ikebana and life in japan

a blog about ikebana and life in japan


Sakura, Japanese Cherry Blossoms

It's that time of year again -- time for cherry blossoms.

At least for use in ikebana, that is. There is still some snow on the ground here, and the nights still get below freezing. Not the ideal conditions for cherry blossoms.

But in ikebana, materials intended for the coming season are used in arrangements. By doing this, one can feel the coming spring at the end of winter, building our expectations for the joy of the season to come. Sakura are a very delicate flower that only show their beauty for a few weeks each year. The blooming of cherry trees is something that every Japanese looks forward to each year, with the national and local news forcasting the blooming of the trees throughout Japan, and many people celebrating the season by having a picnic under the trees so they can enjoy the pink, white colors and the distinctive sakura smell. It is definitely one of my favorite times of year.

It had been seven weeks since my last ikebana lesson. I had missed having some flowers in my apartment. It really does make a difference when you have some flowers in your living space. I place my arrangements near the door, so I am greeted by flowers when I come home and greeted by them when I leave. Having something beautiful to look at when I come home is very relaxing and helps me to unwind after a long day. Needless to say, I was very happy to get back to my ikebana lessons!

My teacher had chosen sakura. She had several branches to choose from, some large and some small. I chose a large branch that had some character to it and began to look for the best way to show that off. I cut it into four pieces and had the main material for my arrangement. There were also some beautiful yellow Oriental lillys to use. It would be just the right burst of color to match the light pink of the sakura and the deep blue of the vase I was using.

cherry tree and Oriental lilly

Not only did I want to show off the cherry blossoms, I also wanted to show the unique character of the tall branch. So, I cut it back some, creating some space (as talked about here), and inserted it into the right hand side of the vase, showing the angled curve of the branch. Next, I inserted a branch with lots of blossoms low and to the front of the vase. The unbalance of the the tall branch with a few flowers and the short branch with many flowers brings a balance to the arrangement. I added another branch that bends down infront of the vase and another branch to the rear of the arrangement to balance out the front to back space and weight of the cherry tree branches. To finish it off, I added one stem of lilly. The lilly actually had three more blossoms on it, but I cut those off, because it would have felt too heavy with all of them on the stem. And with this one stem, I got three different variations of the flower in bloom -- one almost fully open, one just opening, and one still in bud form. With variations like this, it makes it fell more natural, and the viewer can enjoy watching the other blooms open up and change the arrangement. And also notice how the face of the lillys are pointing up and towards the tall branch, which is the main branch of the arrangement. These lillys feel happy and energetic pointing up towards the tall branch. For my first arrangement in a long time, I was very happy!

view from the side. this has only 5 stems total and takes up all of this space!

I am looking forward to the cherry blossom season. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and let us enjoy them this year. Last year, the trees had just begun to bloom and we had about a weeks worth of rain causing most of the blossoms to fall from the trees. Now that I think about it, it has been like that the past two or three years. The beauty of the flowers only lasts a couple of weeks, if the weather cooperates, making sakura a special, treasured flower here in Japan. Hope I can enjoy them this year.

Until then, I will just enjoy the blossoms that I have in my apartment.

 What's not to love about these delicate flowers? Beautiful!