Friendship prevailed despite the torrents of rain on Friday, September 29 as JHC kicked off its first Japanese Arts and Culture Weekend in partnership with the Japan Society of Greater Fairfield County (JSGFC), Ikebana International of New York and the Topaz Museum, Utah. The three day event took place at the future site of the Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Exhibit and Performance Center at the Jay Heritage Center in Rye.
At an opening reception, over 45 guests were introduced to the Japanese tea ceremony beautiful executed by members of the Urasenke School, their teacher Suzuki Miyako Somi and her students, all attired in traditional garb. Participants drank cups of rich and fragrant green tea each made for them individually. Music enhanced their experience of mindfulness.
Surrounding the guests were almost two dozen breathtaking Ikebana flower arrangements displayed in a brightly lit gallery. One spectacular design was over 20 feet in length – it was made out of driftwood and bamboo covered in anthurium, chrysanthemum, bird of paradise flowers and more and created by a team of artists including mentor and seasoned exhibitor Judith Setsuko Hata. Practitioners of Ikebana strive to highlight the elegance of select blossoms, branches, leaves and stems set in sculptural containers, honoring their ephemeral and seasonal beauty while following a set of traditional principles. Two other magnificent installations were placed at the entrance to the building and in the Jay Estate Gardens.
Welcome remarks were delivered by JSGFC president Jackie Alexander and JHC President Suzanne Clary. The two recounted the origins of their non-profits’ collaborations and mission to grow their partnership through further community outreach and joint events that celebrated the exchange of Japanese and American culture and ideas. Attendees were mesmerized by the history behind a rare artwork by Koho Yamamoto that was on display for the first time. Complimentary remarks from Tomoe Sato, the representative of the Japanese Consulate General of New York, were followed by a champagne toast, a ceremonial dedication of a Higan cherry tree for the Jay Estate Gardens and a tasty reception with sushi and bites from Maruichi.
The painting exhibit and Ikebana show remained open to the public on Saturday and Sunday as part of NY State Park’s Hudson River Valley Ramble. Japanese music by Mr. Nori Ishikawa and vendor offerings of glazed pottery by Namiko Kato and Hiroko Yokotagawa and upcycled obis by Obi-Obi made for a very festive experience for all who stopped by. NY State Assemblyman Steve Otis added his congratulations to the organizers and all the volunteers who helped make the endeavor a standout!
Photos by Kim Crichlow