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Explore Artisans Museums & Galleries Experience Itineraries About
© Daisuke Ito
© Daisuke Ito
© Watarai Toru
© Daisuke Ito
© Watarai Toru

Toru Watarai

  • Tumbler and flowers
  • Flower designer
  • Kamakura, Japan
  • Master Artisan
Toru Watarai Flower designer
Contact
Japanese, English
Hours:
By appointment only
© Watarai Toru

Mountain wizard

  • • Toru is a modern ikebana practitioner
  • • He defines his art as freestyle ikebana
  • • He lives in the mountains and gets inspired by the landscape around him

Whilst making bamboo vases as a hobby, Watarai Toru got curious about the ancient craft of ikebana for which the vases were made. In 2002, he enrolled into Ohara school in Tokyo, one of the most renowned schools for ikebana since its foundation in the late 19th century. “I was working as an editor and writer for a fashion magazine” he remembers. “Ikebana changed my way of thinking and helped me visually planning my articles and stylings.” That was years ago. Since then, Toru has devoted himself full time to ikebana, which he keeps studying with his master, and in 2019 moved to the mountain region around Kamakura. “Nowadays my art is my way of living and communicating with the world through plants” he explains.

Read the full interview

Works

  • © Watarai Toru
  • © Watarai Toru
  • © Watarai Toru
  • © Watarai Toru
  • © Watarai Toru
Photo: © Watarai Toru
Persian lilac

Fascinated by the criss-crossing branches and bent necks of the Persian lilacs, Watarai matched them with an undecorated porcelain vase crafted by artist Kiyoko Morioka. The whiteness and simple form of the latter beautifully contrast the movement and colours of the flowers.

Photo: © Watarai Toru
White pumpkins

Five milky white pumpkins are balancing on five white porcelain vases. Each one of them is differently oriented and defies gravity in its own way. To the artist, it’s a metaphor of life and its different expressions.

Photo: © Watarai Toru
Brussels sprouts

Used as we are to see Brussels sprouts in grocery stores, we may be surprised by how they look on the plant, with heads sprouting in a spiral around a thick stalk and broad leaves on top of it. Watarai found this Brussels sprout plant at a farmers’ market in Kamakura and made an ikebana of it, just placing it in a very small container that highlights its shape and lines.

Photo: © Watarai Toru
Pink jasmine with wisteria vine

Three elements comprise this ikebana: a tall, black vase; wisteria vines collected in the mountains, that Watarai chose for their shape and size and wrapped around the vase; a branch of fragrant jasmine in bloom, that he carefully hung to the wisteria to replicate its natural appearance.

Photo: © Watarai Toru
Apple mint

A branch of apple mint fell in the artist’s garden because of the heavy rain, yet continued sprouting new, vertical buds. Impressed by its vitality, Watarai turned it into an ikebana that doesn’t lean on its container but seems to float in the air.

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