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Japan of Flowers: Ikebana Philosophy

Updated on February 10, 2016
Japanese ikebana
Japanese ikebana

Way of flowers: pursuit of beauty

In their pursuit of beauty, the Japanese would overcome any obstacles. Thus, the art of ikebana is preserved and passed over from one generation to another. The "way of flowers", kado, as they also call this art, has been paved for centuries. Bouquets of flowers are always significant for the Japanese. There is symbolism in them. Pine and rose symbolize eternal youth and long life, pine with peony signify youth and prosperity, pine with bamboo - prosperity and peace, chrysanthemum as well as orchid stand for joy.

If somebody pays a visit and would like to admire a bouquet, they should get down on their knees at a one meter distance from it and, slightly bending, contemplate the bouquet from the bottom to the top. When the visitor goes to see the bouquet, the hosts stay seated facing him (or her). They bow and say humbly: "We regret if our craft-work appears too mediocre." The visitor pronounces words of admiration.

In spring, they celebrate two "flower" holidays everywhere in Japan: the Girls' Day on the 3rd of March and the Boys' Day on the 5th of May. For the girls, they place ikebana with pink and yellow flowers. They take branches of a blooming peach (the symbol of tenderness) and a mandarin tree. For the boys, they place ikebana with an iris flower - symbolizing courage, and their leaves resemble swords.

Ikebana with a pine branch
Ikebana with a pine branch
Ikebana for girls with yellow flowers
Ikebana for girls with yellow flowers

The special approach

If you think that ikebana is simply some flower arrangement in a vase, you are wrong. The art of ikebana has been formed according to certain canons. At the same time, this art merges together nature and humanity. In ikebana, special attention is paid to the form as well as to the length, to the stems and leaves, to the lines and silhouette. Being an expression of creativity, ikebana is composed according to certain rules. The artist's message is revealed by the combination of flowers, nature forms, grace of the lines and, especially, by the presence of the inner idea of the composition. Ikebana reflects the connexion between the sky, the man and the earth. The irregular triangle created by three branches of different length is the best expression of the essence of life, according to the Japanese.

Two ikebana
Two ikebana

What to bear in mind when creating your ikebana

As you make an ikebana, stay silent. Silence helps to appreciate the beauty of nature that we so often ignore because of the hasty rhythm of life. When we try to approach the nature this way, when we attempt to feel its beauty, we become more tolerant and patient towards all kinds of differences. The making of ikebana helps feel closer to the nature and, as a result, gives rest to the body, mind and soul. The art of ikebana helps to see beauty in all kinds of art.

Ikebana teaches us to restrict ourselves. Ikebana is the wisdom that comes with time. At first you want to add as many colors, forms and elements as possible. But the art of ikebana is that of removing the excess. You cut a branch or a leaf because they are too big. You would like to have a lot of things - ikebana teaches you to be happy with few things.

Remember that the main principle of ikebana is the beauty of one flower. Ikebana is never finished. Why? Because we aspire perfection, but we can never attain it. So, your ikebana must reflect this mood. It must be dynamic, incomplete, inclined. The slant of the branches should show this.

Another principle is the assymetry. The idea of three elements of life is present in any ikebana. The sky - the longest branch - must be the most solid one. It is around this branch that the whole composition is centered. The second branch is the man, always inclined. The third branch is the shortest. It symbolizes the earth and can be inclined in direction opposite to the other two branches.

The role of the container is very important. This can be a ceramic vase of any form, which pattern is meaningful. This can be a glass container, a tray, or a basket. It is necessary to bear in mind the inetrior of the living place, the season and the surroundings.


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    • avorodisa profile image

      Anna Sidorova 4 years ago from Russia

      Thanks, lies5858))

    • liesl5858 profile image

      Linda Bryen 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      What a beautiful hub Avorodisa. I love Japanese flowers and the way they arrange them with meanings and importance. Voted up. Love the beautiful photos too.

    • avorodisa profile image

      Anna Sidorova 5 years ago from Russia

      Maralexa, thank you for appreciation. I am happy to give you some inspiration. You are right to call ikebana peaceful. This is what it is, the pursuit of perfection, ideal which is peace in the whole world.

    • Maralexa profile image

      Marilyn Alexander 5 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

      I believe the art of Ikebana is one of the most exhilarating yet peaceful means of expressing oneself. For me it is similar to Chinese brush painting. If the beautiful examples of Ikebana are yours, thank you very much for sharing. I truly love the fifth example, it is inspiring!

      Voted up, awesome and beautiful. You have a new fan, avordisa.

    • avorodisa profile image

      Anna Sidorova 5 years ago from Russia

      Cashmere, spy, I appreciate your appreciation and wish you a lot of creative inspirations:) Thank you for reading!

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Wow this is very beautiful. All my votes!!

    • Olde Cashmere profile image

      Olde Cashmere 5 years ago from Michigan, United States

      I loved this hub and find the idea of this compelling. Thank you avorodisa for sharing. Voted up, shared, awesome, beautiful, useful, and interesting. I'm going to have to try this.