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Ms. Hisae Sougen

Ms. Hisae Sougen

Ikebana master, Sogetsuryu school of flower arrangement


Born in June, 1941, 79 years old.  Originally from Mojiko, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka.  Currently lives in Kyoto city.


Hisae has more than 60 years of experience in kadou (flower arrangement).  She started practicing ikebana when she was in high school in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka.  She moved to Kyoto after her marriage, and she was introduced to Sogetsuryu school of flower arrangement at the age of 23.

How did you meet Sogetsuryu ikebana?

I started taking ikebana lessons when I was in high school.  That was Ikenobou (kadou iemoto).  After I got married I moved to Kyoto, and when I was around 23, I started practicing Sogetsuryu from my mother in law who was an ikebana instructor.  10 years later, I opened my own classes at home.


Both my mother in law and I had classes in different places, so we had several exhibitions together.  She was also a master of sadou (tea ceremony) and I have been enjoying sadou with her for a long period of time.  Sometimes I helped her prepare for her tea ceremony.


What is the charm of ikebana?

The origin of ikebana is said to be the flower offered at butsudan (household Buddhist altar) or a grave.  And it changed its form with the times into something we enjoy in everyday life.  Now ikebana is displayed not only at home but also in huge public spaces, big facilities or on a stage.


In my case, I place ikebana in our entrance, guest room and living room every day.  I also put on a display at the exhibition every two years.  And I’m still teaching ikebana at home.


There are some basic forms to follow in ikebana, but beyond that, you can arrange your flowers as you like, using your intuition.  Nothing is absolute, so it’s essential to arrange ikebana in a way you like it.  What others might think doesn’t matter.  It’s your personality that matters.


Looking at my students’ works, I find it really intriguing that, the works during their twenties are full of energy, and the ones during their forties are elegant and sexy.  Ikebana piece reflects not only the creator’s age but also her personality and way of living.  That’s the charm of ikebana and it never fails to amaze me.




Today, young people are so busy working that they don’t have enough time to enjoy flowers, but I wish they will interact with a flower even a little bit in their everyday lives.  That’s why I give flowers to my family whenever I buy some.  In last New Year’s, my granddaughter sent me a picture of ikebana she arranged on her own.  I was very happy and praised her from the bottom of my heart.


Touching flowers brings me a peace of mind.  Also, I can connect with others by flowers.  I made a close relationship with my mother in law through ikebana and sadou.  Whenever I receive a picture of ikebana arranged by my children and grandchildren, I am happy for having something to pass on to them no matter how far we live.  Flowers remind me of my loved ones, the little conversation I had with them, and all those wonderful memories.  I sometimes feel that I am facing myself while facing the flowers.




I have seen one of your works at the exhibition. I felt the strength in the commanding atmosphere which was very attractive. What do you think is difficult when putting on your display at the exhibition?

To create my work for the exhibition is extremely tough each time.  First, I think for a while about the piece to create by drawing some pictures, including what kind of materials and vases to use.  The image of a piece differs depending on the season or the place to display.  It is very difficult to create the image, but my florists help me a lot by giving me advice and letting me know about the interesting flower they just stock.  Our relationship has been for 60 years already.



When it comes to arranging flowers, I have only one chance to get it right.  To make a big piece, it takes me for approximately two hours.  Whether it becomes successful or not is kind of accidental, but when it’s finished, I have a whole sense of achievement and exclaim, “I did it! I did it!”  When I am having the birth pangs, I don’t want anybody to see my work.  But once it’s done, I want to show it off to everybody, so I call my friends to inform them about my work.  I have been doing this for decades.  And the works created by other instructors and students inspire me, which is another advantage of the exhibition.


What is your favorite flower, and why?

I love all flowers!  I can’t pick one, and there’s no flower that I hate.  When I arrange flowers, I always try to “have a conversation with them.”  For example, I work with them thinking, “Which direction does she want to face?” “This little one seems a bit shrunk, so let’s turn her upwards,” “He is facing to this direction now, but he might be happier if I turn him towards that direction.”



I would also like to cherish the feeling of the season.  There are four seasons in Japan, and we have different flowers in each season.  It would be nice to use a tulip at the end of winter to get ahead of the season.  You look forward for spring to come, and you will feel brighter and more cheerful.  Last year during the pandemic, a small Japanese strawberry flower in my garden cheered me up.  You don’t always have to cut the flowers and create ikebana.  Just cherishing the little flower out there in nature is also wonderful.



You also have a long career in calligraphy and tea ceremony. What is the tip to hold on?

The tip to hold on?  Maybe because I didn’t have the courage to quit (laugh).  In my case, my husband has been really busy with his business so he came home after midnight every day.  It was quite usual that he came home at one or two in the morning.  I was grateful for him for letting me do whatever I like, but it was really hard for me to stay up late to wait for him every night.  It is so much better to do something I like than simply waiting for him impatiently, isn’t it?  So, I was arranging the flowers or writing calligraphy in my free time at night.  Also, my family understood me, and my neighbors helped me with my children, and I had friends to inspire each other.  These are the reasons why I was able to keep doing what I was doing.


I still place ikebana in our entrance and living room.  My husband seems to enjoy looking at them, asking me, “What is the flower for today?”  Although he never showed any interest in such things when he was young (laugh).  I wonder that’s because of his age.  I had many relationships with florists, lacquer ware stores, washi paper stores and so on during my life in Kyoto for more than 50 years.


It might be because I am full of curiosity, but while I’m talking to you, what I recall is only fun memories.  I am grateful for my family.




Lastly, could I have a quick word from you about WABUNBO?

This is cute!  This tiny size does the trick, doesn’t it?  My daughter’s family has lived in China for a long time due to their work.  My grandchildren can speak English and Chinese, so I am looking forward for them to translate your website into Chinese.