x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Flowers to brighten travellers' days

From where I stand Yoko Edgeller, is originally from Sapporo, Japan, but works as a florist at the Dorchester in London.

Yoko Edgeller, a florist at the Dorchester in London.
Yoko Edgeller, a florist at the Dorchester in London.

I am from Sapporo, Japan, I'm 28, and I have lived in London for three years. I first came here in 2002, to go to college to study flowers, and now I work as a florist at the Dorchester hotel. I never thought I would leave Japan, but since I left I have travelled a lot - France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden and south-east Asia. A few months ago I went to Cuba. Now I prefer life away from Japan. It is more relaxed in Europe, and freer for women. Japan is still quite serious - workaholic.

Local people affect you when you travel. I've got a lot more sarcastic since I came to England. The British are very sarcastic. At first I thought they were just cold, then I realised they are very funny. What made me come to London to study was that seven years ago my mum passed away. I took a year off to look after her and then after she died I felt so sad. I'd done a course in flowers in Japan and really enjoyed it - I like creative things, not working in an office - so I decided to enrol in a college in England to learn more and also to improve my English.

What surprised me at first about Europe, and London especially, was how when it was hot people would take their clothes off and lie down on the ground in the park. In Japan, that does not happen. Girls in Europe like to tan their skin, but in Japan for some reason all girls want a white skin. After I finished my English course I travelled around Europe and then went back to Japan. I was sad because I had a boyfriend at college but my visa ran out. I started working at a flower shop in Kyoto. Then my boyfriend from college said he was taking a year off to come to Japan, so I knew it was serious. He worked as an English teacher in Kyoto. My family liked him - they didn't mind I was not marrying a Japanese man - and we got married in October 2005. He had to go back to England so now we live in Forest Hill, in south-east London.

I started my job at the Dorchester hotel two years ago. A typical day starts with checking all the big arrangements everywhere in the hotel, changing the water, cutting any wilting flowers, according to what's needed. There are a lot of banqueting events here so we do the flowers for those, too - for example, yesterday, 11 pedestal arrangements and 20 table arrangements, that took five of us two hours.

Quite a lot of florists have bad backs. It's because the hardest thing about this job is that you have to do heavy lifting all day. You carry buckets of water. I've got loads of muscles now. We are many races at the hotel and we laugh a lot - every day something funny happens. One day a guest booked the whole eighth floor and we made beautiful flowers everywhere, even in the corridors. But then the guest came - she was from a Middle Eastern royal family. She said, "Oh, I don't like it," so we have to start again and throw away all the flowers because there was no room to store them. Such a waste! But she didn't like the style. She liked modern, we did traditional. We were so tired after that.