User:Nadia El Borai/Ikebana Teaching

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Ikebana Teaching Clicking on the first reference will link you to the site directly, the second one will take you to the reference list.
French translation here[1] [1]
a German translation [2] [2] and an Arabic version [3][3]

What is Ikebana?

Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging, emerged from the traditional offerings of flowers to become an art form.

By the middle of the fifteenth century, ikebana achieved the status of art independent of its religious origins, retaining strong symbolic and philosophical overtones.

The first teachers and students were priests and members of the nobility, but as time passed many schools arose, styles changed, and ikebana came to be practiced at all levels of Japanese society.

The varying forms of ikebana share certain common features, regardless of the period of the school.

Any plant material may be used : branches, leaves, grasses, moss and fruit, as well as flowers. Withered leaves, seedpods and buds are valued as highly as flowers in full bloom. A work may be composed of only one, or many different kinds of materials, the selection of each element demands an experienced eye, and the arrangement requires technical skill in order to create a kind of beauty that cannot be found in nature.

There are many resources available, books etc.. A German site with ikebana links in English, French, Dutch and Japanese [4][4]
Another interesting site on ikebana [5][5]
Only links in English are included here.

Why a Page on Ikebana on WikiEducator?

To learn ikebana you do not have to have any previous qualification and you need not be of any particular age. You do not even need to love flowers because as you go along you will appreciate not only flowers but all plants.

My purpose is to introduce the way ikebana is taught and maybe other teachers can get inspired by it.
Tell me and I'll forget, show me and I may not remember, involve me, and I'll understand.
This Native Indian proverb on the main page of wikieducator is what prompted me to think of including this section here. Because these are the exact principles on which ikebana teaching are founded.

History of Ikebana Teaching

The oldest document on ikebana is "Kao irai no Kadensho". The famous manuscript with specific pictorial details on how to make an arrangement was written by a Japanese priest the founder of the Ikenobo School.The manuscript is “Ikenobo Senno Kuden” in which Senno Ikenobo way of arranging is recorded. The word Kuden means teaching by word of mouth, so it is a record of what Senno Ikenobo handed down.[6][6]

Description of Ikebana in English

  • The British architect Josiah Condor read a paper on the Theory of Japanese Flower Arrangements before the Asiatic Society of Japan[7] in 1889 and later published The Flowers of Japan and the Art of Floral Arrangement in 1891. He belonged to the Enshu School[8].

Virtual Ikebana

For this page I was trying to set up a virtual ikebana lesson. Luckily there is a website for children to teach Japanese culture. The section on ikebana is by the Ohara School.

Virtual Ikebana by Ohara School[9]

Distinguishing features of ikebana

  1. asymmetrical form.
  2. the use of “empty” space as an essential feature of the composition.
  3. A sense of harmony among the materials, the container and the setting is also crucial.
  4. Seasonal overtones.

These characteristics of the Japanese aesthetic feeling of ikebana are comparable with traditional paintings, gardens, architecture and design.

Although Ikebana is an art form it is surprisingly well standardised and to become a teacher or master many years of training are required.


There are many schools based on different principles and philosophies from the very traditional to the ultra modern. The form mainly asymmetric and combination of branches, flowers and other material are distinctive.

The word school is not absolutely correct. Examples of Ikebana Schools:
Saga Goryu [10], from Kyoto, one of the oldest schools can trace its roots to Emperor Saga, over 1000 years ago.
Seizan Goryu celebrated its 800 anniversary with a public exhibition in Tokyo Kasumigazeki Building 26-28 November 2009.
Yamamura Goryu, from the Enshoji Temple, in Nara, for women with close ties to the Imperial family from the time of Emperor Gomizu about 400 years ago basically arranging wild and naturally growing flowers and plants.
Ikenobo school[11] formalised teaching in the first text “Ikenobo Senno Kuden” describing ways to arrange flowers, with its headquarter in Kyoto.
Soami School[12] defined how to place objects, toko, in a tokonoma[13] a special alcove to place flowers and objects. tokonoma pictures[14]
Koryu (old school) [7][15]many types, some about 400 years old from the Edo period[16]and basically from Edo the old name for Tokyo include:
Nihon Koryu[17]Koryu Shoohkai, Koryu Shosei kai, Koryu Shoutoukai, Koryu Toyokai Suibokuka Temae, Katsura Koryu, Kezouin Koryu, Kinjo Koryu, Koryu Katabamikai, Koryu Rionkai,

Koryu Association has the following schools it is difficult to identify when said in English as they may sound the same but they can be well differentiated by the written Japanese characters. The schools are: Koryu Akebono, Koryu Koseikai, Koryu Katabamikai [18], Koryu Kayokai, Koryu Shoukai [19], Koryu Shoohkai[20], Koryu Shoseikai, Koryu Shosenkai[21], Koryu Shoutoukai,

Honnoji School, Towa Kado.
Ohara School [22] introduced moribana
Sogetsu School [23]
Enshu School[24], Enshuryu Isshin-kai, Misho School[25], Chiko, Ichiyo School[26], Ryusei-ha[27], Kozan, Shinpa Seizan, Wafu [28], Aratame, Adachi, Chikuzen, Shinsei, Hai Shiki Kyuhai Ryu, Shofu, Sangetsu[29], Senkeiryu[30], Seifu Heika
Newer schools for example Ikebana Murasaki kai started in 1965, the headmistress was 95 years old when she had her last demonstration and exhibition in Yokohama. She passed away in August 2010.
Higashi Ikenobo, derived from Ikenobo, the second Iemoto Ms. Shoen Iwata succeeded in 1984.

History of Ikebana and Nihonkoryu[31]

Ambiguity of names from translation

is a word used to describe ikebana with imperial links.
style from the Edo period (Edo=old name forTokyo)
Grand Master
is the name given to the head of an ikebana school related to a temple.
is the head of an ikebana school the Japanese word for it is Iemoto[32]
in English not an exact translation of the term a way i.e. each School has its way or philosophy of arranging, Ryū.

Teaching of Ohara School Ikebana[33]

My first lesson: My teacher was Japanese.
I could not understand Japanese Tell me and I'll forget
Stage 1. She showed me what to do initially and
show me and I may not remember
Stage 2. asked me to dismantle everything and
Stage 3. try by myself.involve me, and I'll understand.
After I finished
Stage 4. she corrected my composition.
Initially my composition was two dimensional and by observing her, I learnt that if the flowers and branches were slightly tilted a three dimensional effect can be obtained. [8][34]

Ways of Practicing Ikebana


Special event

At the Edo Museum in Tokyo. Author's blog about Special ikebana exhibit

Ikebana Events in 2009-2010

Events by Tokyo Founding Chapter of Ikebana International for 2009 can be found on their homepage
Schedule for Kamakura Chapter #51 of Ikebana International for 2009 can be found on their homepage
Other Ikebana International chapter schedule of events worldwide

Exhibitions in Japan 2010

date school/organisation venue
12-17 May Yamamura Goryu Takashimaya Dept. Store Yokohama.
15-20 April Yamamura Goryu Takashimaya Dept. Store Nihonbashi,Tokyo
10-15 March 49th Ikebana Kyokai Ueno Matsuzakaya Dept. Store Ueno,Tokyo
14-30 March 78th Ikenobo Tokyo Chapters Union Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art Ueno,Tokyo
16-21 March Kozan school 100th Anniversary Tokyo Central Bijutsukan Ginza

Exhibitions in Japan 2009/2008

date school/organisation venue
10-13 July Atsugi Kado Kyokai 50th Anniversary Hotel Loisir Atsugi Atsugi, Kanagawa
4 & 5 July Ohara School Machida Chapter 30th Anniversary Hotel Rapport Senjukaku10:00-19:00 5th 17:00 Machida,Tokyo
12 May Ikebana International Tokyo Founding Chapter Tokyo American Club Tokyo
28 April-1 May Small exhibit, this page's author for Atsugi kado kyokai Atsugi Citizen Hall (Fukushi Kaikan) Atsugi,Kanagawa
24-26 April Kakaro group Azamino Art Forum Azamino,Yokohama
1-6 April Nihon Ikebana Geijitsu Kyokai Takashimaya Department Store Nihonbashi, Tokyo
14-30 March Ikenobo Union Chapter's Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art Ueno,Tokyo
11-16 March 48th Ikebana Kyokai Ueno Matsuzakaya Dept. Store Ueno,Tokyo
14 Feb-22 Feb Orchid Festival Tokyo Dome Tokyo
28/1-2/2 Sogetsu School Yokohama Takashimaya Gallery Yokohama
8 & 9 November Ohara (this page's author) Morinosato branch town hall 10th Anniversary Morinosato, Atsugi
10 December Ikebana International Fair (Various Schools) Tokyo Prince Hotel Tokyo

Demonstrations in Japan 2009/ 2008

date school venue for
25th April Ohara School (author of this page) Azamino Art Forum, Yokohama For Kakaro group
21st April Ohara School Tokyo Women's Plaza, Omotesando, Tokyo Ikebana International Tokyo Founding chapter
Friday 14th November Various schools Women's Plaza, Omotesando, Tokyo Tokyo Founding Chapter Ikebana International


date event venue
Sunday 9 November 10:00-15:00 workshop & offering Great Buddha Temple Daibutsu Kamakura

Comparison of teaching

ikebana university on-line
preliminary knowledge not required required not required
teaching one teacher different lecturers on-line material
time frame unlimited limited unlimited
quality control exams exams exams/free
continuing education for teachers&students for students all levels

The most impressive point for me is that education for teachers is continuous. For example in the Ohara School there is a council of professors who discuss new styles and ways of teaching. There is constant "testing" to keep up the standard of teachers and students. This practice is excellent. It would be a good system to emulate in the medical field too. One can say that attending national and international meetings and seminars, would be equivalent.

Ikebana leaves Japan

In 1956 Mrs Ellen Gordon Allen, an American lady founded Ikebana International[35] to introduce ikebana to the world. The founding ikebana schools were Ohara, Sogetsu and Ikenobo, now more than 40 schools are included, with over 8000 members in 60 countries, with the motto “Friendship through Flowers”. A magazine has been published 3 times a year for the past 50 years with pictures of ikebana arrangements and articles in English on Japanese art and culture. In my opinion this is very important historically as the innovations and progress of different schools are recorded.

Ikebana International and the olympic link

  • Mrs Ellen Gordon Allen studied ikebana while in Japan, where her husband was posted just after the war. In 1956 she came back to Japan and had a meeting in Washington Heights Club. Washington Heights was the area that had the living quarter of American Military personnel and their families. Later this plot became the olympic stadium for the 1964 Olympic games in Tokyo.

After that meeting Ikebana International[36] (I.I.) was founded. Now, every five years, members from all over the world come to Japan for a world convention, the latest was in 2006 in Tokyo, I.I. Ninth World Convention [37] it also coincided with the 50th anniversary. Yearly regional conferences are also held with one just over now, May 2008 in Monterey Bay, California.[9][38] There was a regional conference in Paris, France in October 2008. [10][39]
The next world convention Ikebana International 10th World Convention[40] will be held in Tokyo in May 2011.

Ikebana Headmasters go to New York for the World Fair

  • Ikebana headmasters from three schools while in New York for the World Fair together held ikebana demonstrations for the third Regional Conference of U.S. Ikebana International Chapters hosted by New York Chapter #7 in May 13-16 of 1964. Present in the United States for the fist time together the three were Headmaster Senei Ikenobo, of the Ikenobo School, Headmaster Houn Ohara of the Ohara School and Headmaster Sofu Teshigara of the Sogetsu School.

Special qualities of ikebana


Respect for the teacher Respect for others Respect for Nature

Therapeutic qualities

By touching and looking at a single flower or branch to decide where to place it or how much to cut or trim one is completely immersed in the task and forgets everything else. It helps one relax and at the same time feel closer to nature.

Plants and Flowers

This index[41] starts with scientific names of plants, and gives the Japanese name equivalent with some illustrations and explanations . A Japanese name index[42]written in English script has explanations and illustrations. So if you have the name of a Japanese plant for example Sakura you can enter Sakura and look it up to find its English name.
IN BLOOM[43], written by Linda Inoki for the Japan Times has names of plants in Japanese and English, drawings and interesting comments, including translation of passages from Japanese literature concerning the flowers or plants described.
Flowers and plants classified by season and colour[11] [44]

A useful flower dictionary with examples of the flowers and their arrangements has been compiled in the flower dictionary[45] of the Ohara School San Diego Chapter[46] .
The United States Department of Agriculture has an on line National Agricultural Library with an international section. Trees can be identified by using some selection criteria if you go to this link here [12][47]and plants if you go to this link [13][48]National invasive species[49] information centre from the US department of Agriculture.
To identify a tree Sometimes in an ikebana lesson one has branches and to identify a tree by its leaves, fruit or name there is a tree index[50] which can help.


Use of Plant Material
When I first started ikebana, and maybe for those who see it for the first time one might wonder why waste branches and flowers in such a way. Having lived in Japan it became clear. When an empty plot is left for a few months it will be covered by plants. The climate in Japan is such that trees and plants grow very quickly and it is normal to trim them. Probably this is how ikebana started. One of the first texts describing a floral arrangement in the Japanese literature is that of cherry blossoms branches in a container in a corridor.
Example from Plum blossoms
In my neighbourhood there is a very old plum tree. When it is in bloom the farmer has to trim the tree, it is beautifully fragrant. He sells some of the branches for ikebana and the rest is just left under the tree.[14]


The Japan International Cooperation Agency [51]Library in Tokyo has books on ikebana in English and other languages French, Portuguese, and Japanese There are links to search for books in their 5 other libraries in Japan.
Books on Ikebana available at the Library of International House of Japan [52]
If you type in ikebana you can see the books available in English, German and Portuguese.
Books on ikebana can be found from the retrieval system of the Webcat National Center for Science Information Systems NACSIS[53]If you type in ikebana you can see the books available, in English, German, Portuguese, Polish, French and Japanese.

On-line reference

Japanese Architectural and Art Historical Terminology[54] compiled by Dr. Mary Neighbour Parent[55]on-line under the name JAANUS Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. Has descriptions in English of around 8000 words and how to write the word in Kanji as well. Some useful words:Ikebana[56] Douboushuu[57]

Picture Gallery

Old photos of Ikebana [15][58] [16][59]
Koryu at Bijutsu Club

Author's current event

6th December 2009 Machida for Ohara School Chapter, at Hotel Senjukaku Machida. 7th-8th November 2009 Morinosato Kominkan exhibition.
16th-25th July simple ikebana arrangements to enhance containers made from desert sand by glass artist Murayama at Akasaka Yu Gallery in Tokyo. [17][60]

Author's pictures and events

Some of my arrangements ; photos[18] [61] [19][62]
Okinawa during Pacific Science Congress[63]
10th Anniversary of Morinosato Kominkan (Town Hall)
Seminar at SOAS 5th December 2008 [64]


I started to learn ikebana without any knowledge of Japanese. A Japanese friend came with me to help with translating. The translation was mainly related to other matters. To learn ikebana language is not necessary.

Interesting blogs in English

On Kozan school
On Aratame school
Hanamai the ikebana blog of Stephen Cooler, Ohara School

Nordic Lotus

Blogs on ikebana

Ikebana blog in Spanish
From near Oslo Ikebana-Balkan

My blog on ikebana

Blog cyclamen

Facebook pages

Ikebana friends

You tube on ikebana

Pictures of ikebana [20]

Lesson upright style Ohara school by Stephen Cooler [21]

URL References used in this article

  14. User:Nadia_El_Borai/Seasonal_pictures_of_Japan#Tokonoma
  18. Koryu Katabamikai

Demonstration video clip

Guest demonstrator of Ikebana in English at Kakaro exhibition, Art Forum Azamino,Yokohama.

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Nadia El Borai 2008


Thank you Kathy Kegang Zhu for pointing out typographical mistakes and for keeping me on my toes for exact information.



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