"One day I came across a solitary white dandelion growing on a high stone wall. That was my first encounter with plants, and amongst my earliest childhood recollections," said Koka Fukushima.

Since 1982, Fukushima has visited more than 40 countries to give demonstrations and workshops on the Japanese art of flower arranging. At home in Tokyo, she gives demonstrations for official guests from overseas at the headquarters of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana. A master teacher at the school's headquarters in Tokyo, she also teaches its international class, and its headmaster class in Tokyo and Osaka. She is a director of the Sogetsu Foundation. With diverse experiences inside Japan, and outside from Bolivia to Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea and India, "Oh, yes," she agreed, "I am very flexible."

Born soon after the end of World War II, Fukushima was the sheltered only child of older parents. She was 14 when she began her Sogetsu ikebana lessons. With the joy of young life, she happily embraced the school's nonconformist outlook, introduced by its founder, Sofu Teshigahara. At 19 she received her first teaching diploma, "not unusually young if you are interested and keep studying," she said.