Ikebana has been one of Japan’s traditional art forms since the late 14th century. Originating with floral offerings to ancestors, it became become part of the Buddhist ritual. In medieval Japan, it grew into a popular art form and is widely enjoyed today. While highly trained experts practice ikebana, casual enthusiasts also enjoy this art. It’s a popular hobby and creative outlet for everyone. 

There are varying forms of ikebana, but they share common features regardless of the period or school. Among them are minimalism, asymmetry, a focus on shape and line, and a respect for nature’s seasons and impermanence. In addition to flowers, arrangements consist of all plant materials, including branches, leaves, mosses, fruits, and vegetables. Withered leaves, seedpods and buds are valued as highly as flowers in full bloom. 

Ikebana’s asymmetrical form and the use of“empty” space between materials are essential features of composition. A sense of harmony among the materials, container and the setting is also important. These characteristics embody the aesthetic feeling ikebana shares with traditional Japanese paintings, gardens, architecture and design.