JACCU is delighted to announce a collaboration with the Ohara Chapter Nederland to hold a demonstration and workshop of Ikebana – the Japanese art of flower arrangement, in Utrecht. Sign up form is at the end of the page.

For this article, our content writer Jessica Boentges spoke to Conny van Dongen, the president of the Ohara Chapter Nederland. She asked her about her personal relation to Ikebana, as well as her aspirations for the organisation.

The Ohara Chapter Nederland is part of a global organisation that promotes the Ohara style of ikebana, which is one of the most popular ikebana styles in the world. The Netherlands chapter was founded in 1995, and they have been very active in spreading the art of the Ohara style in the Netherlands.

How did you discover a passion for ikebana?

I have always been passionate about flowers and gardening. I also like Japanese food quite a lot. So I asked the Japanese embassy whether there is a place where I can learn to cook Japanese food. They did not have cooking classes, but they did have ikebana lessons. So I signed up to participate. That is how I discovered my interest in ikebana.

Ohara Ikebana in Utrecht

What is special about the Ohara school?

The Ohara School is a very natural way of arranging flowers and branches. The special thing for me is landscape arrangements in a vase. You look at nature carefully and try to adapt it into an arrangement. It’s not an imitation, but rather your interpretation of what you see. You really need to look closely at things. You need to see where the sun stands, where the wind comes from, and how it moves. I also like the basic styles that you start with. They are very simple, and simplicity is sometimes the best.

What are your goals for the ikebana workshop in Utrecht?

I hope that people in the Utrecht area will discover an interest in ikebana. While there are some other schools active in Utrecht, Ohara is not well known. I hope to find new students, or even start a beginner’s group for Ohara.

How receptive is the Dutch public to ikebana?

I think that people here generally like it, but not many of them have a strong enough interest to join an organisation or practise regularly. As a member there is much to do. It is only after taking a few lessons that you realise what it takes to participate in the organisation. You need to commit to the practice.

Ohara Ikebana in Utrecht

What does it take to develop an Ikebana practice?

You should have a lot of interest in studying Japanese culture. Then you need the initiative to learn as much as possible and take ikebana lessons. It takes many years to reach a high level and become a master.

Ikebana is also a way of life – it is not just about arranging flowers. It teaches you how to open your eyes to the things around you and incorporate them into your life.

What do you want to convey to people?

I would like them to experience a love for nature and show how easy it is to make a simple arrangement that brings you joy.

What are your aspirations for the organisation?

I hope that the organisation will carry on. At the moment, many elderly people run the organisation, and it is not easy to attract young people as members. They are afraid of the commitment. We hope to attract new, enthusiastic members through our upcoming activities.

What are some of your upcoming activities?

Ohara Chapter Nederland organises workshops 5 or 6 times a year. Other than visiting Utrecht in June, we have an important event in August when a Japanese professor visits the Netherlands to hold workshops at the organisation in Den Haag.

Ohara Ikebana in Utrecht

JACCU believes ikebana is a valuable cultural heritage that should be kept alive for generations to come. By collaborating with the Ohara Chapter Nederland to promote and spread ikebana in the Netherlands we hope to help them establish a presence in Utrecht.

If you are curious about Ikebana or the Ohara Style, don’t miss the special demonstration on the 4th of June, part of our 五感Gokan event. And sign up to participate in the workshop on the 11th of June at De Schuur.

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