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生花 / Ikebana
Ikebana (生花, literally “arranged flowers”) is the Japanese art of arranging flowers. It is considered an
entire art form in which humans and nature are brought together through the arrangement of the
flowers. Also unlike Western flower arrangements is the emphasis placed on parts of the plant besides
the blooms, such as the stem and leaves. e container in which the flowers are presented is also
important in ikebana. Various kinds of pottery are used for holding ikebana arrangements.
Ikebana has its origins at Rokkakudō Temple (六角堂), located in Kyōto (京
都). One priest there was considered to be so skilled in arranging the flowers
placed on the altar that all the other priests frequently turned to him for
advice when they arranged flowers. is priest lived by the side of a lake,
called Ikenobō (池坊), from which the first ikebana school takes its name.
Even though ikebana is a creative expression, there are certain rules which
must be followed. e most important of these is that every element of the
design must be organic– plastic or silk flowers, for instance, are a violation of
this rule. Another general rule states that ikebana arrangements should be
minimal in design– the large, extravagant arrangements one can find in
American florists would be considered far too loud and garish in Japan. It
was once said that ikebana “has a main speaker and the rest [of the flowers]
are audiences, whereas [in] flower arrangements all flowers are speaking and
shining at the same time.”
Typically, an ikebana arrangement is delineated by a scalene triangle (one Ikebana using daffodils
with three sides of different lengths). e sides of the triangle symbolize
heaven, earth, and man in some schools, or sun, moon, and earth in others. Asymmetrical figures and
empty space are also appreciated in an ikebana arrangement.
e spiritual aspects of ikebana are important to the art. While practicing ikebana, complete silence is
maintained. e artist takes time to appreciate the beautiful things in nature that are often overlooked
in everyday life. Harmony and closeness to nature is important to ikebana. e flowers, container, and
other materials used in an ikebana arrangement must be harmonious with each other and be balanced.
e simultaneous balance and asymmetry in ikebana is integral to the art, and is part of its appeal.
ere are also different styles of ikebana arrangement. One of the simplest styles is nageire
(投入れ), roughly meaning “thrown-in flowers”. In this style, there are usually three basic stems, with
one or two more stems for depth and additional beauty. ere are several variations on nageire,
including a cascading one where beautiful curves and lines are balanced with the other flowers when
one or two flowers hang over the edge of the container. Another style is rikka (立花), which means
“standing flowers”. It is a seven-piece arrangement with each piece representing a different part of
nature. ere is also moribana (盛り花), roughly “built-up flowers”, which is considered the most basic
style. In it, the flowers are arranged in a shallow vase or basket.
e many different styles of ikebana, combined with the beauty of flowers and relaxing feeling
provided by closeness to nature, make ikebana a highly appealing activity. Many Japanese practice
ikebana today, and many more enjoy viewing and appreciating ikebana arrangements. Ikebana is also
taught in schools and even shown on TV, reflecting the importance of nature in Japanese culture.

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