Back to Main
Chicago Shimpo
Ikenobo Prairie Chapter Celebrates 20th Anniversary
With 46th Headmaster Designate from Japan

The first female headmaster Designate of the centuries-old Japanese flower arrangement school was the focus during the 20th anniversary celebration of the Illinois Prairie Chapter of the Ikenobo Ikebana Society of America in Urbana-Champaign.

Senko Ikenobo, 52, is designated to be the 46th headmaster of the 550-year-old Ikenobo school of flower arrangement. She will be the first female Ikenobo headmaster in the history of the school and is expected to be a breath of fresh air for this ancient art.

Ikenobo visited the Prairie Chapter, which celebrated its 20th anniversary from October 20 through 22. The three-day celebration featured her first flower arrangement demonstration in the U.S., as well as lectures, exhibitions and film screening. Ikenobo Headquarters Professor Manabu Noda, who obtained a master’s degree in East Asian Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 38 years ago, joined the demonstration and lecture events during the celebration.

The celebration opened on October 20 at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana, with the exhibition of 40 flower arrangements by the Chapter members as well as the works by Ikenobo and Noda. Ikenobo gave comments on each of the arrangements in fluent English.

On the 21st, Ikenobo presented a lecture at the University of Illinois Japan House about the future of the Ikenobo art of flower arrangement and hope for peace and humanity. Meanwhile, Noda hosted a full-day workshop at the Hyatt Place Downtown Champaign about the “jiyuuka” (free) style of flower arrangement. Seventy five people attended the workshop, including the Chapter members as well as Ikenobo students from all over the country.
About 150 people attended the celebratory banquet at the hotel in the evening. After the opening ceremony and speeches by Ikenobo and others, Chicago musical group Hanauta Duo provided a 30-minute performance of the flute and violin.

A film “Hanaikusa” (“Flower and Sword”) was shown at the Art Theater in Downtown Champaign on the last day of the celebration.
In the afternoon, Ikenobo presented a demonstration at the Krannert Center, while approximately 350 attendees, including Consul General in Chicago Naoki Ito, watched on intently. The demonstration ranged from classical to modern arrangements and was accompanied by Ikenobo’s short but clear explanations.
After the traditional “reishiki-ike” ceremonial arrangement was demonstrated by Noda, the event was brought to a close with the on-stage arrangement challenge by selected volunteers from the audience.
Reiko Takahashi, a member of the Chapter, enjoyed Ikenobo’s two-hour demonstration a lot, describing it as a “dynamic performance” that kept the audience interested the whole time with good, clear explanations and a sense of humor. The headmaster designate told the audience that she would expect to see them “again for the 25th anniversary,” Takahashi said.

Ikenobo returned to Japan immediately after the events, while Noda stayed behind to host workshops for senior-level students on the 23rd and 24th.

Senko Ikenobo, the first female headmaster Designate of the centuries-old
Japanese flower arrangement school, demonstrates Ikenobo ikebana.

One of her works demonstrated at the 20th anniversary of the Illinois Prairie Chapter of Ikenobo

Ikebana exhibition by the Illinois Prairie Chapter of Ikenobo at the Krannert Center, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

A photo of the member of the Illinois Prairie Chapter of Ikenobo with Senko Ikenobo (C)