Ikebana (ee-kay-bah-nah) is the art of Japanese flower arranging. A free translation of “ikebana” might be “living flowers” or better “making flowers come alive”. When flowers are beautifully arranged in a container, the arrangement evokes the whole of nature itself, and people’s relationship with nature.
In Japan the custom of arranging flowers originated with ancient Buddhist religious traditions. Later on the nobility, the samurai, and the literati took up ikebana and over time different schools of ikebana grew up, each with its own distinctive style.
The enjoyment of ikebana spread to the population at large and it was common to find flower arrangements as an important part of the interior design of traditional Japanese houses. Ikebana was enjoyed and practiced by both men and women. Classes in ikebana were given to students in secondary schools.
In the modern era new styles of ikebana grew up using flowers indigenous to regions outside of Japan and arranged in abstract forms influenced by modern art. Today there are over 3000 schools of flower arranging in Japan.
It is the custom to learn ikebana from a teacher who instructs the learner in the techniques of cutting and placing the flowers in a container, often inserting them into a base. There is no judging in exhibitions of ikebana, each person is free to enjoy the beauty and sentiment of all the arrangements.