Hana-Ami: East Meets West in Ikebana


Gabriele Kubo and Kazumasa Kubo are a husband-and-wife team who run a “flower school” called Hana-Ami, and they have been very busy recently with shows and installations in Yokohama last month and in Tokyo this month. She brings a European perspective; he brings an Asian perspective. They have taught many people who have gone on to open their own schools to teach flower arrangement.


At 3331 Arts Chiyoda, the Kubos and their students (many now teachers) are showing their skills in a show called, 妖精たちのアビタシオン~森と泉からのinspiration also known as the Fairy show. Where do fairies live? What kind of flowers do they love? What would a fairy home look like?

DSC03797Gabriele Kubo’s piece was understated and one of the few horizontal pieces. She wanted it to look as natural as possible. She felt that many women do smaller, more subtle arrangements and that men tend to do larger, bolder arrangements and grab the spotlight. It is the same in the world of more traditional visual arts.


She was right! Kazumasa Kubo’s installation was much larger, vertical, and filled with unusual plants, including pitcher plants. Pitcher plants gather water at the bottom of their “pitchers”, and insects crawl in, fall into the water at the bottom, and drown.


Most of the flower artists used orchids, because the orchids reminded them of birds, butterflies, and fairies flying through the landscapes they made. The pink ones were everywhere showing off their bright hues, but some were smaller and much more subtle in colour. The rain on the sidewalk outside created the illusion of a stream.

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More small orchids flying through the forest…


They also arranged for a professional photographer to come and take pictures of the flower arrangements. It takes money, time, and hard work  to make these even though they only last a few days. It is also hard to take a decent picture of them in a room filled with people and other displays as background noise.


As you can see, a simple background makes a huge difference! This is one of the cuter, more literal pieces with the little door and felt balls as toadstools.


This one was very subtle and it was difficult to take a good picture of it. It was comparatively small and had one or two pink cloth petals as accents.

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Many of the arrangements had long, thin, vertical elements. This one has a smaller pitcher pant in the mid-ground and a small hydrangea in the back as accents.


Some used smaller flowers or plants for the fairies to enjoy.


Hana-Ami will hold a workshop at 3331 Arts Chiyoda on Saturday, July 4. I think they will discuss using unusual plants in arrangements.



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