JEFF NIMEH

TOKONOMA

The Japanese tokonoma is an alcove within a traditional Japanese room where art is displayed and appreciated. It has a long history in Japan, but for fear of posting inaccurate information I will describe my personal encounters only. During my year-long tea ceremony class in Kyoto, observing the ikebana flower arrangement and hanging scroll at the front of the tokonoma, was the first thing done at the onset of each lesson. The scroll and flower arrangement often reflect seasonal sensibilities and aesthetics, and are changed throughout the year. This weekly ritual of observance was a way for me to put aside issues from the normal day and focus on the tea lesson (the tea lesson is much more than mixing tea and drinking it, it is learning a choreographed performance of movements that when mastered is done with grace, reminiscent of a dance performance.)   As I write this post, my wife and I are staring at our empty tokonoma in our 'machiya' house, and realize something needs to be done about this. Perhaps we could use the images below as a model. Image #1 shows the traditional display room at gallery H20 where I just concluded an exhibition. The hanging scroll is the work of the gallery owner Tsutomu Ohmukai. Image #2 is an overhead shot, and gives a better sense of how the tokonoma is situated in the context of the entire room.

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