The Art of Ikebana

A single stem never dies – goes the message from the Japanese floral philosophy of Ikebana. 

This isn’t a new concept. Far from it. In fact, Japanese Shinto priests – Japan’s indigenous religion – offered evergreen branches to the spirits for centuries to try to capture natural beauty. Then when buddhism came along in the sixth Century, Buddhist monks evolved these Shinto offerings into beautiful arrangements: the art of ikebana was born.

Hirozumi Sumiyoshi, Rikka, ca. 1700. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Ikebana (“living flowers”) is the Japanese art of flower arrangement, also known as Kadō (“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. In contrast to the western habits of casually placing flowers in a vase, ikebana aims to bring out the inner qualities of flowers and other live materials within certain rules of construction and ultimately – express emotion.

“Happiness is to hold flowers in both hands.” – Japanese proverb

Ikebana is a way of arranging flowers according to ancient principles.

Branches and flowers are placed at specific angles to represent ten (heaven), chi (earth), and jin (man). The way they’re placed represents the strength, delicacy, and ephemerality of living flowers. Funnily enough, the word ikebana comes from ‘ikuru’ – to live and ‘hana’ – flowers: literally ‘living flowers’.

It’s an art that restores our sense of inner harmony. A sort of lovely mix of therapy and meditation. Anyone can ikebana. It’s about trusting your intuition and creating something according to how you feel right at that moment. There’s no right or wrong. It’s your self expression!

It's the act of looking at a flower, admiring its shape, form, and colour. Then deciding to put it just so in a vase.

“The whole universe is contained in a single flower.”

Toshiro Kawase, Japan’s leading modern Ikebana Master

The Ikebana Principles

Where western-style arrangements go for flowers in a vase on mass to make an impact, ikebana goes for structure, space, and minimalism.

Less is more.

It’s common to see tall branches balanced precariously in ikebana. That’s because it uses a 30/70 balance ratio, rather than the normal 50/50.

Asymmetrical balances

The art of creating an arrangement leads to self awareness (and happiness!).

It’s much more than just decoration.

Japanese Yin and Yang is about opposites completing one another.

In and Yo.

Ikebana aims to capture the fleeting beauty of things. A lot of ikebana arrangements feature a bud to represent the promise of hope.


Not just emptiness, but an important part of the design as a whole.


We hope Ikebana will bring you much joy and make you inspired to appreciate and cherish all the beauty around you.  Because there is so much of it!