Young Emirati Ms Amani Alshehhi, is the first United Arab Emirates national to obtain the certification of Ikebana Instructor from the Ohara School of Ikebana, Japan. The history of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, dates back 600 years and focuses on simplicity, asymmetrical beauty and seasonal materials. The emphasis on the Japanese aesthetic of “empty” space distinguishes Ikebana from flower arranging practiced in other parts of the world.
There is a long-standing tradition in Japanese artistic practices that students become certified by their own Master in the craft, and Alshehhi has been certified by her own instructor and received the Ikebana name Misaki (美咲) which means “beautiful bloom”. The certification to become Ikebana Instructor is the first step on a path that can eventually lead to the highest recognition possible, that of First Master of Ikebana. Classes at the Ohara School of Ikebana in the UAE are conducted by official Second Master of Ikebana, Harue Oki, in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Ikebana, also known in Japanese as kadō or “the way of the flower”, is one of the practices considered to be a Japanese “dō”, meaning “path” or “way of living”. Others include sadō, the way of tea, and shodō, the way of calligraphy, as well as the popular martial art, judō. These practices are a fundamental part of Japanese artistic culture, derived from Zen Buddhism and guiding the Japanese aesthetic sense and character.
On July 29, the Ambassador of Japan, H.H. Akihiko Nakajima, personally congratulated Alshehhi for her achievement and for being a “cultural bridge” between the UAE and Japan, as well as showing encouragement for her to continue studying the Japanese traditional art which can involve lifelong learning.
Alshehhi’s fascination with Japanese culture started at a young age when she was captivated by the beauty of Japanese kimonos. She furthered her appreciation of Japanese aesthetics by joining The Japan Club at Zayed University and gaining more hands-on experience of various different aspects of Japanese culture, including Ikebana. Alshehhi began studying with the official Ohara School of Ikebana in 2015 and completed over 120 classes. Her skills were demonstrated when she contributed to the special Ikebana arrangements at the national reception hosted by the Japanese Embassy on the occasion of the Emperor's birthday in 2018 and 2020. Says Alshehhi, “It is truly an honour to receive this certification from the prestigious Ohara School of Ikebana. I am sure the skills and knowledge I have accumulated will help me spread the profound message of Ikebana in the UAE as it goes beyond flowers and delves into the Japanese philosophy of life.”
In 2022, Japan and the UAE will celebrate the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. Both countries will conduct a variety of collaborative events to celebrate their shared accomplishments and build opportunities for further cooperation.