During my time in Tokyo I spent a lot of time at ikebana classes. So if you've ever wondered what it's like to take an ikebana class in Japan, here's a description of my experience!
Each teacher runs class a little differently, so take cues from your fellow students!
After you've checked in to class, select your spot at a table and begin preparing your work space. You'll need your clippers, kenzan, and a bucket with water to hold your fresh materials.
Every ikebana school has a defined curriculum made up of individual lessons that focus on building blocks of the practice. These lessons are grouped into levels so you can continue to develop your skills over many years. Each student selects their own lesson to work on during class, which allows you to progress at your own pace.
Select a vase and fresh materials appropriate for your lesson. You may select your fresh materials first and then your vase, or vice versa. When you're first starting out, your sensei will help you select the appropriate materials for your lesson. This is because each lesson requires materials with a specific set of characteristics, for example mass, line, or surface.
Get to work! People normally spend about an hour on their arrangement, depending on its complexity. When you finish your arrangement, clean your work area to display your arrangement to the best advantage. Then sit quietly and appreciate your work, or admire the work of your classmates.
When most student have finished their arrangement, the sensei will give a demonstration. This was always one of my favorite parts of class, as I always enjoyed seeing the creativity and mastery of those who have practiced ikebana for many decades!
After the demonstration the sensei will circulate around the room, correcting or tweaking each arrangement. The purpose of this feedback is to learn, and improve your arrangement and skills, so take in the suggestions and explanations!
Lastly, remember to thank your sensei with a bow and an "arigato"!