Ikebana is now recognized as world-renowned Japanese culture. There are quite a few schools and approaches and they all have their own way to combine flowers, balance flowers, and arrange flowers. Some people might think that all of this is a bit overwhelming for a beginner. But have no fear: Tokei-ji Temple’s two-hour flower arrangement course, called the “Sashibana Class” is easy and enjoyable to participate in, without any formalities. You just go there, follow the instructor’s advice, and…voila! If you are interested in Japanese flower arrangement, I’m sure you will love it, especially in the beautiful temple setting.
When I joined the class, the theme of the arrangement was New Year’s Day. On that day, the participants were all women and all were relatively inexperienced. So we felt very close to each other! At first, the instructor explained and taught the five of us about the characteristics of the flowers we were using, the concept of creating balance, and how to use the arrangement tools. Then we started to practice. The display base we used was from a tiered lacquered box. We first put a water soaked foam brick in the box and then added cut flowers one by one. It was fun to create a tiny flower world by myself.
When someone had trouble with balance, the instructor helped and advised her in a friendly manner. We really concentrated on our flowers for one and half hours. And finally we were finished. The instructor suggested that we put our completed works on a Japanese alcove in the room near a window. Can you imagine what happened? The arrangements looked REALLY NICE!!! One girl said, “Putting my flowers on the alcove is similar to making-up my face! So pretty, and attractive!” After the class, when I displayed the arrangement on our living room table, I felt happy, and my husband said, “Wow!”
The course takes place at the temple on the second Saturday of every even-numbered month (February, April, June, August…) If you would like to sign up for the class, then contact them by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Include the Date you would like to attend, Name/Mr./Ms., No. of participants, Nationality, TEL, and Email Address. There is a charge of 3,000 yen for the class to cover the cost of the flowers and instructor.
By the way, they hold a few other classes on a regular basis as well, such as:
-The Art of Incense
-Hand-copying of Sutras
History of Tokei-ji Temple
This temple used to be known as a sanctuary for runaway wives for about 600 years, since it was established in 1285. In the Kamakura era, women could not divorce unless they received a letter of divorce from their husband, no matter how many horrible, ridiculous things happened to them. To help and protect women from this, Kakusan-ni, the wife of the 8th regent of the Kamakura shogunate, opened this temple. She established a law that stated that after three years apprenticeship at the temple, a wife would be permitted to separate from her husband. And this law was accepted by the Kamakura shogunate. In the temple archives, there are many divorce letters, and diaries from the large number of escapees including their names, ages, and other records.
Garden and Buildings
The seasonal flowers that bloom each year in Tokei-ji Temple are very popular among photographers, both professional and amateur alike. They have a special home page that features a collection of some of the stunning photos taken in their garden (https://tokeiji.com/). The buildings in Tokei-ji temple are simple but charming. The main hall, library, tearoom, and large bell show off its natural beauties. So come before your flower class, or stay afterwards and enjoy walking around the temple grounds. I went to the temple before my class, and took a walk in the fresh morning air. The sunshine illuminated green, red and yellow leaves brilliantly, pure mountain air filled me, and an invigorating aroma from daffodils surrounded me.
Tokei-ji Temple is not a big temple, but its dignified and simple appearance will surely fill your heart. Please visit and feel its natural beauty!