Junko Popham, Born in Tokyo, Japan.
After a varied career as a music journalist and concert producer, I moved to the UK in 1989. After a few years living in London, working for the publisher as a correspondent of art/design books and magazines, I moved to the small country town of Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire where my city girl’s eyes were opened to the amazing beauty of Britain’s nature and quickly discovered a passion for gardening. Beginning with my little cottage garden along the canal, and graduating to the neighbours' gardens, I finally found myself running a local gardening business. Around twenty years later I 'emigrated' to the north, Manchester, returning to city life with the idea of introducing/teaching Ikebana to people in West.
My meeting with Ikebana goes back almost 5 years, during my gardening period. On an autumn afternoon as I worked pruning in a customer's large garden, the trees, shrubs and flowers whispered to me - "Look at us carefully, our subtle colour, detail and unique shape; our natural beauty..." The next moment, I started to collect the pruned branches and twigs and took them home, arranging them carefully in a vase. It was my first day of Ikebana!
It took a while to find a fitting master to learn under but the right parson came in the right time, as it does when your passion wishes. Her name is Sakurako (meaning 'A child of the Cherry tree' in Japanese) who has been practicing Ikebana since she was 6 year old with her grandfather who was 13th generation of 'Kuwahara Senkei Ryu'; one of the oldest Ikebana families in Kyoto. Sakurako and her husband, Senkei now work together as the 15th grand masters of the family, living/teaching at their 150 year old traditional house in centre of the ancient Kyoto city.
Every time I visit Sakurako's classroom, I feel so lucky to have met her. She gave me the chance to rediscover a deep connection to my culture, giving me the opportunity to interpret this ancient art form in my new home here in the West.
Thank you Sakurako and Senkei, forever my masters!