In Tokyo, a new style of teaching an ancient art has been boosted with the opening of an eleven-storey building for students from all around the world.
In Tokyo, a new style of teaching an ancient art has been boosted with the opening of an eleven-storey building for students from all around the world. It is the Grass Moon - or Sogetsu - School of Sofu Teshigahara, hailed as Japan's most innovative and successful master of the art of Ikebana flower arrangement.
SYNOPSIS: Overlooking the palace of Crown Prince Akihito - whose family has traditionally patronised the flower art - the Grass Moon school has more than a million fee-paying members in Japan alone. Teshigahara, now aged 77, has taken his skills around the world, mounting shows from Moscow to Manhattan. Frequently described as the "Picasso of the Flowers", he has taken Ikebana beyond the classical arrangements into what the calls a "fresh and vivid world."
Ikebana has been entwined with Buddhism almost since that religion was introduced to Japan in the sixth century. In their earliest days, such arrangements were designed as alter offerings. Today, Teshigahara has brought Ikebana into the age of abstract expressionism. He uses many untraditional containers, from wine kegs to modern ceramic sculptures, and incorporates materials ranging from dyed feathers to shells with the flowers.
Teshigahara's daughter Kasumi is a vice-president of the school - and is almost as celebrated a practitioner of the art as her father.
Kasumi's brother, the noted Japanese film director Hiroshi, is also a vice-president of Grass Moon, and its chief ceramicist. The family commitment to the art of Ikebana has had its rewards - not just a modern school designed by a famous Japanese architect, attended by students from all parts of the world, but also a large personal fortune and international fame as well.