Preschooler Ikebana (Flower Arranging)

Some of Anthony's classmates participated in an Ikebana (the art of flower arrangement) exhibition in Kyoto this past weekend. I normally have little interest in such things, but when I was invited (thanks Arthur!), I felt oddly interested, so Anthony and I headed over for a peek.

The show was in a large hall that was designed for viewing, not photography, and so with the mixed lighting (fluorescent, and various kinds of incandescent) and lack of nice backgrounds, the pictures don't come out well. Still, hopefully, some of the cuteness found in any art by four and five year olds comes through.

Ikebana is an art with over a thousand years of history and refinement, the whole of which is wasted on the likes of me. To me, art is like wine: I either like it or I don't. Art by preschoolers is pretty easy to enjoy because they make it so clearly their own, infused with cuteness.

(In the captions that follow, the “-chan” suffix indicates a girl's name, while “-kun” indicates a boy's name.)

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 32mm — 1/90 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500 — full exif
Four-year-old Ami-chan's
Ballerina motif

It's an inexcusable photographic mistake on my part, but I lopped off much of the tall, white, wispy feathers that extend above the central flowers. You can see them to the left in the shot below. I don't know much about art, but even I can see that they're meant to evoke a sense of a fleetingly floating ballerina, and I totally lopped them off in the photograph. Sorry, Ami-chan!

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 19mm — 1/90 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500 — full exif
(photo by Anthony)
Five-year-old Kouki-kun's
Bug/woodland motif

Anthony exercised some of his own artistic license by taking the picture above at the angle you see it. Just prior, he'd taken a level shot that came out perfectly, then took the angled shot. Clearly, he wanted the angled effect, so I'm honoring that by using that version.

Kouki-kun decorated his with hand-drawn bugs that you can't see well in the shot above, so here's a closer view....

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 28mm — 1/45 sec, f/5, ISO 320 — full exif
Kouki's Hand-Drawn Bugs

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 26mm — 1/100 sec, f/5, ISO 320 — full exif
Four-year-old Hinano-chan's
Jellybeans and fuzzy puffs

Hinano-chan's little sister, two-year-old Marina-chan, also had an arrangement on display, but I can't seem to find a picture of it. (It makes me worry that there are others' whose pictures are missing :-()

Marina-chan was wearing an exquisitely cute kimono — is there really any other kind of kimono for a two year old? — so we'll see a picture of her later in this post.

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 31mm — 1/160 sec, f/5, ISO 320 — full exif
Four-year-old Akiko-chan's

I'd guess that Akiko-chan made the dragonflies herself, since I know that she likes to make things with those beads. (I think you place the beads into position on a special board, then iron them to fuse them together....)


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 26mm — 1/125 sec, f/5, ISO 320 — full exif
Five-year-old Rio-chan's
Princess theme

I think Rio-chan's combination of flowers gives a very nice fairy-tale feel.

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 32mm — 1/125 sec, f/5, ISO 320 — full exif
Five-year-old Riko-chan's

I'm not sure what the theme of Riko-chan's arrangement is, but it's probably my favorite of the bunch. With fall approaching, I'm a sucker for the dried leaves. Yet, the colorful flowers evoke a sense of spring. Spring and fall are Kyoto's glorious seasons, so the combination is hard to beat.

(Showing these pictures to Fumie, she tells me that the flowers are autumn flowers, but whatever the season, they're still pretty.)

I tried to take a close-up of the fleetingly fuzzy, super-white cocoon-shaped things (plants?) in Riko-chan's arrangement, but there's just no contrast and it didn't come out well. (The white-cocoon-shaped thing I was aiming for is in the right half of the picture below.)

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 55mm — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 320 — full exif
Close Up
sort of

When we'd arrived, most of the moms and kids were in a downstairs cafe having a treat, so on the way home I stopped by to say hi. Two-year-old Marina was looking cute as a button in her kimono, sitting next to her mommy in hers. It was dark and the lighting was horrid, but I gave it a shot....

Marina-chan (Two Years Old) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 45mm — 1/80 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — full exif
(Two Years Old)

(That's Monet-chan in the background, who was featured giving her daddy a hard time in the post about camera geeks at the school bazaar the other day.)

I expected to enjoy the kids' flower arrangements because, as I said, it's hard not to enjoy the art of a child. To my great surprise, I very much enjoyed the many arrangements displayed by the serious adults (including the mommoy of Marina-chan and Hinano-chan, who had a very nice autumn-themed arrangement of witch-hazel). I'll post some of those pictures another time. (Update: here.)

(Mini milestone: this is post #600 on my blog)

Continued here...

All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

Wonderful that such youngsters are encouraged in ikebana, and some striking arrangements, too. Btw, the white fluffy cocoon-like things are plants – hare’s-tail grass, Lagurus ovatus, native to the Mediterranean region and beloved of flower-arrangers the world over, evidently. The heads dry perfectly so are ideal for dried flower arrangement.

— comment by Peter on October 9th, 2007 at 11:27pm JST (16 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

The 2-year-old girl in kimono is so gorgeous. Nice pic!

— comment by Anne on September 7th, 2012 at 1:13pm JST (11 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink
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