Ikebana International is a world-wide organization dedicated to friendship between nations through the Japanese art of flower arrangement. “Friendship through flowers..” is a harmonious bridge between flowerflingers of any country.
Ikebana arrangements are never judged. Created purely for the enjoyment of their audience, Japanese flower arrangement is a disciplined art form with a reverence for nature. There are 5 Schools of Ikebana: Ikenobo, the oldest and most traditional; Ichiyo, modern styles often without a kenzan (pin holder); Koryo introduced in the 18C plus Sogetsu and Ohara.
This Ohara School design is set in a shallow circular tray, resting on a four-legged stand on a 4’ platform. The placement of the design on the platform is an integral part of the whole composition. The great size of the plant material is achieved by using the large monstera leaves as they are still attached to their original stem. Ikebana International describes Ohara School as “focusing on seasonal use of branch and flower material….expressing the natural environment with an emphasis on landscape arrangement”.
A pair of Ohara School designs are placed at angles to the viewer. Full of ready-to-burst magnolia branches and large white lilies, they launch themselves across the space on charming bamboo mats that look rather like rafts.
Emerging quince blossoms are barely open on the dramatic vertical branch of another Ohara school design. Dramatic red ti leaves, black painted grapevine, and white lilies contribute to the drama of this design that also includes long pheasant feathers. The seemingly-arbitrary, but in reality well-considered, placement branches are what I love best about ikebana.
Over the course of the 4 years I lived in Tokyo, I tried (and failed) with two different schools of ikebana. But I never lost my interest in this fascinating art form. The idea of a pink design and an orange one is a good example of what confused me about some Ikebana designs. My uneducated Western eyes look for the visual link between them beyond the obvious white branches that physically connect them.
Medinilla magnifica, the bright pink drooping flower, is a chic potted plant seen at many fine florists these days. This is the first time have seen it used as a cut flower. The medinilla is balanced by the slender line of a flowering quince branch in another Ohara School design.
Bamboo goes to great heights in this design in a terracotta container. Balanced by the horizontal monstera leaves and pink orchids, this design is a good example of the extended proportions loved by ikebana, whose mastery always which make us pause in admiration.
Sogetsu is a School with more “freestyle and abstract designs, more sculptural in their character”. This vigorous design, in almost Armani like greys and taupe, features handsome black birds-of-paradise, with their iridescent finish, placed in an almost crowded manner, playing off the open, sinuous coiling vines. This accomplished design is my favorite arrangement of the group. Ikebana is open to anyone, and chapters are in most large cites. Why not check them out soon?