grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I finished another book for my writing project over break! This one is "Ikebana: The Art of Arranging Flowers" by Shozo Sato. (Like tea ceremony, flower arrangement appears to be seen in Japan as something either sex can do. Shozo Sato is a man.) I'm here to write a review.

One of the things I found interesting about this book is that, unlike the tea ceremony book I wrote about previously, this isn't a guidebook full of philosophy. This is a straight-forward and to-the-point crafts book. If you actually want to get into ikebana and make a simple start, this is definitely the book for you.

It has lists of materials and what each tool does, diagrams, precise geometric calculations, and basic lessons in three different styles of ikebana. There are lots of pictures and countless examples, each one explained in detail. Shozo Sato's abilities are even complimented by a grandmaster of a major Japanese school of ikebana in the foreword.

If, however, you're looking for information - history, philosophy, etc - this may not be best. While there is a brief history section, for the most part this is a craft's book. It's a how-to book.

It was an interesting read and if you want to get into the practice, I'd recommend it. One thing I learned is that ikebana is NOT putting pretty flowers into a bouquet. It's more like a kind of temporary, artificial sculpture using plant-based materials. Like tea ceremony, it has strong connections to the seasons and what each one signifies in nature (especially Japanese nature).

So if you're any kind of model or sculpture based artist, I'd recommend giving this a try. Just remember - the "sculptures" don't last very long! ;)
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I have finished another book - The Tea Ceremony by Sen'o Tanaka, translated into English - and, funny enough, it's about Japanese tea ceremony. I'm here to write a review.

I have two criticisms about the book:

1) It's very... technical. If you're not into technical details of a culture or ceremony, this may not be the book for you.

2) You should already know the process of a tea ceremony before you read the book. He doesn't really ever give you the whole picture. This is more of a book for someone who's already researched tea ceremony, at least online, and wants to know more about it.

With that said, it's a wonderfully detailed book. It goes into so many subjects in such an in-depth way, and is excellent at communicating the beauty and serenity of the ceremony itself through the various details and practices he describes. He even goes into the philosophy of tea ceremony, and its connection to Zen.

I also thought it was interesting that he said tea ceremony has always technically been a co-ed art, because I've always seen it as more of a feminine art. I've now started a new book on ikebana - Japanese flower arrangement - and this author is also male! It seems that Japanese men have much less compunction being what might be called "femininely artistic" than Western men do, which is something I definitely applaud. Yay for no defined gender roles!

Anyway, if you're interested in learning about the above, this is definitely the book for you. I used it as research for a writing project, and it provided all the detail I needed to deeply understand the subject - at least to understand it enough to write about it. This book and my online research together were enough to give me a good idea of Japanese tea ceremony.

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Hopeless Dreamer

March 2016

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