Islamabad: The monthly meeting of the Floral Art Society of Pakistan (FASP) Islamabad/Rawalpindi chapter was held at the residence of the ambassador of Japan, Takashi Kurai, courtesy his wife Reiko. She is a regular attendee at the society’s meetings and offered to host one at her house – an offer which was appreciated and accepted gladly! Besides members of the FAS, the event was attended by a few other ladies, including the spouses of ambassadors and the ambassador himself, who gave of his time to meet the ladies and welcome them to his residence.
Floral arrangements made by the hostess and members of the society were already in place, so members and their guests walked into a room that showcased the beautiful exhibits of flowers and foliage – with the additional exhibition of two stunning kimonos and other artifacts set up by the hostess to showcase another part of Japanese culture. Embassy member Yukiko was the MC for the event and she spoke both in English and fluent Urdu, which was appreciated by the Pakistani ladies.
The programme began with recitation of Holy Quran and its translation by Hina Kamran; followed by President Ghazala Abdullah appreciating Yukiko’s Urdu language skills and presenting a token of appreciation to the hostess. She too spoke both in English and Urdu. This was followed by a reading of the minutes by secretary FAS, Nasreen Mazhar.
While flower arrangement for many people in the West consists of symmetrically arranging flowering plants in a vase, Japanese Ikebana is a lot more complex. The hostess began by briefly explaining the meaning of the word ‘Ikebana,’ which means, ‘to keep alive, arrange flowers’ and giving a short history of this unique Japanese style of flower arrangement, which can be traced back to as early as the sixth century. Ikenobo Senkei, a Buddhist priest, created the earliest form of Ikebana, called tatehana, or ‘standing flowers.’ There are many schools of Ikebana but three schools that predominate are Ikenobo, Ohara, and Sogetsu and it of the latter one that she explained the correct method with a diagram and flash cards. In between she narrated anecdotes of her mother’s expertise in the Sogestu method; her own preferences and so on. She also invited Orita – a Japanese lady who has made Pakistan her home – to explain the ‘shogestu’ method by analyzing the beautiful arrangement she had made.
After this, FAS members Asma Ansari; Farhat Zaman; Hina Kamran; Yasmin Salman and Nusrat Bilal spoke about the arrangements which they had created and the meaning behind them. While all of them were noteworthy – Asma Ansaris ‘Pakistan –Japan friendship’ featured a red flower (Japan) and green foliage (Pakistan) in white vases (background of both flags), with the aspidistra leaves used in both woven together to indicate the strong ties between the two countries, was much appreciated. Also worth mentioning is Farhat Zamans explanation of how malleable the aspidistra plant is –‘like a husband – you can mould it; twist it and make it do what you want’ if you care for it,’ elicited a chuckle and created some comic relief.
Before refreshments were served, the tradition of singing ‘happy birthday’ to FAS members was upheld – there was only one recipient – and the kimono exhibition was highlighted, with Yukiko explaining when the kimonos were worn and why. Needless to say, ‘selfies’ and photographs were the order of the day as the ladies preserved the memory of a pleasant morning thanks to the kindness and generosity of the Japanese envoy and his wife.