What is Ikebana?

Jan 23rd 2018

Ikebana is the Japanese tradition of floral arranging that dates back to the 6th century. It is also known as Kadō- “Way of the Flowers”. Ikebana has strict rules and is a disciplined art. It is designed to mimic the lines and curves of shapes that occur in the natural world. More than just a way to arrange flowers, Ikebana embraces meditation and philosophy; there is often a spiritual aspect to the practice as well.

The philosophy is that through floral arrangement, one can improve their relationship with nature and feel closer to it in their daily lives. The goal is to create an intertwining of humanity and the natural world. Arranging the flowers can help one slow down and be in the present. The process should be quiet, reflective, and meditative.

The visual appearance of an Ikebana floral arrangement is like no other. The materials used are more than just flowers-branches, leaves, and grasses are also included. One of the distinguishing features of Ikebana is that it is asymmetrical.

In Japan, the floral displays are considered pieces of art. They are displayed in the home the way a sculpture or painting might be. This brings a feeling of nature into a dwelling. Ikebana is starting to become popular in the Western world as well.

If you would like to learn more about Ikebana there are some great resources listed below as well as places to practice Ikebana in the Portland area. There is also an upcoming class on February 3rd hosted by Jasmine Pearl on Ikebana as part of the Mindfulness Series. Taught by Ellen Hansen of Mindful Flowers, this class will be a time to reconnect with yourself through breath work and Ikebana while enjoying a cup of tea.

Ellen's background is in the commercial interior design industry where she created events for the purpose of inspiration, connection and rejuvenation. In her early 20’s she began studying Ikenobo Ikebana with a prominent teacher, Ikka Nakashima in the Chicago area. She also became a certified facilitator for embodied mediation and started Mindful Flowers as a way to integrate her two passions.

Sources: Ikebana International and NYT- "The Rise of Modern Ikebana"

Contributed by: Caroline Smith


Ikebana International & The Portland Branch of Ikebana International

The Portland Branch of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana

"The Rise of Modern Ikebana”

Mindful Flowers

An upcoming exhibition at the Portland Japanese Garden