Ikebana: The Art of Japanese Flower Arranging in Spring

May 22, 2024


What is Ikebana?

Ikebana is not your ordinary artistic enterprise. It is the Japanese art of arranging flowers, leaves and branches to create a new craft and bring beauty and balance to its form, function, direction, and size. At times, arrangements are placed in a vase, though this is not always the case. At the end of the day, one must carefully arrange a flower to create an elaborate and balanced statement.

60b7572e2937329fc01b3802 Living In Design Ikebana Japanese Floral Art Asian Design 14

In this article, discover the different styles of Ikebana from its origins to becoming a living art and philosophy of Japan. Whether you’re new to Ikebana, or simply looking for inspiration, you’ll enjoy this amazing selection of arrangements and gain insightful learning experiences.

Where does Ikebana come from?

Ikebana has come a long way from its humble beginnings of temple offerings to becoming a world-class example of Japanese culture and art. It is believed to be traced back to the 6th to 7th century when Buddhism was first introduced in Japan. Flowers were arranged elaborately and placed before the images of the Buddha as part of their ceremonial practices in the Shinto religion.

Screen Shot 2024 04 30 at 5 27 11 PM

In the 8th century, it became prevalent to express admiration and sentiment through a flowering branch with poetry attached to the plant. In the 14th century, feudal lords had the popular culture of displaying their wealth through building tokonoma in their rooms to display paintings, art objects, and floral arrangements.

The first record of ikebana was called Sendensho, recorded in the 15th century, along with other Japanese cultural arts. It comprised a set of instructions on how to create flower arrangements according to season and occasion.

Img history 04

Ikenobo schools, whose name refers to a long line of priests, follow the Buddhist tradition of presenting flowers in the temple. Ikenobo Senkei gained recognition as the first master of ikebana with his magnificent floral compositions. His popularity led to the creation of a secular and rigid style of floral arrangement called Rikka or standing flowers. It is made of seven to nine elements such as tree branches, and flowers, placed in a Chinese vase with tall elements and bursting shapes. These compositions were intended originally for temples but soon became common in palaces and homes of the elite.

Screen Shot 2024 04 30 at 5 15 25 PM

When Zen Buddhism and the idea of Wabi-Sabi flourished, another style was introduced that opposed the Rikka style. Sen no Rikyū introduced an organic and minimalist approach with single-stem arrangements in a simple vase, called Nageire. Its floral compositions do not stand upright; instead, it was placed in tall vases supported by the stems of the flowers.

Varied plants in a jar in a nageirebana design

In the 18th century, Ikebana became a popular leisure activity, branching out into different schools.

Modern schools of ikebana were built when Western customers were introduced. In 1912, Ohara School was established, introducing the Moribana style: Western flowers and shallow and circular containers for flowers to stand upright. Moreover, freestyle was also recognized for creating creative and original floral compositions.

Screen Shot 2024 04 30 at 5 15 46 PM

In 1927, the Sogetsu school was founded and created another version of elevating ikebana to a level of sculpture with the use of other live materials like rocks, dirt, and moss. At present, the Ikenobo, Ohara, and Sogetsu are the most popular styles in various schools.

Screen Shot 2024 04 30 at 5 31 52 PM

In the decades since Ikebana has been popular across the world as a representation of uniting people from around the world. Ellen Gordon Allen, an American who studied ikebana, established a nonprofit organization called Ikebana International to create valuable relationships through floral compositions. Moreover, as schools have grown on a global scale, this living art has inspired various contemporary artists to develop new creations and relationships between materials and the community.

What can we learn from the art of Ikebana?

The philosophy behind Ikebana is grounded in understanding elegance, curiosity, and respect for nature. It is more than simply arranging flowers to create an art or visual effect. It showcases a harmonious relationship between nature and the space surrounding it.


Mastering the art of Ikebana requires patience, discipline, and creativity combined. With this, one can express a sense of balance and beauty of impermanence through floral composition. Today, kado, or way of flowers is another term for ikebana that captures the art of never-ending exploration and learning. This spring, let us capture this spirit of pursuing a lifelong path of learning.

Newly Listed

View all

Sign up to the Uchi Mailing List

Get notified of new listings and receive all the latest real estate news from Japan to your inbox.