Kanreki is Japanese word denoting 60th birthday. The word derives its meaning from two words: kan meaning return, and reki meaning calendar. When a person turns 60, she has gone through the Chinese zodiac cycle five times, and she is back at her original birth zodiac. 60th birthday is seen as a chance to start over again, it is viewed as a rebirth rather than getting old. What a nice and noble idea! Happy kanreki, dear friend!
The color red plays a prominent place in kanreki celebrations – as red (aka-chan) is commonly associated with babies, and as such denotes someone going through a rebirth. Other than that, red is also associated with luck and prosperity and as the color which wards off evil spirits. So, you will see red color in our ikebana and in the food served for the celebration.
As we celebrate all small and big moments in our lives by making ikebana, Oslo ikebana enthusiasts decided to celebrate Vesna’s 60th birthday by making a joint table center piece – renka. The Japanese term renka (or renga) denotes a form of poetry written by multiple collaborating poets. One poet usually starts by writing the first stanza (three lines long, 17 sound units), the next poet adds the second stanza (a couplet with 7 sound units per line) and so on. The genre was elevated to a literary art in the 14th century. Renka sequences were typically composed live during poets’ gatherings. In ikebana, we transfer this idea of collaboration into making ikebanas in a row that in the end form one unit.
We decided on the type of kanreki renka ikebana we were going to make together. Thinking of our friend, we landed on making an elegant renka featuring balance of different elements – line, form and space. The materials we chose are: pine, chrysanthemum, baby breath, bamboo and tulips. In our arrangement pine represents – longevity, bamboo – flexibility, chrysanthemum – joy and long life, and tulips – promise of a new spring. The ribbon made of red pins – is actually bamboo.
The containers we chose are traditional, black, triangular, lacquered containers – we used seven of them.
After we enjoyed the joint kanreki renka during our meal, we disassembled it and everybody made an arrangement that they took home.