The Essence of Ikebana: Unraveling the Japanese Art

You will love the simple lines and elegant beauty of ikebana arrangements if you have ever placed a single stem of flower in a vase. The art of ikebana is a great way to convert people who thought that flower arrangements are too feminine or fussy for their home.

What is Ikebana and how does it work?
Ikebana, a Japanese floral arrangement, is made up of blossoms, stems, leaves and branches. It is a Japanese art form that dates back to the 7th century.

Ikebana History
Ikebana’s roots can be traced back to the 6th century Buddhism in Japan. Ikenobo appears so often in ikebana discussions, that beginners to the art may mistakenly think they are synonyms. The Japanese word Ikenobo describes a lakeshore. Kyoto priest, who lived on a lakeshore in Kyoto, was so renowned as a master of ikebana that he taught all those who wanted to learn this art. The Ikenobo School of ikebana, founded in 1545, laid the foundations for rikka ikebana designs that are still practiced today.

Fun Fact
In the same way that sympathy flowers are a part of many cultures, Buddhists believe it is important to offer flowers to the spirit of the dead to honor Buddha. The temple priests were responsible for this, and they gradually transformed these offerings into art.

Ikebana Flower and Plant Materials
In ikebana, it makes sense to value flowers and plants that are native to Asia. These flowers are associated with Japanese festivals. The iris, for example, is used to create ikebana patterns during the Boys’ Festival celebration on May 5th. Chrysanthemums are also prominent at the Chrysanthemum Festival, which takes place on September 9.

Camellias, tree peonies, and narcissus are also popular flowers in ikebana. In Western flower arrangements, greenery and stems are used to calm the flowers. Bamboo grass, willow and pine branches can be found in arrangements.

Ikebana Supplies
If you have ever dabbled with floral arrangements, you’ll find that ikebana uses many of the same tools and materials. There are three things that every ikebana artist needs to have in order to create basic arrangements.

Vases and containers: Ikebana container styles include glass, ceramic and lined bamboo baskets. Vases and Containers can be very shallow or tall and narrow depending on how ikebana is done and what plant materials are used.
Kenzan is the Japanese word for a flower-frog. A series of pins are attached to a flat mat or disk to hold the stems and flowers in place. Consider kenzan to be the Japanese equivalent of floral foam. Kenzan is particularly important for ikebana designs which use shallow containers.
Shears or Scissors: Ikebana shears have large, teardrop-shaped handles with thick, stout blades that are ideal for snipping delicate flowers or slicing through thick twigs.
Some ikebana practitioners use floral wire to support or bind together flower stems. To hide the kenzan, small decorative stones or marblings are placed in shallow vases and transparent vases.

Ikebana Styles
The majority of ikebana designs fall into three categories. Moribana is a style that uses a flat vessel, kenzan and multiple blooms. Nageire is composed of three loosely arranged plant groups that form a triangle. Shoku is an upright arrangement or vertical arrangement. It’s often placed in a tall vase. Freestyle Ikebana is an arrangement that doesn’t adhere to any rules.

Ikebana: A Guide to Learning It
With some basic instruction, it is possible to create simple ikebana designs. You can start your ikebana journey by watching some instructional videos or reading books about ikebana.