Shokunin and Flowers with T.K. Tan and Elaine Koo
In conjunction with our April trip, Spring Concerto in Kyoto with Shokunin and Flowers, there will be a pre-trip talk presented by resource persons T.K. Tan and Elaine Koo. Tan will enlighten us with insights about the shokunin and their influence on Japan; and Koo will offer an in-depth look into the annual Saga-Goryu Flower Festival. All are welcome to participate in this informative and interesting presentation.
T.K. Tan – Shokunin (職人)
In Japanese, the word, shokunin, refers to skilled manual workers who produce hand made consumer products, in contrast to modern industries and their mass production of goods, made possible by the industrial revolution. Words of a similar meaning could be found in different languages. However, it is probably only in Japan, and not in other countries, that the shokunin culture has managed to co-exist in the 21st century with top-end technology. Passed along through generations, the spirit of the shokunin is found in every aspect of Japanese life.
So what is shokunin culture? It is not just characterized by the consideration paid to the user's needs during the production process, but also the emphasis placed on both beauty and functionality of the final product. Shokunin culture is greatly influenced by the Japanese temperament and their view of the universe, believing that all things are inhabited by spirits, and thus have to be made and treated with great respect. Inspired by the passing of the seasons, the works of the shokunin often reflect the natural order of things – and beauty could be found in the smallest and simplest objects.
Tan is the Associate Head of the Centre for Language Studies, Hong Kong University's School of Professional and Continuing Education (HKU SPACE). Fluent in the Japanese language, he is a dedicated scholar who is devoted to promoting and furthering Japanese customs and ancient tradition.
Elaine Koo – Saga Goryu Flower Festival
Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, is known to have its roots in China. Ikebana Saga Goryu (嵯峨御流) started at Daikakuji (大覺寺), some 1,200 years ago by Emperor Saga in the 9th century. It aims to enhance the beauty of flowers as a classical art form, and to introduce an appreciation of their spiritual relevance into daily life.
In Kyoto, we shall see how Dongting Lake (洞庭湖), Buddhism, and notions of heaven, earth and man come enchantingly together at Daikakuji, the temple we shall visit for the Saga-Goryu Flower Festival.
Elaine Koo is a member of the HKU Museum Society and Past President of the Ikebana International HK. To help us better appreciate the Saga-Goryu Flower Festival, she will share some of the secrets and philosophy of this ancient school, and introduce us to several basic ikebana styles, their guidelines and meanings.