Soho Sakai, a native of Japan, began practicing the ancient Japanese art and discipline of Ikebana in 1957 in Kumamoto, Japan. She received her teachers’ Diploma from the Sogetsu School of Ikebana in 1961, just prior to coming to the United States. She currently holds the prestigious title of RIJI, the highest teaching rank of the Sogetsu School. Soho is also a member of the international renowned American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) and holds their highest designer accreditation.
In March 2004, Soho received the prestigious “SOGETSU SHO” award, and, in March 2007, the Sogestu School 80th Anniversary Commemorative Overseas Award from Headmistress Akane Teshigahara. In January 2014, Soho received the Bunka Hall of Fame Award from the Northern California Japanese American Association. In 2017, she received the Sogetsu “SHOREI SHO” (encouragement) Award as well as the 90th Anniversary Sogetsu Overseas Honor Award.
A much loved and respected teacher, she has taught in the Bay Area since 1974 and has a large and devoted following of over 150 students. Ninety of her students hold Sogetsu Teacher’s Certificates. Soho bases her teacher-student relationship on friendship first, followed by appreciation, cooperation and mutual understanding of Ikebana. She gently encourages each student to express his or her unique, personal, and often hidden artistic vision.
Soho is always in high demand as a demonstrator and floral designer for special events. She regularly gives demonstrations for numerous garden clubs, Ikebana International chapters, Sogetsu School groups, AIFD, and other special organizations. In addition, she has published a number of instructional videos and DVDs on Ikebana. Soho is known for her lively spirit and ability to relate to audiences.
Soho includes time in her busy schedule for membership in the Sogetsu Teacher’s Association, Tokyo, Japan, the Ikebana Teacher’s Federation, San Francisco, and Ikebana International San Francisco Chapter. She is a Guest Member of the San Francisco Garden Club, Honorary member of the Orinda Garden Club, and is the Chairperson of the Soho Study Group, which is authorized by the Headquarters of the Sogetsu School, Tokyo, Japan.
She says, “I am very lucky; I love people, flowers, nature, and what I am doing."