Ikebana, The Japanese Floral Art You'll Love

These Japanese flower arrangements are original and beautiful-looking. In this article, we'll give you a series of tips for you to make them yourself.
Ikebana, The Japanese Floral Art You'll Love

Last update: 28 January, 2021

Like any other discipline, ikebana or Japanese floral art follows defined rules, which are based on direct observation of nature. Its materials are mainly live branches, leaves, herbs, and flowers.

The word ikebana, when translated into English means ‘living flowers’. This art form is more than just creating floral arrangements. The arrangement of flowers and plants symbolize the cosmic harmony of Zen philosophy.

The most important thing in Japanese floral art is the linear tracing of the elements involved, based on angles. In this way, form and space are used to achieve harmony and perfect balance, giving a feeling of calmness.

The layout of ikebana or Japanese floral art

An ikebana arrangement.

The structure of a Japanese flower arrangement is formed by a subject line. The highest branch of the entire composition determines the size of the rest of the elements. You could say this is the main line. Secondly, there’s another that’s smaller in size, which serves to enhance the value of the first line. Next, you have the object (flowers or leaves that act as a focal point and unify the whole arrangement). Lastly, you have the accessories, whose quantity will vary depending on the chosen design.


A simple Japanese floral arrangement.

To make a Japanese flower arrangement, you must choose a container. Its size and shape (flat tray, small bowl, oval container, among others) will depend on the floral design that you want to carry out.

Ikebana flower styles

There are different styles you could follow when making this type of flower arrangement. We’re going to talk about them so you can choose the one that suits you best.

The simple hana style

A simple 'hana' arrangement.

This is the simplest ikebana style because it only uses an object and subject line. It can be composed vertically or inclined, it’s up to you. The main feature is that the stems sprout from the same point. To create this, we recommend you to use flat containers.

You can introduce a small variant in both vertical and inclined designs. This consists of moving the kenzan or spike support to the left or right and, in turn, designing the entire composition at one end of the container.

By shifting the arrangement to one side, the visual effect will have a more modern and contemporary visual effect. For the compositions, we recommend you use the following flowers: gladioli, lilies, delphiniums, calla lilies, marigolds.

The nageire style

A nagerie style flower arrangement.

This is a much freer composition, but it still maintains the balance of its elements. In this design, all lines are used (the main, the secondary, the object, and the accessories) Using long wide-mouthed vases will make the floral composition look very elegant. It’s important to take the following three styles into account.

  • The vertical style. The elements grow straight and their stems must reach the bottom of the vase. The height of the subject line must exceed the length of the vase from its edge.
  • The inclined style. This design is meant to show all the beauty of the slanted subject line, which gives the feeling that it’s still growing.
  • The waterfall style. In this design, the subject line falls out of the vase elegantly. You can use pine branches and weeping willow. We advise you to place the vase on a high base.

The moribana style

A Japanese flower arrangement in the 'moribana' style.

In English, this means stacked or stacked flowers. This arrangement style uses highly colorful species placed in flat and low, usually round, containers that allow the different elements involved to expand in all directions.

This style arranges the subject, secondary, and object lines in the form of a scalene triangle. In turn, each component is inserted at a different angle. If you want, you can incorporate other complementary elements. Two styles stand out:

  • The vertical style. In this design, the vertical subject and secondary lines must grow upward. The first must be the length of the container plus its depth, while the second must be two thirds the length of the subject.
  • The inclined style. In this case, the subject line is an inclined branch with natural curves and it goes beyond the edge of the container. You can use apple or camellia branches. The sideways shift effect is offset by the object located in the center, just in front of the secondary line. Something a lot of people do is use water into the composition. If you like this idea, don’t hesitate to try it yourself!

Keeping the flowers alive

An ikebana arrangement with a branch coming out to the side.

To keep the plants looking fresh for a long time, you can use the Japanese technique known as mizugiri.

This consists of cutting the stems underwater. The reason for this is that it prevents the formation of air pockets that block the subsequent absorption of the liquid. It’s advisable to cut the stem obliquely so that it has more surface to absorb the water.

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