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What is Ikebana?

Ikebana, the ancient Japanese art of flower arranging, has been practiced for more than 600 years. It has evolved during this long period from what were originally Buddhist offerings that were placed on the alter of temples over 2000 years ago into a developed art form free of its religious origins that are displayed in the home. Practitioners use flowers, branches, and leaves to create living pieces of art that show the unique beauty and character of each stem. It is practiced and enjoyed by people all over the world.

Ikebana is different from Western floral arrangements in its use of “empty/Ma/space” and asymmetrical forms. The design of the arrangement also uses as few stems as possible – less is more – showcasing the elegant line of the material or the beauty of the flower.


Ikebana means “Bring Life to Flowers.” Through the art of Ikebana, flowers are given new life as arranged in a container. The main three lines in Ikebana are symbolized as the harmony and balance between heaven, man, and earth. A miniature representation of the Universe is created in the container, and designed to bring harmony between the flowers, the container, and the space around them.

The practice of Ikebana can also be a meditative process by taking the time to carefully look at each stem, finding the best line or angle to highlight the beauty of the stem, and finally being conscious of the space in which the composition will be placed. The time spent in communication with the materials provides a respite from today’s stressful and busy lives. It also brings a bit of nature indoors helping to calm the soul and adding beauty to the spaces in which we live, work, and play.

  - Stephen Coler, Ohara School of Ikebana

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