Spring Yoga Retreat

Bookings are now open for the following Seasonal Yoga Retreats:

Spring: September 18 Sunday & 19 Monday, check-out Tuesday
Summer: November 13 Sunday & 14 Monday, check-out Tuesday
Late-Summer (2023): February 19 Sunday & 20 Monday, check-out Tuesday

 

The Spring Seasonal Yoga Retreat combines the ancient wisdom of seasonal living, yoga practice, delicious and healthy Japanese food, and shiatsu massage.

Spring is a time for emerging from our winter cocoons. One of the most potent ways to activate spring energy is to wake before sunrise. Aim to be outdoors at this time in the morning…walking, jogging, practising yoga or perhaps an invigorating swim. The morning light sets off a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters that help you feel good.

Join us at Shizuka Ryokan for two days of yoga, seasonal Japanese meals, accommodation and fun. With Renee Willner as your guide, immerse yourself in the ancient practice of yoga. Explore physical postures, breath work, meditation and deep relaxation.

We have chosen practices which suit beginners and experienced alike. Furthermore, shiatsu, a type of traditional Japanese bodywork, is on offer. Along with the carefully curated menu, our intention is that you experience a restorative retreat to help you embody the spring season.

Shizuka Ryokan is Australia’s only traditional Japanese Ryokan Wellness Retreat. We are located in Hepburn, a place renowned for its healing waters. Simply being surrounded by the Japanese gardens and the quiet of a traditional ryokan is a grounding experience.

According to the five elements theory the seasons are governed by the five elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal. Spring is ruled by the wood element and rising energy. Spring is about rejuvenation, growth and expansion.

During spring we turn to foods such as freshly-picked, organic vegetables, and bean sprouts, celery, sorrel, rocket, young beets, Dutch carrots, and asparagus. It is time to decongest the Liver from the heavier slow cooked comforting foods of winter. Cooking times are shorter, little salt and oil are used. Less of everything is the general principle as we need to shed from our Winter body.  Do this as a gradual strategy that mirrors the weather shifts. On warmer days choose lighter veggie based stir fries and when the chill sets in, return to the slow cooking styles. Give the Liver a break by progressively phasing out rich and processed foods in preparation for the approaching hot summer weather. Using the seasonal citrus fruits in your water and cooking will support the Liver to decongest and enliven your skin.

Wood governs the joints, so yoga postures at this time focus on twisting, on promoting loosening and flexibility.


Sample retreat programme

Day 1

2-3pm   Arrive

3pm       Tea tasting

3:30pm  Welcome circle

3:45pm  Session 1: Arriving in the body

5pm       Free time

6pm       Dinner – Ramen

7:30pm Session 2: Yin yoga & meditation

9pm       Sacred silence until breakfast

Day 2

7:30am Session 3: Rise and Shine Yoga

9:15        Traditional Japanese Breakfast

10am      Free / Treatment time

11:30am Session 4: Breath exploration and philosophy

1:15pm    Lunch – Teishoku style

2pm        Free / Treatment time

6pm        Dinner – Omakase banquet

8pm        Session 5:Restorative yoga nidra

9pm        Sacred silence until breakfast

Day 3

7:30am   Session 6: Rise and shine yoga

9:15am   Traditional Japanese Breakfast

10am      Check-out / free / treatment time

11:30am Session 7: Kinhin Zen walking meditation

1pm         Lunch – Bento picnic in the Mineral Springs Reserve

2pm        Closing Circle Satsang

 

 


Testimonial

“I loved participating in the retreat! I loved the yoga sessions and walking session and the tea ceremony at the start. Renee was very patient and kind and taught us a lot. And I loved the beautiful food and drinks! Thank you so much for this beautiful retreat. I hope to see you again soon.

              – Aurelie – winter retreat

 


Price

Choice of:

  • Twin share $997 (bring a friend); or
  • Private room $1,396

Inclusions:

  • all meals (2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners & refreshments)
  • Seven yoga sessions (example schedule above)
  • One massage; your choice of Shiatsu or Relaxation (subsequent treatments available at extra cost; see spa menu)
  • All yoga props provided

About the instructor

Renee’s long interest in how the mind, body and spirit interact found its perfect expression in yoga, which she has practised for over 20 years. As a teacher she takes a holistic and fun approach that allows individuals to find what they need in the practice, in a safe, supportive and fun environment. Following the birth of her daughter, Renee sought a holistic approach to exercise that could integrate all her passions- healing, nature, embodiment, spirituality, music, empowerment & authentic expression- so she fell in love with yoga!

A Yoga Australia member, her extensive training includes: 500hr Purna at Byron Yoga Centre, Scaravelli, Feldenkrais, Donna Farhi, Yoga as Therapy- Doug Keller, Yoga of Birth- Anahata Giri and Rainbow Kids Yoga.

Renee is an experienced massage therapist with specialised training in pregnancy massage and deep tissue therapy. Her holistic massage treatments incorporate a range of clinical and energy healing techniques including shiatsu. Her background in luxury spa management and training ensure an exceptional client experience every time.

To book your place for a Seasonal Yoga retreat please call (03) 5348 2030 or email us at info@shizuka.com.au

2022 Seasonal Yoga Retreats

Bookings are now open for the following 2022 Seasonal Yoga Retreats:

Spring: September 18 Sunday & 19 Monday, check-out Tuesday
Summer: November 13 Sunday & 14 Monday, check-out Tuesday
Late-Summer (2023): February 19 Sunday & 20 Monday, check-out Tuesday

The Seasonal Yoga Retreats combine the ancient wisdom of seasonal living, yoga practice, delicious and healthy Japanese food, and shiatsu massage.

Join us at Shizuka Ryokan for two days of yoga, seasonal Japanese meals, accommodation and fun. With Renee Willner as your guide, immerse yourself in the ancient practice of yoga. Explore physical postures, breath work, meditation and deep relaxation.

We have chosen practices which suit beginners and experienced alike. Furthermore, shiatsu, a type of traditional Japanese bodywork, is on offer. Along with the carefully curated menu, our intention is that you experience a restorative retreat to help you embody the autumn season.

Shizuka Ryokan is Australia’s only traditional Japanese Ryokan Wellness Retreat. We are located in Hepburn, a place renowned for its healing waters. Simply being surrounded by the Japanese gardens and the quiet of a traditional ryokan is a grounding experience.

According to the five elements theory the seasons are governed by the five elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal.

Spring is ruled by the wood element and rising energy. Spring is about rejuvenation and growth.

During spring we turn to foods such as freshly-picked, organic vegetables, and bean sprouts, celery, sorrel, rocket, young beets, Dutch carrots, and asparagus. It is time to decongest the Liver from the heavier slow cooked comforting foods of winter. Cooking times are shorter, little salt and oil are used. Less of everything is the general principle as we need to shed from our Winter body.  Do this as a gradual strategy that mirrors the weather shifts. On warmer days choose lighter veggie based stir fries and when the chill sets in, return to the slow cooking styles. Give the Liver a break by progressively phasing out rich and processed foods in preparation for the approaching hot summer weather. Using the seasonal citrus fruits in your water and cooking will support the Liver to decongest and enliven your skin.

Wood governs the joints, so yoga postures at this time focus on twisting, on promoting loosening and flexibility.

Summer is governed by fire which is associated with expansion.

This is the time of fulfilment; the trees are green and fruit is plentiful. In our yoga, we look at these aspects and try to replicate them by practising softer postures, and focusing on the voice and breath. There is more communicative paired and group work designed to elevate our mood; relaxation and meditation are also important.

Summer is a time for eating light foods that assist with cooling our bodies. These should be fresh and colourful and overcooking is to be avoided. Fresh salads, stewed or baked fruits, and moist, round grains which become fluffy—such as millet, tapioca, couscous, corn, polenta and pearly barley—are ideal.

We may be drawn to the bitter flavour of burnt food, to what’s been barbecued or tossed on a fire. Eating foods that have been cooked quickly helps to support the heart and small intestine. Hot, spicy foods that promote sweating and make us aware of the rising of our inner fire are also recommended. Look to hot climate cuisines for recipe inspiration.

Make fruit infused waters all summer long choosing from pomegranate, passionfruit, purple grapes, watermelon, cucumber and mint. Sip them, unrefridgerated, throughout the day to stay hydrated and topped up with essential nutrients.

Sprouted Mung beans are another summer food that you can add to salads to cool the body, relax the liver, and keep your skin protected during the sun season.

Late summer is ruled by the earth element. During the late summer, there is a strong sense of gathering energy to the centre, of settling and mulling over what has been learnt. This is a special time, between the summer and autumn, as it signifies where we stand – whether grounded, nourished and supported, or chaotic, anxious and disconnected.

If we care for ourselves and create health through our digestion and our actions, then we will feel grounded and balanced moving forward. During the late summer we continue with summer cooking styles but begin to incorporate quick oil sautéed dishes. We reduce the use of matchstick cutting and grated vegetables in our salads and use slightly larger, chunkier cutting such as longer, wider strips for root vegetables, whole leaf greens or bite sized cubes. Whole sweet corn from the garden nourishes our spleen and stomach to revitalise our energy.It is important to stay connected to the season now. We can avoid pre-empting autumn’s cooler weather by avoiding food that is too heavy in nature.

We may be tired during this transition season from our busy socialising and the effects of the hot summer. Paying close attention to weather changes, and matching our cooking strategies to them, can support the vitality of our immune system. This helps us to meet the cooler weather and prevent the colds and flu that herald the seasonal change.

Autumn is ruled by the metal element. Autumn is about feeling strong and is a time for shedding outgrown patterns and beliefs.

During autumn we turn to foods that support our lung health. Pungent vegetables such as wasabi, watercress, cabbage, turnip, horseradish, pepper, onions and garlic are wonderful at this time of year. As the weather grows cooler it is beneficial to eat more soups and stews made with seasonal vegetables. (You can often see Yuchan, the cook at Shizuka Ryokan, collecting pine mushrooms from the nearby pine groves at this time of year which she adds to her delicious Autumn Hot Pot.)

Autumn is the time to turn inwards, sleep a little longer, practice letting go, and create a time for meditation and relaxation.

Winter is governed by water. Becoming internally focused is important during winter; it’s a time for contemplation and resolve, preparation and coming to rest.

Warm foods that are baked or stewed for a long time are ideal. Dishes should be oilier, fattier and saltier than at other times. If you eat meat, this is most appropriate season to do so, especially fish. Nuts, buckwheat, lentils, and barley stews should be a feature. Mushrooms, cabbages, cauliflower and daikon support our bone structure, which is mediated by the kidneys. Soy-based products such as miso, gomasio, tamari and shoyu should be used because, along with the other recommended ingredients, they draw the body’s energies deep.

Keep up hydration by drinking warm water and herbal teas during the day.

Support collagen production by eating plenty of dark leafy greens and seeds and nuts each day to fill out and hydrate dry skin. Eating soups with sea vegetables will also plump out your skin and boost collagen.

Walnuts and sesame seeds build our Kidney energy and benefit hair and skin lustre. They also work to lessen dark circles under the eyes.

A large part of our yoga practise during this season will be based on giving expression to the flowing, dissolving energy associated with this element. This is a dormant time of the year when deep changes take place. Plants lose their foliage and sap flows deep, establishing roots and buds that will later flourish. We should feel encouraged to follow this pattern by internalising our energy and examining our depths.


  • Twin share $997 (bring a friend)
  • Private room $1,396

About the instructor

Renee’s long interest in how the mind, body and spirit interact found its perfect expression in yoga, which she has practised for over 20 years. As a teacher she takes a holistic and fun approach that allows individuals to find what they need in the practice, in a safe, supportive and fun environment. Following the birth of her daughter, Renee sought a holistic approach to exercise that could integrate all her passions- healing, nature, embodiment, spirituality, music, empowerment & authentic expression- so she fell in love with yoga!

A Yoga Australia member, her extensive training includes: 500hr Purna at Byron Yoga Centre, Scaravelli, Feldenkrais, Donna Farhi, Yoga as Therapy- Doug Keller, Yoga of Birth- Anahata Giri and Rainbow Kids Yoga.

Renee is an experienced massage therapist with specialised training in pregnancy massage and deep tissue therapy. Her holistic massage treatments incorporate a range of clinical and energy healing techniques including shiatsu. Her background in luxury spa management and training ensure an exceptional client experience every time.

To book your place for a Seasonal Yoga retreat please call (03) 5348 2030 or email us at info@shizuka.com.au

Nabe of seasonal vegetables

Autumn Hot Pot

As the weather cools it is time to enjoy nabe, or hot pot, lovingly prepared with seasonal vegetables. Hot pot is a selection of meat and vegetables simmered together in a flavourful broth. Japan is famous for Shabu Shabu, pork and vegetable hot pot, and Mizutaki Nabe, chicken hot pot. But vegetarian variations made with mushrooms and tofu are equally restorative. You can be creative, varying the ingredients according to season and mood. 

Ingredients

Broth:

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon cooking sake

1 tablespoon mirin

1.5 cups water

Toppings:

Hakusai cabbage (also known as Napa or Chinese cabbage) finely sliced

Choice of: Shiitake / Enoki / Shimeji mushrooms

Carrot finely sliced

Choice of : Tofu/ Fish / Chicken / Pork slices

Spring onion chopped into 1 cm pieces

Ginger minced, to taste

Garlic minced, to taste

 

Method

Combine soy sauce, sake, mirin and water in a donabe (traditional clay cooking pot) or a heavy bottomed saucepan.

Bring to a boil.

Add cabbage, mushrooms, carrot or thinly sliced meat, spring onion, ginger and garlic.

Simmer until vegetables are just tender and meat is cooked through. If using tofu reduce heat to avoid boiling.

Variation: You can also add miso paste, kimchi, udon noodile, rice, or chilli.

Remove from heat.

Pour into serving bowls and serve.

 

 

The Ministry of the Environment in Japan even publish a How to use Furoshiki page on their website!

Furoshiki: Japanese traditions

Photograph showing furoshiki indigo fabric packages

Furoshiki are traditional Japanese wrapping cloths made of squares of silk or cotton. The custom of furoshiki wrapping dates back to Nara period, when cloths were used to wrap and transport precious temple objects.

The term furoshiki originated during the Muromachi period when the Shogun Askikaga built an onsen (a traditional Japanese bath-house) and invited the lords to visit. The royal guests packed their belongings in silk cloths decorated with their family crests.

During the Meiji period common folk were allowed family crests, and furoshiki grew in popularity. In the Edo period public bath-houses (sento) became widespread and furoshiki was used as a mat to stand on while undressing, and a wrapping cloth to carry the clothes. The term furoshiki is a combination of furo meaning bath and shiki meaning to spread. (The Japanese equivalent of an Aussie standing on their towel in the beach carpark.)

In 2018, an exhibtion took place in Paris. The installation, Furoshiki Paris, featured a giant, larger-than-life gift box wrapped in furoshiki in the centre of the Place de l’Hotel de Ville. This is a photograph of two lion statues holding furoshiki bags.

Furoshiki wasn’t just confined to the bath-house. Furoshiki became a way for merchants to carry their goods. Furoshiki usage declined after the introduction of paper and plastic bags to shoppers in Japan. But interest in furoshiki has exploded over the last couple of years as more people around the world forgo giftwrapping in favour of zero waste alternatives.

Furoshiki celebrates the Japanese principle of mottanai—a sense of regret over wasting anything. Making the most of the Covid lockdown, Catherine, the owner of Shizuka Ryokan, continued Shizuka’s mottanai quest by repurposing old yukata guest robes. Catherine saved squares cut from the cotton robes to make furoshiki. Shizuka chef Yuchan then used these DIY furoshiki to wrap take away meals.

Further Reading:

Get inspired watching a video of a staff member at Kakefuda Kyoto, a famous furoshiki store in Kyoto, demonstrating the different ways to fold a 105cm square of fabric. The video even claims that Mick Jagger purchased a furoshiki from the store.

Download an infographic from the Japanese Ministry of the Environment depicting 14 ways to fold a furoshiki.

The Ministry of the Environment in Japan even publish a How to use Furoshiki page on their website!

2022 Late Summer Yoga Retreat to traditional Japan (in Victoria)

Yoga in the Dojo

The 2022 Late Summer Yoga Retreat is BOOKED OUT. Bookings are now open for the following 2022 Seasonal Yoga Retreats:

Autumn: April 3 Sunday & 4 Monday, check-out Tuesday
Winter: June 19 Sunday & 20 Monday, check-out Tuesday
Spring: September 18 Sunday & 19 Monday, check-out Tuesday
Summer: November 13 Sunday & 14 Monday, check-out Tuesday
Late-Summer (2023): February 19 Sunday & 20 Monday, check-out Tuesday

The Late Summer Yoga Retreat combines the ancient wisdom of seasonal living, yoga practice, delicious and healthy Japanese food, and shiatsu massage.

Join us at Shizuka Ryokan for two days of yoga, seasonal Japanese meals, accomodation and fun. With Renee Willner as your guide, immerse yourself in the ancient practice of yoga. Explore physical postures, breathwork, meditation and deep relaxation.

We have chosen practices which suit beginners and experienced alike. Furthermore, shiatsu, a type of traditional Japanese bodywork, is on offer. Along with the carefully curated menu, our intention is that you experience a joyful and energetic retreat to help you embody the late summer season.

Shizuka Ryokan is Australia’s only traditional Japanese Ryokan Wellness Retreat. We are located in Hepburn, a place renowned for its healing waters. Simply being surrounded by the Japanese gardens and the quiet of a traditional ryokan is a grounding experience.

Oriental wisdom tells us to follow the seasons for a long and healthy life.  According to this view, the seasons are governed by the five elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal. Late summer is ruled by the earth element. During the late summer, there is a strong sense of gathering energy to the centre, of settling and mulling over what has been learnt. This is a special time, between the summer and autumn, as it signifies where we stand – whether grounded, nourished and supported, or chaotic, anxious and disconnected.

If we care for ourselves and create health through our digestion and our actions, then we will feel grounded and balanced moving forward. During the late summer we continue with summer cooking styles but begin to incorporate quick oil sautéed dishes. We reduce the use of matchstick cutting and grated vegetables in our salads and use slightly larger, chunkier cutting such as longer, wider strips for root vegetables, whole leaf greens or bite sized cubes. Whole sweet corn from the garden nourishes our spleen and stomach to revitalise our energy.It is important to stay connected to the season now. We can avoid pre-empting autumn’s cooler weather by avoiding food that is too heavy in nature.

We may be tired during this transition season from our busy socialising and the effects of the hot summer. Paying close attention to weather changes, and matching our cooking strategies to them, can support the vitality of our immune system. This helps us to meet the cooler weather and prevent the colds and flu that herald the seasonal change.


  • Twin share $864 (Early Bird if booked before 7 January) / $990
  • Private room $1,122 (Early Bird if booked before 7 January) / $1,350

About the instructor

Renee’s long interest in how the mind, body and spirit interact found its perfect expression in yoga, which she has practised for over 20 years. As a teacher she takes a holistic and fun approach that allows individuals to find what they need in the practice, in a safe, supportive and fun environment. Following the birth of her daughter, Renee sought a holistic approach to exercise that could integrate all her passions- healing, nature, embodiment, spirituality, music, empowerment & authentic expression- so she fell in love with yoga!

A Yoga Australia member, her extensive training includes: 500hr Purna at Byron Yoga Centre, Scaravelli, Feldenkrais, Donna Farhi, Yoga as Therapy- Doug Keller, Yoga of Birth- Anahata Giri and Rainbow Kids Yoga.

Renee is an experienced massage therapist with specialised training in pregnancy massage and deep tissue therapy. Her holistic massage treatments incorporate a range of clinical and energy healing techniques including shiatsu. Her background in luxury spa management and training ensure an exceptional client experience every time.

To book your place for a Seasonal Yoga retreat please call (03) 5348 2030 or email us at info@shizuka.com.au

Mitsuba Osuimono

Mitsuba—Cryptotaenia japonica—is a perennial herb used in traditional Japanese cooking. It is also known as Japanese Parsley or Japanese Honeywort. The leaves have a mild parsley flavour.

At Shizuka Ryokan, we use mitsuba in a very tradtional Japanese soup known as suimono—which translates as ‘things to sip’. Suimono is a clear broth. It is a deceptively simple soup, but in the hands of the chefs at Shizuka it is a masterful celebration of seasonal colours and the umami flavour.

Serves 2

4 stalks mitsuba
yuzu zest

For dashi:
2 cups water
5g kombu (dried seaweed)
5g bonito flakes

For seasoning:
1 tbsp sake
2 tsp mirin
2 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp sea salt

Tie the mitsuba stalks into a knot.

Gently clean the dashi kombu with a damp cloth. In a medium pot, add the water and kombu. heat slowly on medium heat.

Just before the water boils add the bonito flakes and turn off the heat.

Strain dashi  and transfer to medium saucepan. Add the sake, mirin, soy sauce and sea salt.

Place in serving bowls. Sprinkle with mitsuba and yuzu zest just before serving.

Serving suggestion: Add tofu, mushrooms, carrots or seafood to the broth.

Shizuka Ryokan is hosting Leanne from Kimono House in 2020

Boro at Shizuka Ryokan

Sunday 9th February 2020

Shizuka Ryokan will celebrate Japanese textiles in February when Leanne O’Sullivan returns to teach a one-day boro workshop. Boro is a type of Japanese mending.

Spend a relaxed day with Leanne learning how to hand-stitch, mend & quilt layers of recycled cloth to give them new life in the traditional Japanese way.

Be inspired by Leanne’s personal collection of vintage Japanese boro textiles and discover how boro is being stitched by artisans in Tokyo today. All materials will be provided including vintage kimono cloth with Japanese threads, needles and thimble – everything you need to create your own textile treasures to wear or have in you home.

About the teacher

Leanne first visited Japan in the 1980s, where she lived and worked for 5 years. It was during this time that she became interested in Japanese textiles, and the kimono in particular.

“Whilst living in Japan I was constantly inspired by the extreme contrasts around me—everywhere I looked there seemed to be a mix of traditional and contemporary co-existing beautifully.”

This contrast is evident in Leanne’s pieces, which combine new and vintage fabric, and traditional and contemporary design. These days, Leanne runs Kimono House Japanese Textiles & Craft —where she trades Japanese textiles and craft kits, teaches workshops and exhibits her collection of Japanese textiles.

To learn more about boro you can read the blog post on Shizuka Ryokan’s Japanese culture blog.

Shizuka Ryokan is hosting Rieko Hayashi this November

Food for healing workshop with Rieko Hayashi

10.30am – 3.30pm Thursday, 14th November, or
10.30am – 3.30pm Saturday, 16th November

Rieko Hayashi is coming to Shizuka Ryokan. Rieko is a nutritionist, chef and yoga teacher.


Rieko’s one-day workshop includes:

  • Welcome tea
  • Yoga and breath work
  • Healthy Japanese lunch–including fermented pickles, fish and bone broth, and biodynamic brown rice. *
  • Healthy eating tips from Rieko

* Please note the workshop recipes include common allergens such as soy, sesame and seafood.

Cost: $145 per person

Bookings: please email Rieko at rieko@riekohayashi.com

https://www.facebook.com/foodforhealingbyriekohayashi

Accommodation is available for workshop participants on Friday 15th and Saturday 17th. For accommodation enquiries please phone Catherine Defina at Shizuka Ryokan on 5348 2030.

Shizuka Ryokan's in-house ikebana practitioner, Trish Ward.

Ikebana : Japanese traditions

I’m at Shizuka Ryokan watching Trish Ward arrange plants in a Japanese ceramic vase destined for the coffee table. It is a Wednesday. Shizuka, closed for the day, is a hive of activity—there are deliveries for the kitchen, a Japanese yoga teacher meeting with the owner to plan a future workshop, a bearded artist up a ladder painting, a gardener, Cleo the dog, Hugo the horse, even a kookaburra on the deck. But despite the mayhem, Trish is calm and focused. She has entered the flow state.

Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arranging. It dates back to 7th century Japan, when floral tributes were made at Buddhist altars. Later ikebana was displayed in the home. Guests at Shizuka Ryokan are often delighted to discover an ikebana floral arrangement in the tokonoma—alcove—of their room.

Trish is Shizuka Ryokan’s in-house ikebana practitioner and the mother of Shizuka owner Catherine Defina. Trish has been creating ikebana arrangements for over 20 years. She is a member of the modern Sogetsu school, founded in 1927 by Teshigahara Sofu and based in Tokyo.  

Buddhist priests were the early ikebana masters and the art form was heavily influenced by tea masters. Trish says, ‘Samurai warriors used to do ikebana before and after battle to calm themselves. Women were not allowed to do it. It was a men-only thing.’

Plants play an important role in Trish’s life. Her home garden includes plenty of interesting flowers and foliage, ‘That is common among ikebana people. Whatever they grow, they think “ikebana”. The idea is to be able to go into your garden and just pick flowers and arrange them. It is as simple as that.’

Ikebana ties in beautifully with the awareness and appreciation of the seasons that underpins much of Japanese culture.

Norman Sparnon brought ikebana to Australia in the 1960s. Sparnon was born in Melbourne and as a youth became interested in Japanese culture. During World War II, he served in Japan under General Douglas Macarthur. After the war, he stayed in Japan for twelve years, studying ikebana under Kobayashi Sensei of the Einghin School and later with Sofu Teshigahara, founder of the Sogetsu School.

Sparnon returned to Australia, and dedicated the rest of his life to cultivating a cultural exchange between Australia and Japan. He lived in Sydney but would travel down to teach ikebana in Hawthorn Town Hall once a month.

Trish spent some time living in Indonesia, where she would see ikebana demonstrations at the American Embassy. ‘I quite liked it but with children I didn’t have time for such things.’ Years passed. Back in Australia, a friend took Trish to the American Embassy in Canberra for an ikebana demonstration and she was enchanted. Trish finally learned ikebana from a teacher called Teresa Feile in the Dandenong Ranges. Feile was a former student of Sparnon.

Today, there are over 1000 different schools of ikebana around the world and five schools of ikebana in Melbourne, under the umbrella of Ikebana International.

Trish is arranging a West Australian native as we speak. Trish has to select plants suited to the ryokan environment. ‘With the warmth in the guestrooms here, you need things to last.’ She points to a plant, ‘This is the Xanthorrhoea, the Grass Tree, commonly called Kangaroo Tail.’

Australian natives are a recent addition to the ikebana world, previously reliant upon European flowers. ‘There is a change in the whole culture. I think the Japanese use a lot of our natives so that has probably filtered through. But,’ Trish motions to the Grass Tree, ‘they are more difficult to use. There is lots of foliage on them. You’ve really got to thin it out because, in ikebana, less is more.’

Watching Trish thin out Australian native plants in a traditional Japanese way captures Shizuka Ryokan perfectly—a brilliant synergy of the Australian bush and Japanese tradition.

‘I just get lost in it. You fiddle around. And the next thing, an hour is gone. You gradually get an eye for it.’

The ikebana on display at Shizuka is free-style. Aside from Australian natives, Trish also incorporates fruit or vegetables. The spa treatment room at Shizuka is sometimes perfumed by a citrus fruit called a Buddha’s hand, or enlivened by the bright orange of a persimmon. (The weirdest thing that Trish has used in ikebana is the head gasket of an old car.)

Ikebana is very different to western floral art but like other traditional art forms, it is only after you have mastered the basics that you can let your creativity run wild. The old adage ‘You’ve got to know the rules to break them’ applies here. Trish did strict formal arrangements for the first five years. ‘Even though you are doing free-style, you’re still going back to the basics—the shin-soe-hikae.’

Shin-soe-hikae are the three elements of an ikebana arrangement. Shin tends to be the longest branch, soe is medium length and hikae is the shortest and closest to the base.

 We are very lucky to have Trish here at Shizuka Ryokan. She loves ikebana, ‘The colour, the shape, everything. It sort of all goes together.’

Ikebana International hosts annual exhibitions. The Sogetsu School exhibits at the Hawthorn Town Hall every year. You can also see Trish’s work every week at Seasons Restaurant at Cloudehill Gardens and every year at the Royal Melbourne Flower and Garden Show.