Brief Overview of Ikebana
Distinctive Japanese Art of Flower Arrangement
Ikebana or Kado is the Japanese art to arrange, display and appreciate flowers and plants. The term Ikebana means “giving life to flowers” and the term Kado means “The way of Flower”. It originated in Japan, and is now spreading around the world. A different types of flowers are arranged in a style differs among various schools. For example, while many schools set the rule that the object is viewed from the front, other schools try to represent a three-dimensional space in two dimensions. This mode of representation parallels in other Japanese art.
Difference from Western Floral Decorations
In Western floral decoration, flowers are arranged to create a unified form when viewed from any of three dimensions. On the other hand, Ikebana and Kado of Japan is distinctively different from the concept of flower arrangement in the Western countries, in that not only colorful flowers, but also all plants such as leaves and moss, as well as beautiful expressions of foliage and tree trunks, are collectively called 'hana' (flower) and are appreciated.
Appreciation of Nature by Japanese produced Ikebana
The remarkably high development of Ikebana floral art in Japan can be attributed to the Japanese love of nature. People in all countries appreciate natural beauty, but in Japan, the appreciation amounts almost to a religion. The Japanese have always felt a strong bond of intimacy with their natural surroundings, and even in contemporary concrete-and-asphalt urban complexes, they display a remarkably strong desire to have a bit of nature near them. Foreign visitors to Tokyo are often surprised to notice that their taxi driver has hung a little vase with a flower or two at the edge of the windshield.
Documentary of Ikebana Art (27:13)
History of Ikebana (Kado)
Ikebana originated from the development of Buddhism
A widely-accepted theory is that Ikebana originated from floral offerings being presented at a Buddhist alter, together with the introduction and development of Buddhism. The custom of admiring cut flowers placed in a vase like a bud vase, extends back to the Heian period, and traces can be found in literature such as "Makura no soshi" (the Pillow Book). Existing containers were used at first, and special vases for Ikebana were created later.
Kado was established by Buddhist Monks
Kado was established during the mid Muromachi period by monks of Choho-ji Temple in Kyoto. Since these monks resided on the banks of ponds for generations, they were called 'Ikenobo' (literally "monks of ponds"), which later became the name of the school. The style called Tachibana (literally, standing flowers) was perfected during the mid Edo period by Iemoto (head family of a school), Soke (originator), and the like.
Ikebana became widespread to the common people
Later during the mid and late Edo period, the art, which had until then been enjoyed solely by the upper class or the samurai class, became popular among the common people as Shoka (also known as Seika (a more free style compared to Tachibana)). Many masters in techniques appeared especially from schools such as Misho School group, Koryu (Traditional school) group, and Enshu Group, and this led to further separation into many other schools.
Ikebana was introduced to the Western world
From the end of the Edo period until the early Meiji period, Kado and Ikebana was introduced to the West as a result of the worldwide Japanese culture boom (Japonism), and this had an influence on European floral decoration as a technique of vertical arrangement. In Japan, the flower shape eventually developed with the trends of the times; various styles such as Nageire-bana (literally "throwing in flowers") and Mori-bana (literally "inserting flowers") were created. After the Edo period, Ikenobo branched into many other schools. Now, the 392 schools are registered in Japan Ikebana Association.