JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jeanne Oka, left, Elaine Arita and Bessie Fooks look over Arita's "moribana" waterscape. As members of Ikebana International Honolulu Chapter 56, the three are participating in the five-day "Splendors of Ikebana 2008" show, which opens Monday at Honolulu Hale.
Teachers and students from seven ikebana schools are contributing floral arrangements to next week's "Splendors of Ikebana 2008" show, now in its fourth year.
SPLENDORS OF IKEBANA 2008 EXHIBIT
» Viewing hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through March 28, Honolulu Hale Courtyard
» Demonstrations: Lillian Yano and Viva Inouye of the Toin Misho School, 10 a.m. Tuesday; Bessie Fooks of the Shofu School, 10 a.m. Wednesday
» Admission: Free
» Call: 523-4674
Members of Ikenobo, Kado Sangetsu, MOA Sangetsu, Ohara, Shofu Ryu, Sogetsu and the Toin Misho schools are creating displays for the five-day event, which opens Monday at Honolulu Hale, under the umbrella of Ikebana International Honolulu Chapter 56.
Once practiced by only the highest-ranking members of Japanese society, ikebana is now perpetuated at all levels by people with a love of nature. The art form developed during the spread of Buddhism in the Asuka and Nara periods as an offering to spirits of the dead; the gifts, or "kuges," were often placed on altars. But ikebana has expanded beyond that religious connotation to include those who view it as a tribute to nature, with its emphasis on connecting people to their environment.
Arrangements made of branches, leaves, moss, grass and blooms often draw inspiration from land and waterscapes. Each of the four seasons is noted, with preference given to in-season flowers.
"It goes from being a hobby to an avocation to a passion," said Bessie Fooks, a teacher of the Shofu school.
Arrangements are mostly kept a surprise until show time at Honolulu Hale. The seven groups will present upward of 60 arrangements, including a display by youth groups trying their hand at the art.
Arrangements are "a reflection of one's heart, one's spirit and one's innermost feelings," said Elaine Arita.
For 25 years, Arita -- sansei to her students -- has been teaching the Ohara style, which puts a particular focus on nature. While all schools are similar in the fact they emphasize the use of all plant materials, asymmetrical forms and negative space, they differ in their rules on arrangements.
Ikenobo is the oldest, and the other six followed suit in using the scalene triangle as the base for their structures.
"Every school will do one type of arrangement," said Arita, who was named a Living Treasure of Hawaii in 1993 for her contributions to ikebana.
Arita's own work-in-progress for the show -- a 9-foot-tall sculpture crafted from dried driftwood, tropical flowers and other indigenous plants -- was partially assembled at her house. After being sketched out, the arrangement will be taken apart and reassembled at the show tomorrow.
Arita employed ikebana's principles of color, texture and harmony as she tried the first run of her creation, a mountainscape with imagery to represent a cascading waterfall.
Formed in 1961, the Honolulu ikebana chapter is one of more than 170 worldwide, with main offices in Tokyo. Next week's show is the largest of the year for the 109 members of the local chapter; it's an exhibition of both contemporary and traditional floral arrangements, with demonstrations given by the participating schools.