In 1962, Bessie Yoneko Banmi Fooks, 1st Generation Headmaster of Banmi Shofu Ryu took her first lessons in Japan, and because her creations took a naturalistic form, her Ikenobo-sensei referred her to Bansui Ohta-sensei, then Shofu Ryu Iemoto. During Bansui Ohta-sensei’s frequent visits with her daughter in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Bessie Banmi-sensei, then living on the island nation, continued to study with her.
In 1972, Bessie Banmi Fooks received her professor’s certificate, and authorization to establish Banmi Shofu Ryu. She continued teaching in Tainan, Taiwan, exhibiting and demonstrating kado during Ikebana International world and regional conventions for close to 50 years, wherever she and her husband taught for the US DoDDS took her family – Japan, Germany, Turkey, Philippines, among many. Her body of work consistently highlighted the hallmark of Banmi Shofu School – employing the use of driftwood, not as an artifice, but as a way of connecting with the spirit of driftwood in creating a floral design. The driftwood pieces she used came to life as they infused floral arrangements with their living spirit.
In her role as 1st Generation Headmaster of Banmi Shofu Ryu, Bessie Banmi Fooks conferred the school’s first teaching certificate in 1974 to a student from her initial roster and of students in Tainan, Taiwan, Ricardo C. Carrasco. Ric’s propensity with flowers began as a child watching his mother arrange ixora, gardenia, and jasmine flowers from the garden , paricularly , albeit unwittingly back then using kakebana containers. While working in the Far East as a marketing and advertising executive in the 60s, Ric sought ikenobo ikebana as a respite from the rat race of business. Engagement and participation in ikebana remained dormant until the lessons from Banmi sensei in Taiwan. That was the beginning of a sustained relationship with a continuing mentorship in the way of flowers and driftwood that lasted for almost four decades. While they taught their own students separately, exhibited and demonstrated in different venues and locations of the world, Bessie-Banmi and Ric-Bansho were always united in spirit. In 1996, they started translating the school’s formal curriculum, based on kado manuscripts from Bansui Ohta-sensei, which until then were verbally passed from one iemoto generation to the next. Another source of history and curriculum structure were Josui Oshikawa and Hazel Gotham (1939) who provided explicit construction instructions for creating Shofu Ryu and Ikenobo designs. In doing so, they supplied the much needed supplementary didactic and practical foundation for Banmi Shofu Ryu. The translation and refinement of the Banmi Shofu manual is now complete, & includes updated graphic representations, Japanese and English names for each form, and dovetails with each level of Banmi Shofu study and training for future sensei.
Two days before her death in July 2008, and in the presence of her family, Bessie Banmi installed Ricardo Bansho Carrasco as the 2nd Generation Headmaster of the Banmi Shofu Ryu after over 40 years of kado study and practice. Within a month, Ricardo Bansho launched a 5-year plan that combined their shared vision of practice, teaching, exhibiting, and promoting friendships through flowers and driftwood across the globe. This plan included the celebration of when Bessie Banmi Fooks took her first steps of Ikebana in Tokyo which was 50 years in the Fall of 2012. The celebration comprised workshops, exhibition, and demonstration in Fo Shan Guang Ming Temple in Orlando, FL, all of which were open to the public. To date, Banmi Shofu has been represented in Ikebana International world conventions, regional conventions in Asia and the America’s, as well as US chapters starting with Chapter 1 in Washington DC. Banmi Shofu sensei have collaboratively provided Ikebana as a contemplative occupation to entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy students from Nova Southeastern University, Tampa Bay Regional Campus In Clearwater, Florida since it’s inception in 2012. The school has coordinated other ikebana schools and provided demonstrations and ikebana lessons at Epcot during its annual Flower and Garden Festival.
HAIKU TO THE MOON
moon moon come shine on
me send your beam to warm me
moon come shine on me
Bessie Banmi Fooks, July 19, 2008
Summer of 2014 takes Banmi Shofu Ryu across the oceans for a cultural exchange and service to Ikebana International members and officials in Japan, connecting with flower friends through a visit at the Daikakuji Temple, classical lessons from Saga Goryu, tea ceremony in Kyoto, climaxed with a demonstration, exhibition and tea at Art Laksy in Tokyo. Image on the right features the historic Osawa Pond, which sits next door to the Daikakuji Temple. The pond is a 1200 year old man-made body of water that is the oldest and last surviving example of a Shinden style garden. The pond was originally built for Emperor Saga's detached palace, and was used to throw elaborate parties and for recreational activities such as boating, fishing and moon viewing. For more information about the Daikakuji Temple: https://www.daikakuji.or.jp/english/
Photo shows Ric Bansho carefully inspecting a large driftwood during a Banmi Shofu demonstration prior to putting it into a vintage salt jar he inherited from his mother.
Currently, Ric Bansho is a member of Ikebana International which is based in Tokyo Japan, and in Florida -Orlando -Winter Park, Chapter #132, and St. Petersburg, Chapter #65. He has served as President and other positions with various chapters.
As a not for profit cultural society, Banmi Shofu Ryu does not charge for classes or demonstrations. Donations are welcome to cover the cost of flowers, line materials, containers and venue, as well as the cost of maintaining this website, publications, and representation at conventions and exhibitions.
While face-to-face lessons are available, virtual and correspondence classes may be arranged. Contact any sensei directly or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for lessons or demonstrations.
Professionally, Dr. Carrasco is an occupational therapist and a developmental neuropsychologist, and has provided clinical interventions to children, adolescents and adults with occupational dysfunction, the majority being secondary to movement and sensory processing challenges. He is Director & Professor of the entry-level Doctor of OccupationalTherapy (OTD) program at Nova Southeastern University at the Tampa Bay Regional Campus in Clearwater, FL in the United States of America. He has published and presented over 500 juried articles and courses and consults across the United States and the globe. His most recent scholarly undertaking is entitled "Flowers as Occupation: Narrative Inquiry of Shared Experiences by Ikebana Sensei," which he has presented as a juried research paper during international congresses such as World Federation of Occupational Therapists in Yokohama, Japan, and during the international research conference of the Society of the Study of Occupation, USA. Other ikebana-related studies include measuring the effect of ikebana engagement participants' anxiety-level indicated by salivary cortisol. Dr. Carrasco also conducted a study on the difference in neurophysiological and shared experiences by ikebana sensei and deshi.
Image to the right features Dr. Carrasco capping his keynote speech during occupational therapy month celebrations at the University of El Paso-