Flavia Nishimura, a professional ikebana teacher, has been inspiring foreigners in Japan to hone their creativity while learning about a traditional floral Japanese craft.
I found Flavia’s cozy home tucked away on a quiet back street of bustling Shimokitazawa. It was a freezing cold and wet day, yet I instantly felt warmed and welcomed as she greeted me with her beaming smile, a hot cup of chamomile tea, and a fun conversation about her journey. We giggled as she explained to me how ikebana teachers receive a flower name upon certification, with one of the kanji taken from one’s flower teacher. Her flower name is "Senran" (Fountain of Orchids).
Smooth jazz played softly as I watched Flavia demonstrate our ikebana lesson. We were going to use fragrant eucalyptus branches, light green balloon plant milkweed, and light purple Eustoma. I watched her with intrigue as she accurately measured her flowers, placed them delicately at specific degrees, bent branches to achieve the angles she desired, and trimmed leaves for a sharper effect. Every now and then she’d take a step back to observe her composition, then make additional bends and snips until her artistic arrangement was complete.
What inspired you to learn ikebana and to become a teacher?
I have always had an interest in flowers from a young age. I grew up in the countryside of Brazil, and I remember at around age 10 or 11 that my friends would tease me for buying flowers because they thought that flowers were expensive and only lasted a short time. But for me, I always found joy and inspiration in flowers and arrangements. My grandfather is Japanese and when I visited Japan once in 2005, I became intrigued by ikebana. But I couldn’t speak the language well enough at the time to learn about it. So when I moved in 2014, I decided I was going to do it and I dedicated myself to learning and became a teaching master with a degree. In 2017, I started teaching my own classes, Ikebana Experience, through Airbnb Experiences to share the beauty of ikebana with guests from around the world, and my classes have been growing ever since.
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