Flower Master Wows at Casino

Akihiro Kasuya, the headmaster of the Ichiyo School of Ikebana that is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, conducts a hands-on workshop at the Historic Gulfport Casino on Wednesday, April 11. He repeated the key concepts of “natural or unnatural” while turning different types of plant materials in the air during a 30-minute demonstration. Once the natural position of a flower or other piece of plant material is determined, it can be placed in a container to create a pleasing arrangement, he said.

Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arranging and a namesake international non-profit organization is dedicated to the promotion and appreciation of the art form. Nine different schools of design are a part of the effort and the headmaster of one recently traveled from Japan to conduct training in Gulfport.

Since 1983, Akihiro Kasuya has been the headmaster of the Ichiyo School of Ikebana that is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. He and his son, Naohiro Kasuya, the headmaster designate, conducted a stage demonstration on Tuesday, April 10 at the Catherine Hickman Theater, followed by two days of hands-on workshops at the Historic Casino, on Wednesday, April 11 and Thursday, April 12.

According to the school’s website, the Ichiyo curriculum emphasizes a style of flower arranging that “harmonizes with the various spaces in our environment” and the senior Kasuya is “one of the best-known contemporary Ikebana artists” in the world.

Ikebana International was founded by and is administered by volunteers.

Workshop organizer and attendee, Gail Newman of Venice Island, Florida in the winter (and Rochester, New York in the summer), was sitting at a front table on Wednesday at the Casino.

How did she get involved in this effort?

In November of 2005, “I saw an ad in a newspaper for Ikebana International,” she said. “I went to the show, saw all the beautiful arrangements that used minimal materials and I thought I could learn how to do that! I became a member that day then took lessons and learned.”

Following the international group’s motto of “Friendship Through Flowers,” Newman has traveled extensively to learn the art, including to locations such as Manila, Tokyo and Paris.

When traveling to Ikebana International sponsored events, said Newman, “I feel safe and welcomed anywhere I go.”

Newman simplified the art of Ichiyo down to three words: container, location and materials.

She explained that you could start with any one to build a pleasing arrangement.

“When you look at a physical location, you can determine the size of the container that is needed, its color and the types of floral materials” that would work in the space, she said. Alternatively, “you could start with flowers you have been given” and from there determine the “color, shape and size of container” needed for a location that would complement the arrangement.

For more information about the St. Petersburg chapter of Ikebana International, visit ikebanastpetersburg.com/home.

About 80 people participated in special flowering arranging hands-on workshops held in the Gulfport Casino on Wednesday, April 11 and Thursday, April 12.




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