Most florists will tell you that creating spring flower arrangements is a work of art. After all, it takes imagination, creativity and plenty of talent to put together a successful flower display. This is especially true for ikebana flower arrangements, which are a form of living art in Japan.

What is ikebana?
According to JapaneseLifestyle.com, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, ikebana, aims “to create a harmony of linear construction, rhythm and color.” Western cultures tend to focus more on the quality and color of the designer flowers in their arrangements, emphasizing the beauty of the blossoms. Japanese culture focuses primarily on the linear aspects of an arrangement, even going so far as to include the vase, stems, leaves and branches in the design. “The entire structure of a Japanese flower arrangement is based on three main points that symbolize heaven, earth and humankind,” reports the news source.

What are its origins?
Ikebana has been practiced for more than 600 years, according to Ikebana International, and came to fruition from the Buddhist practice of offering flowers to the spirits of the dead. According to JapaneseLifestyle.com, these arrangements were set up so that the branches and flowers pointed toward heaven, symbolizing faith. The first teachers and students who practiced ikebana were generally priests and nobility, but these days everyone is able to participate.

How are ikebana arrangements formed?
Much like the art of bonsai, ikebana flower arrangements can take on different styles. Holy Mountain Trading Company asserts that there are three basic types: upright, slanting and cascading. Each style can take on one of two forms: “moribana” and “nageire.” Moribana literally means “piled-up flowers,” which are arranged in shallow containers. Nageire means “tossed-in flowers,” which are arrangements placed in tall, narrow containers.

What kinds of materials are used?
In Japanese culture, various seasonal occasions are celebrated with special ikebana arrangements, reports Ikebana International. Five of these festivals, called “gosekku,” have traditional flowers involved. For example, “Shogatsu,” New Year’s Day on January 1, uses pine tree elements, while “Tanabata,” the star festival on July 7, uses bamboo. Other occasions call for materials like narcissus, peach, quince, bamboo grass and oranges. According to the news source, seasonality is the primary consideration when choosing containers and elements for arrangements.

There are numerous schools of ikebana, which means there’s a wealth of information out there for those who are interested in learning more about how to create ikebana arrangements. If you want to make meaningful arrangements of your own, consider looking into lessons in your area.