“Happy Birthday Blue & White” (see Archives, February) has put me in a nostalgic frame of mind for Spring in Japan. It begins with the cascades of cherry blossoms that rain down on the groups of picnickers sitting on blue plastic mats, shoes carefully planted on the edge.
One visit while staying with Mrs. Olana, we were invited to a celebration of Spring in a charming old town north of Tokyo. These images are scans from the old photos– this was the pre-digital age! We found the town graced with exquisite flower arrangements and beautifully hand-painted paper lanterns.
Even the downspouts aren’t neglected. Though one wonders what will happen if it rains a lot. These designs show the mastery of asymmetrical placement that is part of the ikebana tradition. It almost looks like dogwood but I don’t remember much dogwood in Japan. A magnolia?
This hanging basket has a rigid handle and was probably used as some kind of scoop. In the truly creative-adaptation style of most flower arrangers, a container of either bamboo (light-weight) or ceramic is used to hold the sinuous cherry blossom branches. I don’t recognize the white flowers. They sit very distinctly on the branch, don’t they?
The ledges by the windows were not forgotten. The gravity of this Spirea branch defies explanation. How it seems to dance!! It would seem that it is sitting in a tiny kenzan (pin holder cup) just behind the few leaves. The kenzan would have to be filled up frequently with water.
At the other end of the ledge, this cluster of Narcissus (?) sits in a matching container. Notice the grooves for the sliding shoji screens. Thanks for indulging this nostalgic, if blurry, visit to Japan. For more about the charms of Japan, visit the blog of the wonderful Blue & White Shop. http://blueandwhitetokyo.com/author/blueandwhitetokyo/