I spent a wonderful afternoon learning about Ikebana (the Japanese art of arranging flowers) at the Asian Arts Museum last Saturday with the President of the Wafu School of Ikebana in the California chapter, Fusako Hoyrup Sensei.
The word Ikebana means “live flowers in a container”; it allows us to enjoy indoors the charm and beauty of landscapes, the seashore, or lakeside. The practice dates back to the 6th or 7th century in Japan as simple offerings on Buddhist altars but has now become an art form in everyday’s life. There are now about 3,000+ schools of Ikebana in Japan.
The Wafu School, founded in the early 20th century, emphasizes complete harmony among the flowers, vases, and the environment. Wafu style brings out the “natural beauty”, respecting the flowers and plants in their natural state.
The fundamental way of arranging the flowers is to create a trigonal pyramid (or more accurately an inverted, oblique trigonal pyramid.) The lengths of the 3 main stems are different and can be simplified as long, medium (2/3 of long), and short (1/3 of long). The length of the long can be determined by the height of the container + the width (at its widest) of the container. Then, you can add complementary or supplementary stems as necessary.
I love learning that these flowers and plants harmonize each other as well as with the artist and the environment. You would know which flowers to buy or use because flowers talk to you. Arrange the flowers and plants facing toward the sunlight because this is the natural way how plants grow! This way gives the arrangement more depth and natural beauty.
So here is the result of my very first Ikebana lesson – ta da!
Could you guess that the focal point of this arrangement is the 2 lowest-placed tiger lilies? Can you sense that the flowers are coming toward you?
Thanks to Sensei Fusako Hoyrup, I have learned some simple but very important lessons of life as well – bond with nature and appreciate it anywhere. Here is a lovely arrangement by the master, herself.
Asia is very famous for its traditional and diversified cuisines. In China alone, there are at least 12 popular regional cuisines (my personal favourite is Cantonese, Chiuchow/Teochew, and Shanghainese) you can come across.
Cooking is certainly daunting for many but looks easy for many others, too. But I know that it is really through trial and error, lots of hard work, and talents that lead to the delicious recipes. Here are the talents whom I learn some of the local Asian cookings from – online thanks to YouTube and the blogs! I hope you would enjoy these as much as I do.
I first came across Maanghi (name of her website) when I was attending an Asian food demo at the local Asian Art Museum when the presenter said that this was her go-to Korean website to learn cooking. I have felt in love with this lady and her cooking (blog and online) ever since. And her newsletter is a bomb. Check out one of her most popular posts – Kimchi and this very popular Korean stew dish at Korean restaurants – Kimchi Soft Tofu Stew
With 2 million page views on her Just One Cookbook Facebook/Blog/YouTube channels, Nami is one of the most popular Japanese American bloggers on Japanese cooking and she also studied in the Bay Area (what a cool photo!). She also shared many aspects of traditional Japanese culture and her travel experiences which are a joy to read. Check out this simple Omurice (Western-influenced Japanese omelette rice) and my oh so favourite Green Tea Latte video amongst many others (like this Japanese cheesecake one).
I have recently enjoyed reading Pat’s cookbook called “Farm to Table Asian Secrets” and am impressed by the many flavours of the South-East Asian cooking that can be replicated at home. She also uses fresh and seasonal farmers’ market ingredients, which are always a plus. She also write about other SE Asian cuisines (Indian, Vietnamese, etc.) You would enjoy this Yellow Rice (Nasi Tumpeng) and the Chicken Tikka Masala (which is actually a British national food and not an authentic Indian cuisine!)
European flaire and the Denmark’s popular lifestyle – hygge (“cozy” or “enjoyment”) can be found in an unexpected part of Hong Kong called Wan Chai, which is famous for its night clubs, restaurants, and markets.
This is Lee Tung Avenue, which used to be the famous street of book/news publishing and wedding cards printing in Hong Kong. It has been redeveloped into a shopping arcade with plenty of European pleasure, shopping, eating, and sweet indulgence in the midst of busy Wan Chai.
A couple of weeks ago during Sunday lunch, I attended a University alumni function at the St. Francis Yacht Club in the Marina district, described as the most prestigious yacht club in the Western U.S.
While the club is no doubt very nice, what captured me the most that day was the surroundings and the leisurely San Franciscans on a sunny, beautiful afternoon by the Bay in San Francisco. I ended up walking back home from the marina – about an hour of leisurely walk! What a feast for the eyes and goodness for the body!