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    Japanese Men Prune Anxieties into Art


    by NTDTelevision

    Ikebana began in Japan's Muromachi Era about 500 years ago, blossoming among the nation's male artisans and aristocracy.

    Later, flower arrangement went middle class and co-educational, adding Western plants and flowers to the Japanese homegrown.

    Skill levels of students vary, but the relaxation provided is universal, says 45-year-old pharmaceutical firm worker Koji Takahashi.

    [Koji Takahashi, Pharmaceutical Worker]:
    "Always when the class starts at first I feel tired from work, but as long as I begin concentrating on how to combine the flowers and the vase, and I actually move my hands to create the composition, it's a change of pace."

    Founded in 1927, the avant-garde Sogetsu school focuses on "kakei" or patterns, offering courses ranging from beginner to teacher certification.

    Master instructor Gaho Isono says men in particular are hearing the call.

    [Gaho Isono, Master Sogetsu Instructor]:
    "I think that nowadays there's a lot of people looking for something that makes them feel relieved. There are many hobbies people can do now and there’s no longer a preconception that men cannot arrange flowers. They are free to choose whatever they like and the number of men choosing flowers is actually increasing."

    There are an estimated 3,000 ikebana schools in Japan with some 15 million enthusiasts, most of whom see flower arrangement as anything but work.