Ikebana Flower Arrangement -- A Tradition from Japan
Ikebana is a style of flower arranging that is as Japanese as the kimono or the tea ceremony. This floral art has been influenced by both the culture of Japan and by the simplicity of Zen buddhism. It combines tradition with innovation to create what can look like strikingly modern flower arrangements. However, Japanese Ikebana has a long history and, despite its recent popularity, it is far from being a new trend.
If you would like to learn more about Ikebana you are not alone -- there is a fast-growing interest in Japanese flower arranging in the western world as well as in Japan. The advantage of this surge of popularity is that Ikebana teachings are finally becoming accessible internationally. No longer do you have to yearn for a trip to Japan or try to understand the images in an Ikebana guide without being able to read the Japanese text. How-to books and even Ikebana classes are making it possible for us to discover this Japanese art for ourselves.
Image credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons image courtesy of Adriano.
Text copyright IndigoJanson.
Ikebana is a term that has come to include many different styles of flower arranging. After all, the Japanese have been arranging flowers for several centuries and over that time the art has evolved. In fact the changing nature of Ikebana reflects the larger changes in Japanese society.
However, there are certain rules, guidelines and techniques involved in Ikebana as a whole. There are also different Schools which promote the teachings of different Ikebana master practitioners.
If you learn Ikebana, you will come across the different 'forms'. You will also learn about the angles at which the different elements of an arrangement should be positioned, and the length of each.
In Japan, it takes years of serious study to master Ikebana. So don't expect to become an overnight expert. But do give Ikebana a go and you too can find the enjoyment in this contemplative art of flower arrangement.
Begin Your Japanese Style Flower Arranging Here
Although you are unlikely to learn everything about ikebana flower arranging from books, a good ikebana how-to book will definitely give you some insights into this art. It will also inspire you to take the flowers and foliage you have in your own garden or can buy from a local florist, and to transform it into beautiful Japanese-style floral arrangements.
One of the most popular Ikebana books, this guide is by Shozo Sato. As well as offering helpful information and lessons in the different styles of ikebana, it features photography of a range of stunning floral arrangements.
The book is divided into 4 parts. The first part will give you some background on the origins of ikebana, while the second will introduce you to the different styles, from Rikka and Seika through to Moribana and modern freestyle arranging. Part 3 talks you through the tools you need to make Ikebana arrangements and the different techniques you can use to shape, support and stabilize your flower arrangement. In part 4 you will find lessons in the different styles: Seika, Moribana, and Nageire. These include variations for formal, semi-formal and informal arrangements.
This clear guide is especially helpful if you are new to Ikebana, but will also be a treasured book in the library of more experienced practitioners.
Discover beautiful and very modern arrangements in this Ikebana guide, to fit into your contemporary home decor. The authors, Ikebana enthusiast Michelle Cornell and Ohara School master practitioner Diane Norman, take the reader through different moods and looks for each of the four seasons.
The gorgeous visuals make this book a pleasure simple to flick through and very inspiring. At the same time, the arrangements themselves are accessible for beginners and have clear pictures for each step of their creation.
The focus is on creating attractive arrangements full of harmony and balance.
Keiko's Ikebana is another popular guide to contemporary Japanese flower arranging. Keiko Kubo's book has 4 chapters, and it is in the final and longest of these that you will find step-by-step instructions to recreate 20 gorgeous floral arrangements.
If you are wondering about the earlier 3 chapters, this is where you will find an introduction to the art and to Keiko's own approach, followed by a look at the tools, materials and containers, the all-important Ikebana techniques, and the elements of design. Keiko also looks at both the Moribana and the Nageire styles, and shares with you a gallery of photography of her own beautiful and contemporary flower arrangements.
This is another good beginners' book with some inspiring ideas.
The Contemplative Side of Ikebana
Ikebana has a spiritual side that reflects key Buddhist ideas and is a type of moving meditation. While you can create pleasing Japanese-style arrangements without delving into the meditative aspects, it will give you new insights into the art. If you take Ikebana as contemplation seriously, you may find it brings more serenity and understanding into your life.
If you want to dig deeper into the Zen aspects of this contemplative Japanese art, this book by Gustie L Herrigel is for you. Don't be misled by the name, Herrigel not only lived in Japan but was married to a famous Zen scholar. It was published in 1999.
Heaven and Earth are Flowers looks at Ikebana in combination with Buddhism, and will be an enlightening read for anyone with an interest in the Buddhist path. It invited contemplation through the relationship of the Ikebana practioner with nature. Highly recommended by previous buyers.
Although you'll have to look out for a used copy of this guide to Ikebana as a moving meditation, the reviews suggest it's worth tracking down a copy. Moving meditation is a way of stilling the mind while still being engaged in an activity, in this case the meaningful arrangement of flowers and plants.
Step by Step Guides and Inspiration from Japanese Instructors
Ikebana sensei Keiko Kubo shares more of her experience in creating stylish floral arrangements. This book was published in 2010 and features modern and portable Ikebana ideas that make great gifts.
This is Ikebana from the Ichiyo School, perfect for complementing modern decor. The chapters include a look at the beauty of lines in Ikebana plus a guide to containers and to using bamboo, followed by a look at Ikebana for the everyday home. This book is by Akihiro Kasuya, a son of one of the founders of the Ichiyo School.
This Ikebana guide from Reiko Takenaka is simply packed with Japanese flower arrangement examples. Ideal if you like to follow step-by-step Ikebana instructions, though if you don't live in Japan you may need to be creative with alternatives for some of the plants. Published in 1996 but available from 3rd party sellers.