: What source of ikebana inspiration do you use when nothing else works?

Enjoy various things other than ikebana, such as paintings, sculptures, movies, theaters… Put yourself in a completely different environment and reset your feeling once.

Question 3: What is the most effective Sogetsu school strategy in popularizing ikebana in the world?

Needless to say, continuing steady activities are important, but it is more important to actively spread information to the outside, not being inward-looking. In order to do so, we will search collaborations with other categories (e.g. art forms other than ikebana, stage performance) and attractive places and put more emphasis on creating works incorporating the “power of the place”. The new Textbook 5 contains the curriculum needed to learn these things. Please look forward to learning it.

Question 4: What is the suggested program for teaching teachers after the book 5 is completed?

Completing Textbook 5 means that the student stands at the start line as an artist who can express personal feelings and ideas. Hereafter, each student will pursue the path that she or he chooses. The instructor should respect such desire, provide various opportunities to learn, and give proper advice to guide the student.

Question 5: How to behave properly towards ikebana?

Ikebana works have energy and power and resonate with people who see them because living flowers are used. Ikebana is to arrange flowers and plants while putting your own feelings and thoughts to them. But you should not forcefully arrange them for your own satisfaction or treat them to diminish their unique attractiveness. Please faithfully face the plants. Do not forget a feeling of thankfulness and respect them so as to see an end when they will return to nature.

Question 6: How would you define good and bad ikebana teachers?

The good instructor can face each one of the students individually, and respect and develop their personality. Even for the students who surpass the instructor, the good instructor has a broad mind so as not to discourage the learning of the students but strongly support them. On the other hand, the bad teacher does not respect individuality but imposes his or her own way onto the students and forces the students to do what the instructor wants to do.

Question 7: What are the most important principles of integrating ikebana into modern interior?

Look at the people who live in the present times. When arranging flowers, if you think of people who will be in that space and try to understand them, I believe ikebana will naturally harmonize with modern spaces.

This concludes the interview with Akane Teshigahara, the 4th iemoto of the Sogetsu school of ikebana. Big thanks to Ms. Teshigahara for finding time in her busy agenda to answer our questions. And of course thanks to all the ikebanists, who contributed to the Facebook poll and voted for the questions.

P.S. I continue my search for the best advise on how to teach ikebana to children. I got some pretty good materials and will share them soon. Stay tuned. Sincerely, Ekaterina


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Akane Teshigahara and Ekaterina Seehaus after the ikebana performance at Ghent Floralien, April 2016
Akane Teshigahara and Ekaterina Seehaus after the iemoto’s ikebana performance at Ghent Floralien, April 2016