The hustle and bustle of our daily lives often leaves us feeling run down or overwhelmed. Our minds are so preoccupied with thoughts of stress and obstacles to overcome that we neglect the idea of just letting go and rediscovering the value of simplicity.
However, Webster teaching assistant, Kana Morishita, aims to educate her students that so many of the beautiful aspects of life can be found in the smallest places and that through the study of the traditional art of Ikebana, a person is able to reflect on the importance of harmony in their lives.
Morishita, who is teaching the class, Japanese Mindset, was covering the subject of Zen Buddhism and felt that Ikebana, or the Japanese art of flower arrangement, would be a good hands-on activity for her students. She wanted to provide them the opportunity to experience the peace and beauty of nature, especially within the Webster campus.
“Students need to be aware of what is blooming and appreciate what they have now,” said Morishita. “I appreciate that we have four seasons, and the time of winter to spring is always a joy. We are so lucky to have spring.”
The arrangements, completed by the 13 students in the class, featured the manywild flowers and grasses found throughout Webster’s campus. Morishita found that students really responded to the hands on learning experience that Ikebana provided and that interacting with nature really emphasized the principles of the Zen mentality.
“I didn’t expect bringing students outside would be so fun. Getting outside of classroom and seeing the grass and looking at the cherry blossoms. Webster has so many beautiful flowers, and my students told me the name of the flowers in English, so I learned as well.”
The arrangements were displayed in the showcase on the third floor of Webster Hall in the Department of International Languages and Cultures and utilized vases donated by JASWA (Japan America Society Womens Association). Morishita wanted to ensure that the project did not have any monetary costs as to emphasize that beauty doesn’t require an individual to spend money.
She also wanted the project to display the differences between Japanese and American mindsets, noting that Americans may miss out on the harmonious relationship between people and nature. It is not always about purchasing a large bouquet of flowers but rather sometimes finding a unique or special bud.
“Americans love presents. When they want to give flowers, they go to flower shops to buy manufactured items, but sometimes one single flower in a single vase is very pretty to look at. The thing that has value isn’t always about the amount of price.”