Finding Japan in Germany! Part2: Interview with Ms. Rie Ono, who teaches Ikebana in Germany.

"A report on Japanese culture found in Germany"-
In this article TJ writer wasabi, who is currently in Berlin, is interviewing people she found who are associated with Japan and its culture. This time, she interviewed Ms.Rie Ono, a lecturer on Ikebana at her workshop held at the Japanese tearoom, Macha-Macha.

Wasabi   Culture,


Unfamiliar to most Japanese people, the unknown history of Ikebana

Have you ever heard the word “Ikebana?” (生け花) It’s a Japanese art form that literally means picking raw flowers and arrange them into a new form, giving them new life. According to the lecturer Ms. Rie Ono, the first step of Ikebana is to think that the flower is beautiful. For example, when you see a cherry blossom flower and think it’s beautiful, hoping to take it home by cutting it down, the flower will usually die shortly after, however by decoratively arranging it, you can show your gratitude towards nature.



The attraction of Ikebana is something different from standard floral arrangements.

As soon as the workshop started, she explained the history of Ikebana and the idea of it. It is still unknown when Ikebana exactly started, but supposedly 500 years ago. During that time, tree branches were also referred to as flowers. Ikebana appreciates all concepts and efforts of an arrangement, not only the color of the flower(s), but also the shape of branch(s). This gives reason for choosing a specific flower(s), branch(s), technique(s), style(s), which is a bit different from the idea of your standard floral arrangement. Everyone was very attentive and thinking about what to make.



“I’d like to know about the Japanese sense of beauty.”

Following Ms. Ono’s lecture, everyone chose his/her own favorite flowers. People were enjoying their time, making me also want to participate in the workshop. One woman at the workshop said, “I decided to come here, because I was interested in Japan and would like to know about the Japanese sense of beauty.” Another person stated that their hobby is Bonsai. Participants came to the workshop for a variety of reasons and interests. It was very picturesque to see everyone arranging flowers according to their own creative taste. The selection of flowers was limited, but each work was so different, and reflected each and everyone’s own taste.


Ms. Ono was looking at her student’s work, advising, and correcting them one by one. It felt like magic when seeing how everyone’s work started to improve with her advice.

A lecturer, Ms. Rie Ono.
A lecturer, Ms. Rie Ono.

I started Ikebana as a side business and gradually got into it.

Ms. Ono Rie, the lecturer of Ikebana, moved to Berlin from Japan 4 months ago. I interviewed her and asked her the reason why she first started practicing Ikebana.

“I used to work at a large American IT company in Japan, but had a lot of overtime. I couldn’t stand it and began to worry about my life after retirement. So, I started to think about post-retirement activities. I tried Ikebana, Bonsai, ceramic art, and making natural yeast bread. From these options, I decided that I enjoyed Ikebana most, which led to my becoming an Ikebana lecturer today.”

People consider many ideas for a side business after retirement, but what she came up; Ikebana, Bonsai, ceramic art, and making natural yeast bread, I thought were very unique.

“I learned Ikebana for 5 years and taught it for 2 years in Japan. I wanted to live abroad and work as a freelancer. Coming to Germany was kind of a blessing.”


I also asked her what she wants to tell the people in Germany through teaching Ikebana. She replied,
“The spirit of hospitality, that’s it. For example, if you decorate a cherry blossom branch just before spring, it’ll create a topic(s) for discussion between people like, “Oh, spring has come very soon.” The way you chose flowers is also a part of Ikebana, so I like to teach ideas for what’s necessary in each creative step of Ikebana.”

By seeing her, teach Japanese culture in depth, in a foreign country, so far from Japan, it somehow filled my heart with cheer.
If you are ever in Berlin, please visit her regular Ikebana workshops.


【Details of workshop】
※Please inquire her in person.
Rie Ono (

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Writer / Translator

I’m a freelance translator from Tokyo who likes to travel right in the middle of the unpredictables in life. Through the translation of articles I hope to create points of contact between Japan and the rest of the world. As a writer, I want to add information that isn’t in the guide book, from a “wasabi” perspective!



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