Ikebana: Japanese flower arranging [Archives:2006/980/Culture]

September 11 2006

Hamdan Dammag
The way the Japanese arrange flowers is not only different, but it receives significant attention – more than one might think.

Last week, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, the Japanese Embassy organized a showa at the Culture House in Sana'a to demonstrate the art of Ikebana (literally, flowers kept alive), the Japanese art of flower arranging.

There are many schools, of which the most popular are Ikenobo, Sogetsu and Ohara, as well as different styles, depending on the school and the type of plants and vase used.

Many Culture House attendees were impressed by the demonstrations and the attention paid to arranging flowers. Engineer Salim Ali expressed his admiration of the Japanese art: “We in Yemen must take care of similar arts, but above all, we must care for flowers at home and in public spaces.” He expressed his happiness that he “had a chance to learn more about Japanese culture.”

Ikebana began in the sixth century as a type of ritual flower offering at Japan's Buddhist temples. In these arrangements, both the flowers and branches were made to point toward heaven as an indication of faith.

Along with the Japanese tea ceremony and calligraphy, Ikebana was one of the arts Japanese women traditionally were schooled in to prepare for marriage. Today, venerated as one of Japan's traditional arts, Ikebana is done on numerous occasions, such as for ceremonies and parties, and modern Japanese still are choosing to study the art.