History of Ikebana

What are the origins of ikebana? The general belief is that ikebana originated from the practice of offering flowers to the Buddha. Another belief is that in ancient times putting up evergreen trees and arranging flowers to call up the spirit gods formed the base of Ikebana.

The Tatebana of the Muromachi Period represents one of the first clear expressions of Ikebana (from the end of 14th century to later part of the 16th century). It was in this time period that ikebana became separate from religion and the emphasis came to be put on the act of arranging rather than on the mere appreciation of the beauty of the materials. Chabana, which developed in the same period, was closely related to the tea ceremony.

From the Azuchi Momoyama Period (1560-1600) through the beginning of the Edo Period (1603-1867), Ikebana became widely popular among the urban merchant class.

Since the beginning of Ikebana, men were the primary practitioners of the art. The Meiji government (1868-1912) put in place a significant change when ikebana was accepted as part of the curriculum for girls’ education. Ikebana was regarded as a female social grace before marriage until the 1960s.

Japan has several hundred schools of ikebana with overseas branches and international students. The schools represent a range of aesthetic, expressive, and conceptual styles encompassing the more traditional ikebana to the modern contemporary curriculums like those of Sogetsu ikebana.