Ikenobo Ikebana History

The Soul of Ikebana

The history of Ikenobo is the history of ikebana. Ikebana began with Ikenobo and although over 550 years many other schools have branched off from Ikenobo, Ikenobo is said to be the origin of ikebana. Ikenobo’s history encompasses both the traditional and the modern, the two continually interacting to encourage new development in today’s ikebana.

People in every era have loved flowers, but our predecessors in ikebana felt that flowers were not only beautiful but that they could reflect the passing of time and the feelings in their own hearts. When we sense plant’s unspoken words and silent movements we intensify our impressions through form, a form which becomes ikebana.

We arrange plants cut and removed from nature so that they are filled with new beauty when placed in a new environment. Rather than simply re-create the shape a plant had in nature, we create with branches, leaves, and flowers a new form which holds our impression of a plant’s beauty as well as the mark of our own spirit. Ikebana should also suggest the forces of nature with which plants live in harmony – branches bent by winter winds … a leaf half-eaten by insects.

Ikenobo considers not only an open flower but also a flower’s bud beautiful, for within the bud is the energy of life’s opening toward the future. Past, present, future … in each moment plants, and humans, respond to an ever-changing environment. Together with plants, humans are vital parts of nature and our arranging ikebana expresses this awareness.

Like a poem or painting made with flowers, Ikenobo’s ikebana expresses both the beauty of flowers and the beauty of longing in our own hearts. Ikenobo’s spirit has spread not only in Japan but throughout the world. It is our deepest hope that the beauty of Ikenobo will increasingly serve as a way of drawing the world’s people together.

A Brief Historical Outline: please visit the Ikenobo Website for more detail

  • 1462 Senkei Ikenobo, a priest at the Rokkakudo temple in Kyoto, was invited by a warrior to arrange flowers, and these flowers were highly praised by the people of Kyoto. The flowers arranged by Senkei Ikenobo went beyond traditional styles of Buddhist floral offering, and the development of ikebana, unique to Japanese culture, took place at this time. The earliest ikebana teaching manuscripts date from this period.
  • Ikenobo: ike (pond) + obo (hut) The priest who lived in the hut by the pond.
  • First established school of ikebana. Current headmaster, Sen’ei Ikenobo, a direct descendent is the 45th generation headmaster. His daughter Senko Ikenobo, headmaster designate, and first woman.
  • Over the years both the styles and the philosophy evolved.
  • Competitions in wealthy homes.
  • Tokonoma (alcove): arrangement to be viewed from front.
  • Rikka (landscape)
  • Shoka: smaller, simplified, still symbolic
  • Modern era: Jiyuka, free style, (after WWII), Shoka shimputai (1977), Rikka Shimputai (1999)
  • Ikenobo America est. 1968, San Francisco
  • Now thousands of different schools, Ikenobo is still oldest and largest. (2 million+ members around the world).
  • In 2012 Ikenobo celebrated 550 years