California draws in people from all walks of life. Angelinos and newcomers alike come together to learn, create, and be their best selves. Each person's journey transpires uniquely. With this in mind, we met with actress and multi-faceted artist Yoa Mizuno, in the beautiful warm hours before the sun set on the rooftops of Downtown. Here in Los Angeles, Mizuno practices a variety of art forms including ballet, music, acting, and Ikebana (Japanese flower sculpture), that forms an inspiring amalgamation for self-exploration.
You were born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. What fascinates you the most about this city and its culture?
I love how in Tokyo everything is mixed all together and compact, people, houses, and stores. The way people behave in public is affected by that. I enjoyed the Tokyo lifestyle, which is very chaotic. I was intrigued by how people in Tokyo switch their modes on and off quite dramatically. When it comes to working, they work extremely hard, and when they are off of work they party all the way. The next morning, they go back to work again. I don’t know if I could live like that honestly but there is something special about it. Los Angeles and Tokyo are quite different in terms of lifestyle because there is so much more space in LA, plus you don’t have cold winters. However, Los Angeles is influenced by Asian culture and so it does have some things in common with Tokyo. When I moved here from the east coast, I was amazed by how easy it was to access authentic Japanese food and products.
What is your relationship with your femininity? How do you define it? Was it evolution?
Japan is changing slowly and they are far behind when it comes to gender equality. Women still play certain old-fashioned roles in Japanese society; inequality is even built into the language. This is one of the reasons I came to the United States, to live in a society that gives me more space and freedom of expression. I think I could honestly say I am still exploring my relationship with my femininity. It is an evolution and a process.
ART OF LIFE
Ikebana is an art that requires persistence and patience at the same time. What does this art teach you?
I started to study Ikebana when I was five years old. It has been in my life for a long time and is the only thing I’ve continued doing consistently to this day. Yes, Ikebana affected me very much in so many different ways--- my personality, how I behave, how I see and feel things in the world, how I perceive art and nature. Partially this is because I had to learn so much about etiquette, public behavior, and rules through Ikebana school, and also it is because my teacher became almost a parent figure for me when I was studying with her. She was a very strict person. I remember I was always nervous to go to see her for lessons. I would say studying Ikebana with this specific teacher had more of an impact on me than simply learning Ikebana. She influenced me deeply as an artist and person.
LOOKING FOR SIMPLICITY
Do you feel that ikebana art can become popular in California?
Absolutely! I feel like it already has been gaining popularity little by little in LA and other big cities in America. Seeking simplicity has been a popular desire not only in America but all over the world these days, and I think people here in the U.S. see Ikebana as emblematic of simplicity realized through an art form. I’ve seen Ikebana used in set designs in fashion shoots, for example. I never thought I would see Ikebana in the fashion industry. Plus many people love flowers and plants so I see that Ikebana could draw a lot of interest.
What are you working on now in this crazy period of quarantine? Any career or hobby shifts?
I’ve been working on a photo book project with a friend of mine who is an LA-based photographer. We are creating a book that mixes Ikebana with portraits of me, along with a storyline. We started working on this project around the end of last year. We traveled to Japan before the pandemic and did photoshoots there too. I spend a lot of my quarantine time creating Ikebana and putting the storyline together for the book, which is a project I am very passionate about. I will be very excited to share this book when the time comes. Otherwise, now that I have more time, I enjoy cooking a lot at home and I started taking piano lessons as a hobby!