Fall 2012

Director’s Message:   Nov. 11, 2012

Hello everyone……the time does fly. I hope you and your students are well. Here are some of the events I’d like to relay.

The Japanese delegation arrived in early April and it was a whirl-wind tour. There was lots of arranging with instructors and local students, culminating with a public show. We were all so enriched by their visit, I only regret that with hasty preparations, more of you were not able to attend. While the delegation was here…..there were discussions about a professor test in the Spring of 2013. More about that later.

Tucson instructors (Henry and Michi Ajiki, Marta Vergara, Maggie Kearns, Karey Karam) and Virginia instructor Helena Arouca put together a beautiful show at the Tucson Museum of Art in mid October. The exhibition was enhanced with the participation of two local ikebana groups: the Ikenobo and Ohara schools. Though it was challenging, I believe our exhibition was one of the best. (But I think I always say that.) The setting was gorgeous, and the weather perfect for outdoor demonstrations and a couple of impromptu classes. I truly hope there will be more opportunity for all three schools to work together again.

I have recently returned from the meeting of the National American Council of Johrei Fellowship (NAC) where I represented Sangetsu at the Fellowship National Headquarters in Los Angeles. I was invited to present a small class, and it’s always a joy to see how the mood swings from serious spiritual study… to joy and playful exchange. Not that there’s anything wrong with serious spiritual study! One of our ministers, Susan Gramolini from Boston, was asked to present an informal class in Boston last year, after word got out that she enjoyed ikebana. We consulted about what she could present and how. Well the words out…….and members of a local botanical group has asked Susan to lead another class.

Though she didn’t expect it, and Susan is the first to tell you she doesn’t have exactly the formal qualifications, she is marching ever forward to the Sangetsu beat with great enthusiasm and finesse. Bless her heart.

As I mentioned before, we hope to have a professor’s test in Atami this spring. Three of us plan to go, (Asst. Professors Joan Fairs, Helena Arouca and myself). And while we are going all that way, we will plan a swing through the other Sacred Grounds. Rev. and Michi Ajiki will lead the group.

Many events have occurred since our last newsletter. As you know, Rev. Ajiki’s granddaughter had a very severe head trauma traffic accident. Jessica has made incredible progress in her rehabilitation. Following the NAC meeting in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, the Ajiki’s had an extended stay with Jessica. When Jessica saw Henry, she immediately threw open her able arm and planted a kiss on grandpa. Jessica has begun to talk and even to eat. With assistance, she has begun to take her first steps. She will transfer to another rehabilitation center for more extensive work. This girl is moving on and very rapidly. Margo, Jessica’s mother, knows all our prayers have helped her precious one heal. She is ever, ever, grateful.

Asst. Prof. Helena Arouca’s husband Jose passed on recently. We were able to hold a 40th day service at the Tucson Center while she was present to help us with the October Museum exhibition.

My father also passed in May, as it turns out, on my mother’s birthday. You may remember that my mother passed on in September of 2011. Daddy asked that all his children (five of us) come to Texas for his birthday bash, and just a week after we returned home, he had a heart attack. We can’t help but believe mom wanted dad as her heavenly birthday present, and put in the big request. She is a determined one….even “up there.”

An exciting note! You will read about the flower arranging classes Natalie Montecalvo has been teaching…..in Jamaica! You’ll see she has pictures to prove it. See where Sangetsu can take you?

I’m sure there are many events in your life that have taken place since our last newsletter. Flowers help us bridge those broad gaps in our lives…..and I am forever grateful that I am able to express my love ….my sadness…..and my joy…with flowers as my constant ambassadors. Nature is truly God’s great art. Thank you for all that you do with flowers….for all that you do with these living miracles.

Terry Quinn


Sangetsu North America Workshop with Japanese Visitors

April 6th to 9th 2012, Tucson Arizona

Joan Fairs

 A delegation from Japan decided to come to Tucson in the Spring to present two Sangetsu students who successfully became instructors the previous year, their teaching certificates.  The Reverend Mikio Sakamoto who is the Ikebana and Sangetsu Planning Chief from Atami, Professors Mieko Takagi and Keiko Shigemura and translator Reverend Shintaro Yamamoto announced that they would arrive around the Easter weekend.

 Reverend Henry Ajiki and Terry Quinn, with many helpers, hastily put together a workshop for the occasion.  They successfully organized meals, discussion groups, entertainment and an exhibition!  Bravo!  Local Johrei member Christine McDonough hosted a wonderful dinner at her home on the last evening.

 Mayumi Ichino of Vancouver British Columbia and Mamiko  Matsushita of Bellevue Washington are our newest instructors.  Joan Fairs, Mayumi’s instructor attended, and Helena Arouca of Virginia also came out for the special gathering.  As it turned out, our special guests took advantage of Helena and Joan’s presence to pre-interview them, along with Terry Quinn, about becoming top ranked Professors.

Reverend Sakamoto said “You must study in Japan, in Atami, to attain the highest level of instructorship, where the Sangetsu spirit is the strongest.”  Joan asked how long this study would be, and he answered:  “Four days.”   Since that seemed very doable, now Helena , Terry  and Joan are planning on going to Japan in the Spring of 2013.  The Ajikis are also planning to go with them and lead a pilgrimage lasting about two weeks.

Sangetsu activities in Vancouver

Joan Fairs

 On the Easter weekend, while Assistant Professor Joan Fairs and Instructor Mayumi Ichino were in Tucson,  Joan’s students were busy participating in “Japan Fair” at the VanDusen Garden, in Vancouver.   Maurits Rehm, and Kimberly Fairs created a Spring like arrangement together, with cherry blossom branches, irises and peonies.  Jack Duncan and Angie Lee, both retired teachers, led a workshop creating a simple ikebana with contorted hazel and mini carnations and statice.  They had twenty eager first time ikebana arrangers!  Joan was so glad that her students felt confident enough to display and teach, without her having to be there.

Once again our Vancouver Ikebana Association Spring Show was at the Oakridge Auditorium at the end of April.  Four schools:   Ikenobo, Sogetsu, Kado-Sumi and Sangetsu each did a demonstration.  Joan, with the assistance of Mayumi, did the Sangetsu demonstration.  She chose to do four arrangements, each representing a season.  The fifth arrangement was a tropical one, which would be suitable any time of year.

Soon afterward, on the first Sunday of May, Joan and an instructor from Ikenobo had a display at the Burnaby Rhododendron Festival.  Joan collected a list of those who were interested in having classes in Burnaby.  As it turned out, one lady ended up starting taking the Beginners’ set of classes in the Fall.

In July, Sangetsu and Kado-Sumi had a small display at the Port Moody Arts Centre, for a special “Arts in the Garden” fund raising event. Joan was assisted by Sangetsu student Gladie Lindgren, and Kaz Takahashi, the current VIA president, made arrangements in the Kado-Sumi style.

August saw us busy with a display and demonstration at the Powell Street Festival, celebrating all things Japanese-Canadian. Thirteen ikebana were displayed in all, including one by Joan, and the other by Jennifer Gardy who demonstrated the year before, with Joan.  This year Mayumi demonstrated two styles, as did Joan. One lady who saw the demonstration, was so impressed, she also signed up for the Beginners’ classes.

Mid September was the Early Mum Show at VanDusen Garden, and Joan, Kimberly and Jack Duncan displayed for Sangetsu, using the blooms lovingly grown by the Mum Association members.  The second show, at Mandevile GardenWorks on the first weekend of November, had Joan, Jack and Angie Lee display.

Classes have been continuing this Fall, every other week for the continuing students, and once a week for two eager beginner students.  Our first lesson in September was once again hosted by Jack Duncan who is an avid Dahlia grower, and who has generously let our class raid his garden, and have our lesson in his home.

Here is a short report by Mayumi:

I teach a class once a month now and usually there are 2 to 3 students. I have a class on the last Thursday of the month, before the monthly appreciation service which is on the first Sunday of the month. Sometimes I offer a class after the appreciation service for members who attend the service. I am doing mainly basic Moribana, upright, slanting or horizontal styles. This month I did lines with contoured willow.

Two non member students, who did ikebana for a year or two in Japan, are taking my classes. One of them studied Sogetsu.  I find that they catch on quite quickly, probably because they already have some basic knowledge and techniques. I hope they continue with Sangetsu.

Last month we made mini flower arrangements and students delivered them to a hospice and a nursing home. Small classes work better for me although I hope more people take classes in the future. My project for next year is to reach out more people who are interested in Sangetsu and offer them classes.

Helena’s News

 Our class in November, in Washington, DC was fantastic. I was taking care of my lovely husband for several months until his passing on September first.

During that time I was not able to teach classes in DC. Now, still recovering, I felt the urge to see all the students and permit myself to have some fun! Eight students participated.



 Last year I began to write about my travels to Jamaica and the intention to do flower work through teaching and floral design.  Preliminary work began with a training site on the northern coast and January dates were planned.  Unfortunately, the proposal went on hold and by early spring it was clear that it wasn’t going to happen.  My thought at the time was for whatever reason the idea or I wasn’t truly ready.

Nevertheless, I went to Jamaica last winter and met a woman whom I was able to do some flower work for an event of hers.  I shared my story with her and she said to contact another training site run by the HEART Trust.  The HEART Trust has about 26 training centers throughout Jamaica.  I waited several months after I returned to Colorado and made the contact.  I received a swift reply of interest and by late summer training dates were planned for the end of September.  There were actually three workshops that were planned but my travel dates could not accommodate that.

It was a wonderful and successful experience for the participants and I learned so much.  There were 15 enrolled in the class who were either horticulture or hospitality instructors.  During the five full day workshop we covered basic Sangetsu guidelines and principles by concentrating on Moribana but a lesson in Nagiere was also included.  They became familiar with upright, slanting and horizontal styles as well as three-sided, parallel lines and certainly freestyle.  All arrangements were individually critiqued with the class. Because this workshop was presented in an educational setting I had to create a checklist assessment that was needed for their professional development requirements and for their final arrangement.  An exhibit culminated the training and photos were taken, and a few are included here.

Each morning I would rise early and cut various tree branches, flowers and foliage for the class.  The participants brought in materials as well.   “Developing an Eye for Beauty in Nature”, I was one of my daily topics and I would say they responded very well in that regards as all Sangetsu and Ikebana develop.  I witnessed remarkable changes in their arrangements even though it was in a very condensed and intense period to cover 12 lessons.  On the fifth day I borrowed the silent team effort of creating an arrangement like we did at one of our training sessions a couple of years ago.  They really enjoyed this as well as me orchestrating how to do it.  Also during mid-week we visited two master gardeners who I had met last year and we were all so impressed with the beauty these two women have created in their home gardens.  It made me think that whatever work I had done last year was not in vain but would be useful for what eventually occurred.

I have friends who have recently retired and I encourage them to live out their dreams especially if left on hold while raising a family, pursuing a career or not having the resources to do.  If it remains in your heart and mind, it can materialize with blessings.  This has happened for me with Sangetsu,  as well as my professional experiences in education to make my work at Ebony Park, Clarendon in Jamaica be realized. I believe I’m living my dream with travel, work with tropical flowers and the opportunity to teach Sangetsu.  Spreading the Light and Love of Meishu-sama is a tremendous gift indeed!

Natalie Montecalvo


We had one of the most beautiful classes ever! It was priceless and I was able to forget all my worries for a while!!!