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When I was in my early 30’s trying to figure out what to become in my life, I had a brief flirtation with the idea of opening a store called Nothing But Flowers.  Even before David Byrne wrote the song.  In my 40’s, still a bit adrift, I traveled to Surrey, England to take a month long course designing flowers at the Constance Spry School of Flowers deep in the lush and lovely English countryside.  Following that, I worked for a time in a few flower shops but realized  that it wasn’t an ideal fit.  However, my love of flowers is always simmering on a front burner.


Imagine my pleasure when I unexpectedly walked into a blockbuster ikebana flower show at a department store just a few blocks from my hotel in Tokyo.  It was mobbed with hundreds of very excited, chattering  women, but I had a decided height advantage for a change, so I was able to take it all in, with just the slightest bit of pushing.


The Sogetsu School of ikebana is pretty wild, using natural and artificial materials, wild colors and a seemingly take no prisoners attitude.  Some astonishing arrangements can be large enough to fill a hotel lobby. They can be loud and theatrical, and unrestrained, but also fabulous.  This show  of what seemed like over a hundred arrangements, pushed me to think of using different materials when I try this at home.  Most likely on a more modest scale, unless someone wants to help me gather branches and palm tree debris.

I’m posting just a “small” number of the photos I took .  Hard to believe all this material was gathered, transported and made its way to the 8th floor of a central Tokyo department store and  assembled on site!  This was the 90th Anniversary show, so I guess they went all out.  I found it only by chance.  How lucky!

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Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Mark Dendy says:

    Wow what a wonderful find! The aesthetic sense is just so incredible. Shape, texture, color and composition all so perfect. I’m going a little stir crazy at this point so it was lovely to see you and take a little trip out of myself! Thanks

  • Elaine Clein says:

    All I can say is wow!! What great luck to chance upon it.
    Each time you go to Japan must admit feel a bit of envy rise in me. But I love reading about your time there. Maybe someday Fred and I will get back.

  • Albert Reid says:

    Hi Diane, I envy you your time in Japan. When I first joined the Cunningham company in 1964 the first tour we did was for six months around the world, legendary in the company’s history. Our last part of the tour ended in Japan and we performed in Tokyo, Kobe and Osaka. The Japan leg was sponsored by Sofu Teshigahara, then the grand master of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana. His son, Hiroshi, directed the film ‘Woman in the Dunes’ and also made a short film about his father’s school. So it was interesting to Bill (also on that tour) and me to read about your happening on this celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Sogetsu school. We’re leaving tomorrow, Thursday, for a week in NYC, primarily to see two performances of the Indian Kathakali company, of which we have strong memories, and of course we’ll be packing in a lot more as well. Enjoy the rest of your trip. Albert >

    • devapnek says:

      Albert, what extraordinary memories you must have of that era. I’d love to talk to you about it. I felt very lucky to stumble upon the exhibit! Have a fine time in NYC, and give my regards to Bill.

  • Judi Wallner says:

    Dianne, I’m just blown away…the show that we saw last year was amazing but this one is over the top. My personal favorite is the blue vase with the “slug” climbing over the top. How fortunate that you stumbled into the right department store! I know that you’re having oodles of fun…I can see why! Enjoy enjoy enjoy! Much love, J

    • devapnek says:

      Yes, this exhibit was on an enormous scale. I think these designers were the heavy hitters of the sogetsu school. Yes, I loved the slug too.