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Traditional meets technology as ikebana moves into a new generation

Using state of the art technology from Microsoft, a special visitor from Japan created nothing short of magic live onstage in Seattle

SEATTLE — Ikebana is the Japanese art of arranging flowers, stems, branches, and leaves, in a way that gives them new life. The tradition dates back more than 600 years.

At just 31 years old, Hiroki Ohara, the headmaster of the Ohara School, is considered one of the world's most revered Ikebana masters. But for him, it is a family matter. 

"The Ohara School of Ikebana has a long history, and the Ohara School has more than 120 years," he said. "My great great great grandfather made Ohara school. Now I am the fifth headmaster. The Seattle chapter of the Ohara School is the first chapter in the United States, and they have more than 60 years of history. That's why this is, Seattle is the special place for the Ohara school of Ikebana."

The mountains and foliage of the Emerald City create the perfect setting for a brand new kind of Ikebana, one where ancient art meets modern mechanics. 

Ohara took the stage at Ikebana Meets Technology inside Seattle's Benaroya Hall, wearing Microsoft's Holo-Lens Two headset. 

With the help of a couple of iPhone cameras, the audience watching could see Ohara's real and virtual arrangement in real-time. 

The interpreter explains to the audience that the perfect time to be in Seattle is when Winter slowly moves into Spring. The traditional combines with the cutting edge births a new kind of expression, making Japanese culture more relevant to a new generation. 

"It's kind of like the first step into this combination of art and technology, putting it with the traditional Japanese Ikebana, it's pretty cool to see," said audience member Andre Okada.

For more information about Ikebana, visit the Ohara School's website.

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