Diary

Memorable programs, memorable people

14 February 2019

Friendship Forged in Bouquets of Flowers

Ikebana, the stand-alone art of flower arrangement has hundreds of years of tradition in Japan. Arranging beautiful vases, flower pots, blossoming, colourful flowers and twigs, Japanese ikebana artists always express some special meaning. They hide symbols of our life in flower arrangements. The ikebana show organised by the Embassy of Japan in the building of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences evoked symbols of an old friendship, the beginnings of diplomatic relations between Hungary and Japan 150 years ago. It was a disarming gesture that the ikebana artist working in front of our very eyes, used the colours of the national flags of Hungary and Japan to for the bouquets, placing traditional Japanese flowers in traditional Hungarian vases, thus capturing the meeting of the two peoples, distant from each other in geographic terms nevertheless close in cultural terms.
I remembered our film director friend, the late Ferenc Kósa, who passed away recently and who had strong ties to the remote island country not just because of his Japanese wife but also because he made multiple films in Japan. Upon making the film Taigan – the opposite shore, featuring life at a zen-Buddhist monastery, a Japanese monk told him that as a student, he had been moved by a European film. There was immense surprise when it turned out that the film in question had been Ferenc Kósa’s work entitled ‘Ten Thousand Days’. The Japanese monk quoted lines from a poem by Attila József as a defining moment in his life: “And somehow strangely, I felt, with my eyes open, that I continue in the outside world as a body: not in the grass or trees but in the whole!”
At the ikebana exhibition, the first major event of the Japanese-Hungarian memorial year, I also felt that friendships can indeed bridge even the greatest of distances.