Perhaps it was good that I only got to spend a couple of days at a go each time in Kyoto when I was in Japan this time. Before my ceramics course in Seto started, I did a little bit of traveling – first to Gunma Prefecture （群馬県）, then to Kawaguchiko（河口湖） and then to Kyoto （京都）for 3 days. Each time I go to Kyoto I always have the overwhelming desire to stay on for much much longer. There’s just too much to see, do and discover. Probably for the ideal trip, it would be one whole month just wandering around Kyoto to really get a feel of the city with its unending labyrinth of backstreets and worlds behind worlds. However, in view of its distinct 4 seasons, the only way to do it would be to experience Kyoto in all its glory for at least 4 months of the year. In other words… perhaps a year in Kyoto. >;) Yeah, it’s good to always have dreams isn’t it?
One of the best Matcha lattes I’ve had at Iyemon Salon Kyoto. Strong taste of matcha, with a gorgeously velvet smooth texture with the addition of milk. And that was after a really hearty seasonal breakfast set meal. (-insert drooling emoji-)
The other incredible highlight of my time in Kyoto was being able to attend my very first Ikebana Exhibition. Completely by chance, I was walking along the street towards Iyemon Salon Kyoto when I realised that right on the opposite side of the main road was the Ikenobo Headquarters. As luck would have it, there was a special exhibition going on that very weekend which I later found out from my Sensei, only occurs twice a year. Yet another funny scene it must have been to any passerby, me in my somewhat scruffy grey hoodie, jeans and sneakers, lining up behind a really long line of well dressed (many in spanking Kimono) elderly Japanese ladies waiting to enter the lift which would take us to the 6th floor where the main event was held. It was such a great experience though, seeing so many exhibits, some so large I never would have imagined it possible for anyone to even arrange. There were some consisting of huge trunks that literally looked as if they had been uprooted from a park nearby and then placed into the largest vase the Ikebana artist could find. So many things that you never thought were possible till you see it first hand.
Something about the vitality and vigour of this arrangement that tugged at my heartstrings. And with branches like these, it’s really all about careful pruning such that the lines you wish to place emphasis on appear. To be able to visualise the end result already while starting the process of pruning just…amazes me.
Nothing like seeing that the median age of the guests in attendance was probably 50 – 60 years to make you feel inspired to continue learning actively like them for your whole life. 😉 It wasn’t uncommon for me to walk past two or three ladies, one perhaps in her 60s and one in her 80s or 90s, whole head in white yet still elegantly dressed in a kimono, commenting on the style of the arrangement, likely a teacher with her students in tow. After that I discovered the Ikebana shop and was head over heels in love with it. All the equipment you could need for the arrangements, textbooks, stationary…the works. For me, it’s always comforting to see people much older than me still pursuing an interest of theirs and knowing that the learning will always continue. So patience and persistence is key.