Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. Sometimes it is also referred to as “Kado,” or “The Way of Flowers.”
From Childhood my wife Satomi has informally learned Ikebana from her mother, who is a licensed Ikenobo-style teacher, and continues to take lessons with her teacher in Fukui, Japan.
This traditional art is a way of displaying flowers and interior decorating similar to western flower arrangement. However, it is unique and different in the following ways:
Unlike western flower arrangement, which emphasizes color, volume, and full-bloomed flowers, Japanese flower arrangement appreciates a lack of color, empty space, and other areas of the plant, such as its stems and leaves.
The beauty is to be expressed with a minimal number of blooms. In other words, it has to be “Just Enough,” but not “Too Much.” Here is an example of the “minimalist” approach:
Representations of Nature:
This serene art form aims to bring raw nature into your room. Therefore, it uses seasonal materials, several different types of plants, and various parts of the flowers and plants in one arrangement. The ultimate Ikebana experience would be to climb a mountain and use the materials you collected on the mountain to represent that scenery in your room. This is an art that reflects the connection between nature, humans, and creativity.
Serenity in Avoiding Symmetry:
Western flower arrangements tend to have the same face from various angles, but Japanese flower arrangements usually have a centered front face. This is because Ikebana is traditionally displayed in an elevated alcove, called a tokonoma, or at the front entrance.
I personally think it is partially due to the limited size of Japanese houses, so there is not much space to display flower vases in places where people can see them from all directions.
However, thanks to this restriction and being front-centered, Ikebana has developed ways of showing depth using lines, shapes, and spaces, similar to perspective drawings or 3D effects.
Kado stems from Buddhism and animism within Shinto, and displaying a flower is a way to appreciate nature and connect the past, present, and future. For example, in a traditional style of ikebana, certain leaves represent the past (our ancestors), the present (ourselves) and the future (our children), and it is arranged in a circular shape representing the circle of life and death. These spiritual symbols that are inherent in nature remind us of the beauty of impermanence and how precious our time here is.
The Importance of Flower Containers and Tools:
Unlike western flower arrangement that often fills the container with various flowers and plants, the container displaying the flower arrangement is a very important part of this art. Our arrangement starts from choosing the right container for the flower material we are using and where you are displaying it.
Having the right tools for Ikebana is an important aspect of the art. The style and precision of Ikebana tools has been perfected little by little for hundreds of years; don’t settle for cheap knock off tools. Finding authentic pottery containers and tools outside of Japan is very difficult because most traditional makers in Japan do not have the technical and communication abilities to sell to the international market.
Serene Gardens is one such store that only carries top quality tools made in Japan by experts. They visit various traditional makers and hand pick the very best art pieces and tools and then import them directly to their store in the US. Check out their store ( http://www.serene-gardens.com ) for a variety of top quality, affordable, handcrafted goods. They have a great section on Ikebana and Bonsai tools in their shop categories if you are interested in authentic, life-lasting, reasonably priced tools and other Flower arranging supplies.
Joshua M. Smith, PhD, is a scholar on Japanese culture, a professional Shakuhachi bamboo flute player, Japanese garden designer, and owner of Grand Island Serene Gardens ( http://www.serene-gardens.com ), a Japanese themed garden center, home interior and gift store. He received his PhD from Osaka University in Cultural Sociology.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Joshua_M._Smith,_Ph.D.
COMMENTARY by Paulette Salvia
This is a very good article about Ikebana, a serene art form compared to how the Western world seems to appreciate the “more” is better theme. The author goes to great lengths to elaborate on all the details and the reader comes away with a true appreciation of Japanese culture and flower arranging.