Himalayan News Service


Though ikebana is understood as the Japanese art of flower arrangement, it can include freshly cut branches, vines, leaves, grasses, berries, flowers (dried or wilted) and more. In contemporary ikebana, any natural substance even glass and plastic can be used.

“Ikebana is an art is which branches, trees and blossoms are arranged so that nature and human beings can live harmoniously,” stated Zenji Kaminaga, ambassador of Japan at a lecture and demonstration programme organised by the Japan Foundation on March 9 at Hotel Soaltee Crowne Plaza. “The first teachers were priests and members of nobility. Now, there are over 3,000 Ikebana schools with over 15 million students in Japan.”

Chitralekha Yadav, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, graced the occasion as chief guest. “This art has a deep connection with philosophy,” said she quoting John Keats, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

Hiroshi Nakamura, master instructor of Sogetsu School, was the demonstrator at the event. “Just as artistic expressions brushed onto canvas, ikebana is a three-dimensional artistic expression composed of flowers and plants,” he said.

According to ikebana, many techniques are used to preserve the freshness and beauty of plants. These could be through crushing, boiling or burning the base of the stems and applying various chemicals. To restore vitality to wilted flowers and leaves, they are cut under water and the stems left submerged for at least 30 minutes.

The most contemporary ikebana are of two kinds: ‘moribana’ and ‘nageire’. While ‘moribana’ is arranged in a shallow container with a needlepoint holder, ‘nageire’ is composed in a tall vase with a variety of methods used to keep the materials in place. Deftly snipping stems and arranging flowers, Nakamura demonstrated many beautiful arrangements of flowers that ranged from the traditional ikebana styles to the contemporary ones that were more experimental. One special piece was an arrangement of the citrus flowers and rhododendrons dedicated to the peace and prosperity of Nepal.