Ikebana (literally "living flowers") is the Japanese art of arranging flowers. It is also called 'Kado' - The Way of flowers.

© ikenobo

Unlike the art of flower arrangement in the Western world, where especially the quality of the flowers comes first, the Japanese art of flower arranging is aimed at creating a beautiful composition. Ikebana is all about attention to the lines in the piece, rhythm and colour. Ikebana brings the inside of the home into contact with the outside, nature. Therefore, an Ikebana flower arrangement uses more than one kind of flowers. By using several parts of the plant or several plants, the Ikebana flower arrangement is a symbol for the whole of nature.

© ikenobo

In Ikebana, the vase, the stem, leaves and branches, but also the flowers, are all part of the entire composition. Also, mosses, buds, dead leaves or fruit can be added to the composition. Depending on the season, other materials are used. The Japanese attach more importance to the form, than to the colours of the materials. Westerners are for example generally more oriented to the colour of flowers .

The origin of Ikebana lies in the ritual flower offerings to the spirits of the dead in Buddhist temples. These offerings date back to the 6th century, when Buddhism was introduced in Japan. Buddhism originated in India, and reached Japan via China.

© ikenobo

In Japan people started to use vases to hold the flowers in the 10th century. They took care that in the offered flower arrangements both the flowers and branches were pointing to the sky, as a sign of faith. The first people who practiced Ikebana were therefore priests. The name Ikenobo refers to buildings in the Ikenobo Rokkakudo temple in Kyoto, and is also the name of the successive generations of High Priests in the temple.

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