Ohara Circle Johor Baru

Ohara arrangements like these are created with plants
and flowers from the members' own gardens
Formed in 1990 with just 17 members, the Johor Baru Chapter of Ikebana International (IIJB) has developed as a club with some ikebana enthusiasts who are keen on the Ohara School of ikebana.  With a history that dates back some 500 years, ikebana has several schools of flower arrangement that follow a particular set of rules and techniques with the more prominent and popular schools being Ikenobo, Ohara, Sogetsu, Koryu and Ichiyo.  

The art of Japanese flower arrangement known as ikebana, which literally means, “living flowers,” follows a fixed pattern of a triangle with three points that represent Heaven, Earth and Man. 

Wall-hanging flowers, an Ohara arrangement
by Datin Ong Kid Ching
In Nov 2013, IIJB members keen in the Ohara School of ikebana, launched the Ohara Circle Johor Baru for a committed approach to study the style, techniques and creative expression of Ohara arrangements.  The Ohara School believes that it is important to observe nature and emphasises seasonal qualities, natural growth processes and the beauty of natural environments.

Guided by Datin Ong Kid Ching, charter member and past president of IIJB, the Ohara Circle JB aims to encourage and promote the study the Ohara School of ikebana and eventually seek affiliation with the Ohara School headquarters in Japan. Ong is also an ikebana instructor and skilled in pottery.

Members of the Ohara Circle have regular classes under Ong’s tutelage and as they mature in their study of Ohara, they are required to seek official recognition of their skills from Japan.  They will be given regular opportunities to display their floral art for the public in Johor Baru to appreciate this school of ikebana.  Members will also be provided with regular information and inspiration updates to help them acquire a better understanding of botanic materials, containers and given exposure to inspirational material and the work of talented ikebana artists.  
[R to L] Consul General of the Japanese Consulate JB, 
Tsuneki Matsuda with Ong Kid Ching and Chris Parry
To celebrate Oshogatsu, the Japanese New Year, the Ohara Circle announced their initiative, “Ikebana for Everyone” that reflects their aim to make ikebana floral art more visible and available to the public.  The dual benefit of this initiative is that Ohara Circle members will have more opportunities to practice and display their art while making their floral art more accessible to the public. 

This initiative started this year with a floral arrangement being provided weekly for the appreciation of the staff and visitors to the office of the Consulate of Japan in Johor Baru at Menara Ansar.

Vickie Yap with her Ohara arrangement
that depicts Spring time
designed in the Tateru style
“Besides presenting a weekly Ohara floral arrangement to the Japanese Consulate office in JB, Ohara Circle JB was also invited to demonstrate an arrangement in the Lunar New Year theme by the Singapore Chapter of Ikebana International,” said Ong.  She was delighted with the audience’s positive response and very pleased with the demonstration performed by Ohara Circle member, Chris Parry.  The Ohara Circle’s Oshogatsu event was marked by a luncheon with Tsuneki Matsuda, the Consul General of the Japanese Consulate in Johor Baru, as their special guest.

The Ohara Circle JB plans to have regular social events held in Japanese restaurants in Johor Baru where they will have a small display of their floral art.  The first of such events was held at the Arashi Japanese Restaurant at KSL City Mall where visitors and restaurant patrons enjoyed the displays for a week. 

Among the exhibits was an arrangement of wall hanging flowers by Ong at the restaurant entrance, a garden-like arrangement designed by Kamisah Hassan, an arrangement that depicts Spring time in the Tateru style by Vickie Yap and a signature Ohara design in the Moribana style by Chris Parry.

A garden-like Ohara arrangement by Kamisah Hassan
Chris Parry's creation is done in the Moribana style
There are no fees to join the Ohara Circle JB but members are required to be actively studying and pursuing certification in the Ohara School from Japan.  For more information about future events and membership queries, write to email: oharacirclejb@gmail.com.  A gallery of Ohara floral art is available on www.facebook.com/oharacircle

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Streets Johor on 3 February 2014

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