Mill Valley resident Makiko Goto-Widerman, at center, along with her various floral arrangements and wreaths. Courtesy images.

When Makiko Goto-Widerman and her husband David decided to move to the Bay Area after 20 years in southern California, they thought they’d end up somewhere in Silicon Valley. But then they checked out Mill Valley during the landmark Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival – and their plans changed.

“The festival was incredible – there was so much creativity – and we just fell in love with this place,” Goto-Widerman says.

The couple moved to town in late 2016, and Goto-Widerman has immersed in the local artistic community ever since. Now she’s ready to pass along the knowledge and experience of her own creative pursuits: Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangement. She’ll do so by teaching a pair of classes at the Mill Valley Community Center on Ikebana and how to make your own holiday wreath, on November 18 and December 7, respectively. GO HERE FOR MORE INFO & TO REGISTER.

Born and raised in Tokyo, Goto-Widerman first learned European floral design and skills from Dutch Master Florist teachers at De Master Flower School in Tokyo, working there for a few years. She then moved to Seattle for three years to work for a small country garden-themed boutique as a dried flower designer, while also freelance writing for garden magazines and the newsletter of the Royal Horticultural Society in England. Goto-Widerman says one of her most exciting moments was visiting Martha Stewart’s house in Turkey Hill, Conn., when she was writing a book review of her gardening book.

Goto-Widerman moved to Orange County in 1996, taking private Ikebana lessons in master original Ikebana design from an experienced Japanese teacher. After receiving certificates from the first Ikebana flower school in Kyoto, she started creating her own style based on its classic design influenced by Japanese authentic Wabi Sabi.  

“My style is inspired by nature and emphasizes simplicity, natural, spiritual and therapeutic,” Goto-Widerman says, noting that she taught classes at local arboretums, art centers, community colleges, libraries and garden clubs, as well as a private Ikebana show at the Bowers Museum.

Though she had success, Goto-Widerman calls the floral arrangement business there “more of a mass production type of business. Here, it is more creative and much more comfortable for me,” she says.

Since her arrival in Mill Valley, Goto-Widerman has also gotten into the wholesale business this month, selling her natural and organic dried flower wreaths at Good Earth Natural Foods’ locations in both Tam Valley and Fairfax. The wreaths, approximately 14-16 inches in diameter, sell for approximately $50. 

The 411: Makiko Goto-Widerman teaches classes on Ikebana Japanese floral arrangement and making holiday wreaths on Nov. 18 and Dec. 7, respectively. GO HERE FOR MORE INFO & TO REGISTER.