Spring 2011

President’s Report

By Joan Fairs

A whole year has already passed since I started as president of the VIA.  How time flies!  Thanks for everyone’s support and cooperation in making 2010 another successful year in making Ikebana accessible to the public.

Looking forward to this year, we have our usual list of events to take part in. Please see our “Events” list for more details.  This being Vancouver’s 125th birthday, we will be inviting Mayor Gregor Robertson to open the Spring Show along with Consul General Hideki Ito.  Perhaps we should have a “Green Theme”?

In November, I was contacted by a reporter from Coco Magazine, a Japanese language magazine in Vancouver.  She asked to come to one of my classes to observe and to write about it.  She took quite a few pictures, and wrote a very nice article about Sangetsu and the VIA in general.  A translation (thanks to Mayumi Ichino) can be found later in this newsletter.

We always need more people to step into vacancies on our executive.  If you have any interest in taking over the positions of Librarian, Treasurer, or next year, Second Vice President, please let me know!  It can be challenging, but fulfilling, taking on an active role in our Association.  We would also appreciate a volunteer or two to take over overseeing the Spring Show from 2012. Please keep in mind that without your help, we cannot continue being a successful association.

This is the VIA’s 46th anniversary.  Let us show the public that a few branches and flowers can help transform their outlook on life, in a peaceful yet passionate manner.


Joan Fairs


The Emperor’s Birthday Celebration

By Kaz Takahasi

The Japanese Emperor’s Birthday celebration was held on December 6, 2010 in the ballroom of the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel in downtown Vancouver. Kado-Sumi group (Mrs. Kyoto Sumi, Yasuko Fujiwara and Kaz Takahashi) put in a large arrangement between the two stages where the speakers stood and the musicians played.

The arrangement was placed over beige mats in 4 oblong black containers. A number of pine branches were erected to give the impression of a mountain such as Fujiyama.  On one side was a branch of a native plant with reddish brown leaves and small black berries. Along the bottom were scattered greenish yellow mums, pink lilies and red ilex verticulata. The finishing touch had two large beige bamboos gracing the lower end.

Although the arrangement was placed in a prominent position, due to the crowded condition, it was not noticed by many who used the clear spaces around it to put their glasses and plates. Following the main event a request was made to move the arrangement to the consulate waiting room across the street.  This was done with a smaller version of the original one.

 Autumn Moon Festival

By Beverley-Ann Ranney

Well, we finally got all the things for the Autumn Moon Festival at Sun Yat-Sen display and demos in the car from our condo. Thank goodness we live on the first floor, and not the twenty-second floor! It was Sunday, so the traffic from White Rock was not stop and go. We entered Vancouver’s Chinatown, and parked outside the doors to the buildings. I talked to one of the people inside and he graciously volunteered to bring the carload inside to the room where we were displaying. I set-up my display consisting of Shimputai Rikka, and Michael’s freestyle Ikenobo arrangement freestyle. There were a couple of hours before my demo so I wandered around looking at all the lovely displays of the different schools. Other demonstrators were Hollis Ho of Sogetsu, Joan Fairs of Sangetsu and Inga Uhlemann of Ikenobo.

One of the volunteers came and asked me if I would push my demo forward, as a group of visitors about to arrive and he thought it would be nice to see a demo. I arranged an Issuhuiki/sanshuike/Shoka,  Shofutai/shimputai/Rikka, and Freestyle. The Rikka arrangements were pre-done as they take too long to wire. The audience were most interested and although there was a language barrier, they stayed on in the room after the demo to ask questions through an interpreter. The crowd dispersed eventually, and I put my feet up for a little while.

It was a full day, and Michael and I got home shortly after six to unload once more. Don’t despair when you live in a condo and would like to learn ikebana, I collect all my own material including branches and flowers. I take lessons although I’ve been teaching for quite a while, but we all need reviews on different styles that are always changing.

VIA Christmas Dinner

By Jennifer Gardy

On November 30, a group of VIA members gathered at Sushi Oyama for the annual Christmas Dinner. Joan Fairs organized a wonderful evening for all, and nary a soul  went home hungry thanks to the excellent menu that was served.

We gathered in a private room on the restaurant’s second floor, where we began with green salad and ebi sunomono. This was followed by edamame, chicken karaage and tempura udon, and then by two types of sushi – a California roll and Oyama’s special house roll, brightly coloured with an array of different types of roe and black sesame seeds.  The dinner conversation was lively, and Cecily Chang impressed everyone with her origami skills, taking the chopstick wrappers and turning them into beautiful swans. Other members’ attempts at recreating her artistry, including the attempt made by your newsletter editor, were not nearly as successful.

A choice of ice cream finished the evening, and everyone took home a few nibblies. A delightful evening was had by all, and again a donation was made to the Downtown Eastside Womens’ Centre.


Chrysanthemum Growing and Showing

By Marie Ogryzlo

VIA members have been involved in chrysanthemum shows for several years, demonstrating how mums can be enjoyed in ikebana. In recent years the Sangetsu, Sogetsu and Ikenobo schools have displayed at the shows. Martha Banno, Beverly Ann Ranney, Michael Lucas, Mayumi Ichino, Isabel Lu, Demi Wu, Joan Fairs, Jack Duncan, Angie Lee, Nancy Garret, Marie Ogryzlo, and Judie Glick exhibited in 2010. The beautiful ikebana were wonderful to see and much appreciated by visitors and growers.

Members of the Point Grey Chrysanthemum Association have been growing mums in Vancouver since 1937.  As it is now impossible to import chrysanthemums from abroad due to white rust, the PGCA is one of only two sources of chrysanthemums in B.C.  To protect this precious resource we work hard to maintain a stock of healthy cultivars and at our spring sale at VanDusen Garden, make them available at a nominal charge to anyone wishing to grow mums.  Visitors are welcome to our monthly meetings at VanDusen to learn how to grow these beautiful blooms.

Chrysanthemums bloom from August to November, and provide colour when most plants in the garden have stopped blooming. They can be grown in the ground and in containers.  The blooms we see at the shows have all been grown in containers.  This means mums can easily be grown on a patio or deck. The September and November shows provide an opportunity to see different cultivars grown to their maximum potential.

PGCA members extend their grateful appreciation for VIA members’ contribution to the shows.


Sangetsu Ikebana

By Yukari Komatsu, Translated by Mayumi Ichino

Originally Published in Coco Magazine, December 2010

Ikebana originates from Japanese art.  Not only do the practitioners arrange flowers, but also it is an art that brings about life to flowers. The beauty of flowers has been enchanting Joan Fairs.  Joan teaches the Sangetsu School of flower arrangement and she is the president of the Vancouver Ikebana Association. Joan first was introduced to ikebana about thirty years ago when her stepmother recommended attending flower-arranging classes at a community centre. Joan, who loves flowers and gardening, enjoys Sangetsu school flower arrangement, which pursues natural beauty in simplicity.

We visited Joan’s home where classes were held.  We were greeted with Joan’s smile and her flower arrangements.  There was an ikebana in each room.  We felt the power of healing instantly. Joan has over 10 students.  Most have been studying for several years. There are a variety of ages and nationalities. Many are females but there is a male student as well.  One of her students is Joan’s daughter and she has been studying for two years.

Periodically, Joan holds an eight week basic course for beginners. She starts classes with the reading of a poem.  The poems are written by Mokichi Okada (the founder) or his daughter (the current headmaster of Sangetsu).  These poems express love for flowers and nature. Joan facilitates not only techniques but also appreciation for flowers and nature.  Then, Joan demonstrates an arrangement explaining the length, angle and curve of branches and flowers.  As Joan finishes an arrangement, cut flowers change their expressions and become very much alive. Students follow Joan’s example to make their own arrangements in their own vases. Joan gives advice to each student. The room is filled with a friendly atmosphere.  Each arrangement is unique because of the different vases used, and different characteristics of each student; nevertheless all of them use the same materials.  Ikebana is the harmony of Nature and techniques.  Students create peace and passion at the same time.

Vancouver Ikebana Association is made up from five schools. These are Ikenobo, Sogetsu, Ohara, Kado-sumi and Sangetsu. About fifteen instructors are registered with them.  Every April, a spring show is held at the Oakridge Auditorium (Cambie St and 49th Ave). The auditorium is filled with gorgeous flowers and flower arrangement demonstrations are held to attract and inform the audience.  In addition to this spring show, a few other shows are held through out a year.  Vancouver Ikebana Association provides information regarding different ikebana schools and instructors. If you are interested, please contact them at www.vancouver-ikebana.ca.


Children’s Ikebana at the Nikkei Centre

By Kaz Takahasi

The Nikkei Centre has an ongoing Japanese cultural program for students. On February 3, 2011, twenty-four  grade 6 students from Queen Mary School on the North Shore came to do a simple ikebana arrangement.

The materials used were oasis, tin cans, boxwood and mini carnations. Students were divided into two groups. Each group had 30 minutes to learn the fundamentals and to do the arrangement individually. A 30-minute pause between the two groups was a welcome time to set up the supplies and be ready for the second group.

All participants seemed pleased with the end results.


Membership & Treasurer’s Report

By Chris King

VIA Membership as of the end of January, 2011 totals 86, including 4 honorary members. Forty-six 2010 members must still pay their 2011 dues to be able to participate in VIA shows. To renew your membership, please send a cheque for $20.00 before March 31st.  After the 31st  the fee increases to $30.00.  Please make your cheque payable to the VIA care of Chris King, 290 April Road, Port Moody, V3H 3W1 before March 31st to be eligible to display at the Spring Show.   VIA welcomes our four new members and looks forward to their participation in the year’s events!


Spring Show Proceeds

The executive members recently decided to send all proceeds from the Spring Show to the Red Cross to aid their efforts in helping Japan during their time of crisis due to the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant destruction. Therefore all the entrance ticket fees will be collected and sent to the Red Cross as soon as the show is over.