Sunday, February 12, 2017

Carpe Diem #1152 Ikebana

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We are on a journey through Japan we have and will visit several wonderful and beautiful places in this great country, the mother of haiku, but I love to discover also some real and awesome kinds of Arts of Japan.
Today I ran into a beautiful FB-group about Ikebana, the Japanese floral art, The World Ikebana Society In this group you can find wonderful pieces of Ikebana and inspired on one of these beauties I created the following haiku (by the way you can find that beautiful artwork of Ikebana here):

the day ends
blue changes in red and purple
a Nightingale's song

After looking at the photo of this Ikebana piece on my desktop I changed it into the following:

at sunrise
the deep purple of the night disappears
in dew drops

© Chèvrefeuille

I love to tell you a little bit more about Ikebana. So let's go ...

Ikebana ("arranging flowers") is the Japanese art of flower arrangement, also known as kadō (the "way of flowers"). The tradition dates back to the 7th century when floral offerings were made at altars. Later they were placed in the tokonoma alcove of a home. Ikebana reached its first zenith in the 16th century under the influence of Buddhist teamasters and has grown over the centuries, with over 1000 different schools in Japan and abroad. The most well-known schools are Ikenobo, Ohara-ryū, and Sōgetsu-ryū.

Ikebana -Yoshiko Nakamura (© photo: Jmabel)
(photo © Jmabel)

More than simply putting flowers in a container, Ikebana is a disciplined art form in which nature and humanity are brought together. Contrary to the idea of a particolored or multicolored arrangement of blossoms, Ikebana often emphasizes other areas of the plant, such as its stems and leaves, and puts emphasis on shape, line, and form. Though Ikebana is an expression of creativity, certain rules govern its form. The artist's intention behind each arrangement is shown through a piece's color combinations, natural shapes, graceful lines, and the implied meaning of the arrangement.

The spiritual aspect of Ikebana is considered very important to its practitioners. Some practitioners feel silence is needed while making Ikebana while others feel this is not necessary. It is a time to appreciate things in nature that people often overlook because of their busy lives. One becomes more patient and tolerant of differences, not only in nature, but also in general. Ikebana can inspire one to identify with beauty in all art forms. This is also the time when one feels closeness to nature, which provides relaxation for the mind, body, and soul.

Recent historical research now indicates that the practice of tatebana ("standing flowers"), derived from a combination of belief systems including Buddhist and Shinto Yorishiro, is most likely the origin of the Japanese practice of Ikebana that we know today. During ancient times, offering flowers on the altar in honor of Buddha was part of worship. Ikebana evolved from the Buddhist practice of flower offerings combined with the Shinto Yorishiro belief of attracting kami by using evergreen materials. Together they form the basis for the original purely Japanese derivation of the practice of Ikebana.

Jiyuka (© Sorin Mazilu, as indicated on the photo)

Hundreds of schools and styles have developed throughout the centuries. The most notable and the original Ikebana school is:

Ikenobō, which goes back to the Heian period, is considered the oldest school. This school marks its beginnings from the construction of the Chōhō-ji in Kyoto, the second oldest Buddhist temple in Japan. It was built in 587 by Prince Shotoku, who had camped near a lake in what is now central Kyoto. During the night he dreamed that Nyoirin Kannon appeared to him saying, “With this amulet I have given you, I have protected many generations, but now I wish to remain in this place. You must build a six sided temple and enshrine me within this temple. Many people will come here and be healed.” So Prince Shotoku built the Chōhō-ji temple, now referred to as the Rokkakudo Temple (six sided) and enshrined Nyoirin Kannon within it. In subsequent years an official state emissary, Ono, brought the practice of placing Buddhist flowers on an altar from China, became a priest at the Chōhō-ji, and spent the rest of his days practicing flower arranging. The original priests of the temple lived by the side of a lake, for which the Japanese word is 'Ike', and the word 'Bō', meaning priest, connected by the possessive particle 'no' gives the meaning, 'priest of the lake', 'Ikenobō'. The name Ikenobō granted by the Emperor became attached to the priests there who specialized in altar arrangements. This school is the only one that does not have the ending -ryū in its name, as it is considered the original school. (Source: wikipedia)

Isn't it wonderful? All those beautiful aesthetic kinds of art in the mother land of Haiku. Haiku isn't the only art form as we will see in the upcoming days. I hope to create a few episodes in a row  about Japanese art work.

Classical Ikebana art work

For this episode I have tried to create an Ikebana tanka in which I have tried to bring the beauty and serenity of this art form together with the beauty of tanka.

New Year celebration
an Ikebana piece on the table
scaring the demons
bare willow branches
embrace cherry blossoms

© Chèvrefeuille

Unfortunately I couldn't find an Ikebana art work as described in this tanka, but I think you can imagine the sight of it.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 17th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode later on.


  1. This was beautiful and also educational! And your haiku and tanka really brought it home for me, Kristjaan.

  2. The way you wrote this post with such a flourish of sincerity and enthusiasm is inspiring. You truly elevated this art form. The first haiku examplified the silent patteen of ikebana, but ylyr second added so much. The final tanka was worthy of your nane.