Tim had the brilliant idea of trying out ikebana - the Japanese art of flower arranging. He booked a lesson and we took the 15 minute walk over to Daikanyama to enter the Ohara School of Ikebana.  

A bit of background - ikebana originated 600 years ago during the Buddhist ritual of flower offerings to the dead. It has become an art form that extends beyond religious circles and has changed in style as the years have progressed. Branches, leaves, mosses, grass, flowers, seed pods, etc. can be used. This art requires "considerable technical skill in order to create the kind of beauty that cannot be seen in nature". It encompasses asymmetry, empty space, harmony with the container, and takes into account setting. Complicated!

Here are some examples.

We were greeted by the sensei and her assistant and seated at the front of the room. As time went on the regulars came in, set up their stations, and were told what style of ikebana to create for the day. 

First we got acquainted with our work stations and removed the newspaper from our flowers.

Then we found out that we were going to focus on the first two Basic types of ikebana in the low bowl arrangement - the Rising and Inclining Form. We were given a brief lesson on the whiteboard and then we went for it.

I continually referred to my Basic Hana-Isho sheet but still managed to be confused about exactly what I was going for.

After showing the sensei our finished products there was a lot of "oh, too much empty space", "this one is too long", and "I don't think this is 1/3 the height". Then she moved our stems around, did a bunch of trimming, and essentially redid what we'd configured to make it fit the requirements. 

Tim wisely took a before and after to illustrate how terrible I was at this. 

Here are Tim's masterpieces.

Keep in mind these took us an hour to make. They are deceivingly tricky! I guess that's part of the beauty of it. 

Overall,  I think it would take us another 100 hours or so to really master these two Basic arrangements, but it was definitely a unique and worthwhile experience.