Although it is difficult to identify the true origins of Ikebana, the general belief is that it stems from the offering of flowers to the Buddha. At the beginning of the sixth century, when Buddhism was brought to Japan, the custom of dedicating flowers came with it . It was this custom that developed into the art of Ikebana. Another view is that customs of ancient times, such as putting up evergreen trees and arranging flowers to call the spirit-gods, developed into Ikebana.
The basic principle of the school is that ikebana can be done anywhere, anytime, and with any material. Its curriculum, divided into 4 basic courses and freestyle work for advanced students, encourages the application of art principles over the more traditional, rigid rules of arrangement advocated by other schools of ikebana. The Sogetsu School is headquartered in Tokyo and has 120 branches and study groups around the world.
In 2017, Sougetsu School will be celebrating its 90th anniversary. Its modern and art- focused approach has gained popularity internationally as well as with artists working with other media. Read more about the Sogetsu School and explore our Headquarter’s website.
Mercer Island Sogetsu Branch is a nonprofit group established in 1990. We celebrated our 25th anniversary in March 2015. Mrs. Mitsuko Hakomori, the founder of the group, started teaching ikebana at the Mercer Island Community Center in 1983. In 1990, Mercer Island Study Group was officially named and Mrs.Hakomori was appointed as Chairwoman by Iemoto Hiroshi Teshigahara, the headmaster of Sogetsu School in Japan. We were granted Branch status in March 2001 and the Charter was signed by Iemoto Hiroshi Teshigahara just prior to his passing away. Ever since inception of the Mercer Island Branch, Mrs. Mistuko Hakomori has been the Director of the Branch until her retirement in April, 2015. The current Director is Ms. Fanny Yau.
Our mission at the Sogetsu Mercer Island Branch is to promote this unique Japanese art form, Ikebana, to showcase our work to the public, in order to generate interest in the art of Ikebana.
Our regular activities include:
February – Ikebana arrangements donated from the group for raffle to the Seattle Conservatory as part of their Valentine event
March –Mercer Island Sogetsu Branch Annual exhibition , a free admission event where individual members display their work and present live demonstrations of putting together Ikebana arrangements
October – Flowalk in Pioneer Square where individual members of the group display their work at participating galleries
October through November – Ikebana arrangements from the group are displayed at the Seattle Conservatory as part of the Mum Season celebration.
In addition, we also hold workshops periodically for members.
Fanny Yau, currently a first grade Komon teacher of Sogetsu School, began her Ikebana studies in 1986 in Hong Kong under the guidance of Mrs. Mina Young. In 1992 when Mrs.Young moved to Australia, Fanny became the student of Mr.Tetsunori Kawana, a bamboo installation artist and master instructor from Japan. Because of her passion and desire to continue studying Ikebana, she joined the Mercer Island Sogetsu Branch in 2000 after she moved to the United States. She has been studying under Mrs.Mitsuko Hakomori, the founder of the Branch since 2000. Fanny was appointed Deputy Director of the Mercer Island Sogetsu Branch in 2004 and became the Director in April 2015.
Over the past decades, she has actively participated in Ikebana exhibitions and demonstrations. She traveled as an assistant to Mr. Kawana for his bamboo installation project “ PASSAGE “at the Mint Museum, NC in 2011,“ WEST MEETS EAST” at Denver Botanical Garden, CO in 2012, and “WATERWAY” at Moscow State University Botanical Garden, Russia in 2014.
She believes that the essence of Ikebana is to reveal the inherent beauty in any and all materials with one’s passion, patience, observation, imagination and creativity. The challenge to transform ordinary, uninteresting materials into beautiful, inspiring, and engaging works of art is the core of Ikebana practice and a source of joy for the Ikebana artist.
Shirley Hill has been active in the Sogetsu School of Ikebana flower arranging since 1987. She received her first teacher’s certificate in 1991. Through her love of Ikebana and continued studies she has subsequently achieved higher levels of certification from Sogetsu School Tokyo Headquarters. She currently holds the ranking of Komon.
Shirley is a member of the Sogetsu Teachers’ Association in Tokyo and is the Sogetsu Mercer Island Branch Deputy Director. She is an active member of Ikebana International Seattle Chapter 19. She served as the Chapter President from 2007-2009 and continues to serve on the Chapter board.
Shirley promotes Ikebana through demonstrations, classes, ikebana events, and arrangements for exhibits by I.I. Seattle Chapter and Mercer Island Sogetsu Branch. She regularly volunteers to display arrangements at the Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Shirley uses leaves, branches, seasonal flowers and her collection of unique vases for her arrangements.
She has been an active Ikebana teacher since 2003. She teaches her students to create arrangements with natural plant materials and the expression of “Balance, Color, Depth, Form, Line, Movement and Space” for their arrangements.
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Mercer Island, Washington, United States