About Ikebana

The art of Japanese flower arrangement goes back to the time of the Samurai in 15th Century Japan.  Understanding the laws of nature, beauty and the value of life, as seen in Ikebana, calligraphy, the tea ceremony and poetry, occupied an important place in training for the Samurai and Shogun class.  With the introduction of Western influence in 1888 floral design became a standard curriculum for young women in the Western styled public education. 

 

As with many arts, there is room for free expressions within the guidelines. In Ikebana, there are 3 major styles that demonstrate the depth and fragility of the art; Rikka, Seika, Moribana.

 

Rikka

 

The “first Ikebana style”, Rikka, strives to transcend the natural world.  Designs are paradoxically designed to have a man-made look.  Of the Ikebana styles, Rikka style is the most formal style with 9 distinct variations.

 

Seika

 

In the Seika style, living materials of branches, grasses, and flowers are arranged to create two and three dimensional art with lines, planes and mass in a given space. Active empty space is as important as natural plant materials.

 

Moribana

 

“A mass of flowers”, Moribana, was strongly influenced with the introduction of Western Civilization to Japan.  There are few rules other than the requirement of one natural material living or dried.  It is often referred to as Free-Style and can be avant-garde in design.. Some abstract Moribana designs contain no flowers.

Flowers and their meanings

 

In Japanese culture, each flower in nature has a meaning.  A sakura blossom (cherry blossom) symbolizes Man in that the blossom is brief but glorious and then it falls to the ground before it has withered. Here is a summary of many flowers used in Ikebana and their accompanying meanings.

Attachment, mortal love—Morning glory

Avarice-Lupine

Bashfulness—Marvel-of-Peru

Beauty, love—Rose

Blessing—Adonis (pheasant’s eye)

Charity, benevolence, kindness—Tulip

Conceit—Hydrangea

Congeniality—Peach

Courage, hardiness, loveliness—Plum

Dangerous love—Tuberose

Destiny, fortune—Castor-oil plant

Devotion—Hosta

Elegant spirit—Iris ensata (Japanese Iris)

Eternal Youth—Rhodea

Fairness, impartiality—Chestnut

First love, friendship—Lilac

Forever, eternally—Canna

Fragile beauty—Hibiscus

Friendship, marriage—Ivy

Friendship—Acacia, Pansy

Good Fortune—Iris laevigata (rabbit-ear iris)

Grace—Weeping willow

Grandeur, magnificence—Daphne

Gratitude—Dahlia

Happiness and long life, endurance—Pine

Happiness returning—Lily of the Valley

Health—Marigold

Hope–Primrose

Improving fortunes—Aspidistra

Independence, dignity—Thistle

Innocence—Daisy, Freesia

Joy of youth, pleasure—Crocus

Joy—Poinsettia, Caladium

Love unrequited—Begonia

Love, sincere, true—Magnolia lilliflora

Love—Dianthus

Lovely heart—Salvia

Lovers—Pomegranate blossoms

Music—Reed

Neatness—Maple

Nobility—Cherry, Clivia, Enkianthus

Noble simplicity—Chrysanthemum

Noble spirit—Kerria vine

Passion—Carnations

Patience—Bletilla                                                

Patience—Ornamental onion flowers

Peace, simplicity—Hollyhock

Prayer—Blueberry

Pride, attractiveness—Amaryllis

Pride—Camelia

Prosperity—Oak

Pure heart—Baby’s breath (Gypsophila)

Pure love—Lotus

Purity of heart—Water lily

Purity—Gardenia, Lily

Recovery from illness—Cattail, Kudzu Vine, Pussy Willow

Respect—Sunflower

Rest—Poppy

Reverence—China aster

Secret—Gladiolus

Self-love—Narcissus

Sincerity, truth—Anemone

Sorrow—Miscanthus

Steadfastness, abundance—Bamboo

Temperance, moderation—Azalea

Temptation—Eucalyptus, Lycoris

Tender Memory-Sweet Pea

Thoughtfulness—Patrinia, Bush Clover

Tidiness—Broom

True love—Forget-Me-Not

Truth—Bittersweet

Undying love—Globe Amaranth (bachelor’s buttons)

Unity—Job’s-tears

Unrequited love—Daffodil

Vanity, vainglory, ostentation—Silk tree

Victory, honor—Laurel

Waiting for success—Hawthorn

Welcome—Wisteria

Wishes granted—Loosestrife

Japanese Flowers and Plants of the Four Seasons 

 

 

Japanese Flower and Plant Calendar

 

Spring

  • Peony, Nightingale

Summer

  • Lotus

Autumn

  • Chrysanthemum, Grasses

Winter

  • Plum

January

  • Bamboo

  • Narcissus

  • Pine

  • Plum

February

  • Plum

  • Camelia

  • Adonis

  • Crocus

March

  • Peach

  • Pussywillow

  • Forsythia

  • Anemone

April

  • Cherry

  • Apricot

  • Magnolia

  • Primrose

  •  

May

  • Azalea

  • Peony

  • Wisteria

  • Iris

June

  • Iris

  • Peony

  • Lily

  • Hollyhock

July

  • Hydrangea

  • Lotus

  • Lily

  • Spirea

August

  • Morning Glory

  • Sunflower

  • Rhododen-Drone

  • Water Lily

September

  • Gourd

  • Seven Grasses of Autumn (Bush clover, Chinese bellflower, dianthus superbus, patrinia, kudzu vine, miscanthus, throughwort)

  • Aconite (monkshood)

  • Gentian

October

  • Maple

  • Dalia

  • Cosmos

  • Canna

November

  • Chrysanthemum

  • Cockscomb

  • Daisy

  • Bittersweet

December

  • Mandina Domestica (sacred bamboo)

  • Holly

  • Rhodea Japonica

  • Poinsettia

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