Learning Ikenobo’s Ikebana

Last week Christina and I went to Kyoto for a day to learn and practice Ikebana, Japanese floral arrangement. The practice of Ikebana began when Buddhism was introduced to Japan. Flowers of the season were arranged and placed near the alter of Buddha, which later evolved to having floral arrangements placed on a tokonoma, a small platform in the corner of a house room for guests to enjoy. Ikenobo, the high priest of Rokkakudo Temple in Kyoto, was the first person to establish a school of Ikebana.

We learned of three styles of Ikebana: Rikka, Shōka, and Free Form. The oldest style, Rikka, is very complex in design. It uses both woody and herbaceous plant material for the arrangement.

A Rikka styled arrangement.

A Rikka styled arrangement.

To create the complex curving of the pine, the branches were cut and wired. Our sensei created this arrangement in two hours, but for a beginner it can take more than a day.

To create the complex curving of the pine, the branches were cut and wired. Our sensei created this arrangement in two hours, but for a beginner it can take more than a day.

The arrangement is held by bundled rice stems that have been cut.

The arrangement is held by bundled rice stems that have been cut.

Because of Rikka arrangements are complex and time consuming. Shoka, a more simple arrangement was created. Shoka  designs emphasize clear lines and space.

The shoka arrangement.

The Shōka arrangement.

The Shoka arrangement is held in by a "V" shaped twig. This allows pieces of the arrangement to be facing diffeerent directions but having all pieces appear to meet at one single point at the base when looking head on.

The  shōka arrangement is held in by a “V” shaped twig. This allows pieces of the arrangement to be facing different directions but having all pieces appear to meet at one single point at the base when looking head on

We arranged our own free form. Free form does not follow a strict set of guidelines.

We also had to learn how to properly use the Ikebana shears. You hold it loosely so the shears can open, then when you want to cut, you clasp the handles firmly.

We also had to learn how to properly use Ikebana shears. You hold it loosely so the shears can open, then when you want to cut, you clasp the handles firmly.

Ikebana is typically arranged while sitting or kneeling. But we both broke the rules that day and chose to stand.

Ikebana is typically arranged while sitting or kneeling on the floor. But we both broke the rules that day and chose to stand.

We were both given the same plant materials for our arrangements: Yellow Roses, Baby's Breath, Red Gomphrena, Bittersweet, Striped bullrush, and a Hosta Leaf.

We were both given the same plant materials for our arrangements: Yellow Roses, Baby’s Breath, Red Gomphrena, Bittersweet, Striped bullrush, and a Hosta Leaf.

IMG_9616

My completed arrangement. My design was of a cyclone.

Christina's design was of a sun rise.

Christina’s final design was of a sun rise.

2 comments

  1. Charlene

    How beautiful, to both of you. Elegant and simply done yet making a statement in your design. I know I keep saying this but I do enjoy all of your pictures and learning about other cultures.

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