Sho-Chiku-Bai Serendipity

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As some of you may know, I’ve been wanting to do a sho-chiku-bai (歳寒三友. Three Friends of Winter) pretty much since I started learning and practicing ikebana. Unfortunately, plum branches are very difficult to find around here. They’re finicky, they’re expensive, they’re fragile, and most florists just don’t bother stocking them. So I shelved my plans and moved along.

Last week, my favourite local florist posted some photos of some, so of course I made a beeline for the shop. Unfortunately, they were put aside for a big contract project, but the owner said he’d keep any leftovers for me.

Today I made a detour to the walk-in clinic (nothing serious, just a weirdly swollen painful toe), but frustratingly, they weren’t accepting walk-ins anymore. However, the clinic is right next to the florist so I figured I’d duck in just to see. Lo and behold, he had a container full of freshly budding branches on the counter. It was meant to be! My trip to the clinic may have been a gigantic waste of time, but at least the trip wasn’t. I chose the one with the most appealing curve to it, and then three branches of lucky “bamboo” (it’s actually a variety of dracaena, but close enough…) to balance things out. I knew I could get pine branches from the park near my house. Funnily enough, when I got to the park, there was one large, perfect branch lying right in the middle of the path. I didn’t even need to cut anything, it was like it was waiting for me. Truly serendipitous!

The only thing that didn’t just click right into place was the actual photo, sadly. The lighting just wasn’t working out in this nook, and the arrangement is too big to fit unobstructed anywhere else. I might try again tomorrow before work, while the sun is higher. If it works out, I will update the picture. *Photo updated 02/23/2019

Kits-Mas Day 8 – Sho Chiku Bai

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Sho Chiku Bai (松竹梅), or Three Friends of Winter, is an auspicious motif comprised of plum, pine, and bamboo. I’d initially wanted to do an ikebana on this theme, but finding flowering plum branches here at this time of year proved utterly impossible. But then I remembered that this beautiful vintage kurotomesode I got recently had it as a motif, along with other bright and auspicious items. I know it hasn’t been long since I coordinated it last, but it still felt like the perfect start for today’s outfit.

I debated doing a simple and traditional coordination with a metallic obi and white accessories, but something felt lacking so I ended up doing a more geisha-styled outfit with the red obiage and then coordinated with a wide red-and-green obijime. I tend to do this a lot with my vintage kurotomesode, but somehow I feel that it does them more justice. Also, these accessories just feel so much more vibrant and festive, don’t they?

I love how these pieces look together but this obi is in really rough shape – there are several places where the weave is basically just shredded. So there’s my first (and likely only) resolution of the year; I’m going to convert this into a tsuke-obi because it’s beautiful but I don’t want to risk tying it again in the state it’s currently in.

I hope your new year is off to a wonderful start! I’m hoping this will be an excellent year for all of us.

Items used in this coordination