In December, we went to a Ikebana class together which is a special and specific type of Japanese flower arranging. Japanese also have more westernized flower arrangements in which flower are arranged in a way that is aesthetically pleasing. Ikebana is a bit more complicated. The number of flowers used has meaning, the way in which the flowers are used has meaning, the types of flowers and colors all have meaning. In high school, I worked in a flower shop so I found this all extremely interesting.
I rode my bike to the class. The room reserved was all tatami floors (flooring made from rice plant stalks, it is very smooth and springy and very pretty) so we took our shoes off at the door. The floor where we would be doing the arrangements was covered in blue tarps to protect the flooring. The tables were all low to the floor and we knelt for the class. There were about 10 people in the class.
First, the teacher handed out pamphlets that had pictures of some flower arrangements that were done by a master of the art. She talked through why they were special and the significance of the pieces. With my limited Japanese and Ito-san's limited ability to explain the subtle nuances to me, much of this was over my head. I did get a better understanding for what Ikebana is about.
|Other people at class|
|Arrangements all followed the same basic shape and structure but were very different when you look at them closely. here are a few examples.|
After snacks as we were leaving the building they all stared at me in shock and horror when they realized that I was going to ride my bike home in the cold while pregnant. There was a small hill between me and home and they all thought that this was such a strange thing that I could do this. I have seen so many Japanese women walk bikes up hills that I guess they never considered that I could actually pedal up it. They all stood and watched as I put my flowers in my bike basket and waved as I rode away.
The last lesson I had in December, Ito-san wanted to cook something Japanese with me. She brought all of the supplies to make toki-yaki. There is a small cast iron griddle with semi circular indentations about a inch and a half in diameter. First you make a batter that is similar to an unsweetened pancake batter and fill up the tray with batter, then in each little cup you drop in a small piece of toki (octopus) and then cover the whole thing with chopped green onions, cabbage and some dried sea weed and dried fish flakes.
|Just starting to from little balls|
|Tah-dah! Little round toki-yaki balls all ready to be eaten.|