ikebana and life in japan

a blog about ikebana and life in japan


Fall Ikebana Exhibition 2013, Part 2

On Sunday, November 10, and Monday, November 11, I took part in the annual prefectural fall ikebana exhibition. The weekend before, I and two of my students took part in the city-wide exhibition (click here to see that post), so I have had a busy couple of weeks. But they have been great busy!

About a month ago while at the flower shop getting flowers for one of my lessons, I noticed some very nice, large dried leaves. I asked if they were special order for someone, but the staff said that they were actually left over from an exhibition held in October. That meant I could use them if I wanted to, but I had to think about it. Because they were so big, I would need a large container, and I didn't have any. So, my search for a container began.

I looked around at different second hand shops and even an antique type store, but I couldn't find anything. I asked my teacher if she had any large vases, and just my luck, she did! With that vase, I could use the leaves. Yeah! The next time I was at the shop, I saw that the leaves were still there and immediately bought them. Now, I just had to figure out what to put with them.

I thought I would like to another Bunjin styled arrangement, but it would be difficult to find materials to go with the leaves. One day at my lesson, I noticed that my teacher had a beautiful, old piece of lichen covered persimmon laying out in the corner of her yard. She had been through her garden cleaning things up, getting ready for the winter season, and she had put the old branch (one she had used about 10 years ago) in the pile to be thrown away. I asked if I could use it, and she said yes. I had another material for my arrangement. (When searching for materials, I look everywhere to try and find the perfect materials to use -- while driving, while walking, in the school yard, around the school, around my neighborhood, everywhere!)

I thought that some pine would also go nice with the arrangement, so a friend and I went for a little drive up in the mountains to search for some pine. We finally managed to find some, and after climbing up the tree to get to it to cut it off, I had some pine. Now I needed something to go in the front of the arrangement to give it a focal point.

I went to several different flower shops in several different cities looking for some unusual flowers, but I had no luck. I thought I could also use a potted plant, so I went to several different garden centers and found some huge ornamental cabbage plants that would be perfect. Everything was coming together.

Last, I thought it would be nice to give it a little color, so I decided to add some green chrysanthemums to the arrangement. They would give the arrangement a nice pop of color and help to fill out the space of the work. They would also help to give the arrangement a bit of a fall feel to it.

After a couple of weeks of planning, I finally had my arrangement completed.

Dried Sterlizia augusta, pine, lichen covered persimmon, 
ornamental cabbage, chrysanthemum "Anastasia"

It may be hard to tell from the picture just how large this arrangement is, but the ornamental cabbage in the front is about a foot wide! The large leaf probably stood up about three and a half feet out of the container. This is the largest ikebana arrangement I have created, and I think it turned out very well (if I do say so myself!).

Here's a picture of it from the left side so you can also see how far back it stretches.

It was a dynamic arrangement, and I think I captured the feeling of fall and the coming of the cold winter ahead. This was something that I don't normally do, and people noticed that. I saw these leaves and knew that I had to use them somehow. Since they are dried, I can use them again. Yeah! I thought they would look nice if they were gold-leafed. I could use them in a Christmas or New Year's arrangement, but that won't be this year.

Click here to see the arrangement I did for the spring exhibition.

As always, please feel free to leave a comment below or share the post. Also feel free to +1 the post.

Happy Fall!


Fall Ikebana Exhibition 2013, Part 1

This past weekend, I and two of my students participated in the city-wide culture festival that is held every year. People display not only ikebana but also bonsai, Japanese calligraphy, photos, paintings, art, sculpture, and the list goes on. I think that this was my 11th year to participate in the festival -- wow!

This year, one of my more advanced students participated in the festival. She wanted to do a One-Row arrangement using dark colored calla lilies. I asked the flower shop to try and order some lilies, and they ended up having to get them shipped in from Tokyo! This was her second time to do an arrangement for the culture festival, but it was her first time to do a large arrangement like the one she did. She made a beautiful arrangement and should be very proud of herself!

One-Row Form
Calla lily, carnation, spray carnation, solidago, Homalomena

The other student who participated in the festival for the first time has been doing ikebana for a while, but is still in the beginning stage. She wanted to use some type of branch in the Inclining Form. We went to the flower shop together and found some beautiful "Sekka" willow which would be perfect the type of arrangement she wanted to do. She did a wonderful job and should also be proud of herself!

Inclining Form
Fasciated willow "Sekka", ping-pong chrysanthemum

As for me, I wanted to do something more with a Japanese fell to it, something a little larger in a vase. I wanted to try to do a Bunjin arrangement, a type of ikebana based on a Japanese interpretation of the Chinese bunjin, or literati. Emphasis is placed on the elegance and poetic nature or rare blooms, shrubs, and plants. It is not bound by any specific floral style, and materials may be freely arranged to express the unique beauty of each stem, flower, or leaf. 

A friend lent me a beautiful vase that would be perfect for this type of arrangement, so I was ready to go, but I couldn't decide what materials I wanted to use. I thought I would like to use pine and some type of tropical flower along with something bold to place in the front of the arrangement to give it balance. My teacher had a beautiful hydrangea blossom that had partially dried on the bush (it was at least 10 inches across!), and another student had a beautiful branch of aged pine that she let me use. I went to the flower shop and got my tropical materials, and voila! I had my arrangement. All of the materials are arranged as if they are the star of the show, but there is a balance between all of the materials.

Bunjin Arrangement
Dried hydrangea, pine, heliconia

The festival was held for three days and many people came to enjoy all of the different works displayed. I had a great time, and my students did, too! One of them is already looking forward to next year's festival!

This coming weekend, I have another exhibition to prepare for, this one the prefectural fall ikebana exhibit. I have some great materials I found a couple of weeks ago and can't wait to create it and share it with all of you. Look for part 2 soon!

As always, fell free to comment below. Let me know what you think of the arrangements or tell me about your favorite fall flowers. Also feel free to share or +1 it!


Online Ikebana Course Student's Work The Journey Begins

Several students have begun to take the online course that I started with my new website, stephencoler.com. I am so excited for these wonderful students to begin and continue their ikebana journey. I would like to share a couple of pictures with all of you and show you the beautiful art they created.

The first picture is from a student who had studied ikebana in the past, although it had been a while since she had practiced her art. She made a beautiful arrangement with materials that she got from her own garden -- how wonderful is that!

Yucca and hydrangea, Rising Form

Is that not a beautiful arrangement? I love the pink color of the hydrangeas and the green of the yucca leaves. The open space she created with the low yucca leaf extending out to the right gives the arrangement a sense of movement and elegance. And the container she used for the arrangement also looks very nice. I think she did a wonderful job!

The next picture is from a beginner. She has just started her ikebana journey and is very excited to learn about ikebana. She had to work with her local florist to find the materials, no using materials from her own garden. At least not for now!

Red New Zealand Flax and Rose, Rising Form

This was the first picture that she sent me. For her first time doing an ikebana arrangement, I thought she did an exceptional job! I gave her a little advice about the placement of the roses and the short leaf of New Zealand flax. She revised her arrangement and sent me another picture.

Absolutely beautiful! Her placement of the roses is very elegant, and she has created a nice balance in the arrangement. I hope that she is proud of herself, because I certainly am!

I am so happy for both of these students. They have created a beautiful ikebana arrangement that is sure to bring pleasure to anyone who sees it. It has brought joy to me!

Please feel free to leave comments below.

And if your interested in learning more about ikebana or starting your own journey, please visit my website, stephencoler.com, or click on the link at the top of the page.


Fall Ikebana in a Vase

Fall is in the air here -- my favorite time of the year. I always look forward to the fall foliage and the color explosion that goes on everywhere you look. Iwate has some of the most beautiful fall foliage that I have ever experienced.

This week, I did an arrangement to help bring the fall feeling indoors. I used some Rosa multiflora (Japanese rose hip) and some yellow chrysanthemums. It is a very simple arrangement and invokes a cool fall breeze on a beautiful fall day. I hope you enjoy the arrangement!

Heika with Rosa multiflora and chrysanthemum

As always, feel free to leave a comment below and share this post with others!


Let your ikebana journey begin with Online Ikebana Lessons

I've been quiet for a while not posting anything because. . .

I've been working on developing a new website!

(You may have noticed the blog has changed a bit, too, to make everything more cohesive.)

I am so excited about the new site, stephencoler.com!!

I love ikebana and want everyone to have access to lessons and be able to enjoy the beauty of the arrangements. Most people are not fortunate enough to live where they are able to take lessons with a certified teacher -- maybe you live out in a rural area, or the city you live in just doesn't have any teachers. Maybe you have been reading books and looking at pictures on the internet, but you just aren't getting enough. 

So, to help you out on your ikebana journey, I have created a series of monthly online ikebana lessons. The lessons give you step-by-step instructions and guide you through the process of making an authentic arrangement. I tell the "why" of what I present in the lesson, helping you to better understand the ancient art form. 

Here is a sample video of the first lesson in the series.


As you know from reading my blog, I love ikebana! It is one of the main reasons I have been in Japan for 15 years. It has become part of my daily life, and I want others to experience the joy and peace I get from practicing ikebana. My journey has been going for 13 years and still there is more to learn and more to understand from this cultural art form truly unique to Japan. It has been a beautiful journey, and I look forward to the unknown path ahead that this new adventure will bring!.

I am so excited to share the new website with you. Here's the header from the site. Notice how it looks the same as the blog header?

Click on the picture below and it will take you to the new site, stephencoler.com. 

Let your ikebana journey begin!


If you have a facebook account, you can also follow my new ikebana page there!

If you look on the right hand side of the blog, you will see a facebook scroll. Please click the "like" button so you can get updates on my ikebana journey and also the ikebana journey of my students. 

Thanks! And as always, feel free to leave a comment below!


Lightning Ikebana

How admirable
to see lightning and not think
life is fleeting.

Matsuo Basho

curly willow and sunflower

Can you see the lightning in the arrangement, too?
Feel free to leave a comment below!


Father's Day Ikebana

I thought since I made my mom an arrangement for Mother's Day, I would make my dad one, too.

When I was young, my dad was a tractor mechanic. He was amazing with any type of machinery and could fix anything. He loved cars, different kinds of tools, even got into a bit of carpentry. He could do anything in my eyes. And me, I couldn't do anything! He taught me how to change the oil on my car, but it was a painful process for the both of us; and more than once, a few choice words were said by my dad. If there was anything wrong with any of the family's cars, he would always fix it himself. All you had to do was describe the problem, and he would know what to do to repair it. Because of him, my sisters and I always had a working car to drive when we were young.

We lived out in the country on 120 acres of wooded land. There was a small field near the house that used to have cows graze on it, but there weren't any when I was growing up. Every summer, he would get on the tractor and mow the field. It always smelled amazing! We lived on a dirt lane that was about a mile from from the main road. He would also mow along the lane creating a beautiful path through the woods.

He never drank coffee (and still doesn't), but always drank Mountain Dew. Whenever he would go out, he always had a cap on his head. I also remember him having a toothpick in his mouth most of the time, even while watching TV. He was a true country boy. And he still is.

So, what kind of flowers to give a country boy?

Simple, country flowers.

Hosta leaves grow all over the place here, and they sell them all summer long at the flower shops. A simple, yet beautiful leaf with lots of character, just like my dad. I thought that sunflowers would go well with the hosta leaves -- a touch of sunshine reminding me of the summers with the sweet smell of fresh cut hay. Simple materials for a simple arrangement that evokes the feeling of country to me.

hosta leaves and sunflowers

One main leaf stretches out over the water in the container, casting it's reflection on the surface of the water. Another leaf was placed low and in the front to bring a focal point to the work. Two sunflowers were used, but because they were both so large, I used them rather short in the arrangement, using them as a filler material rather than a main material. One of the sunflowers is almost hidden below the front hosta leaf, just peeking out, creating some depth in the arrangement. And then the last hosta leaf was placed in the rear of the arrangement with the back of the leaf showing, giving full play to the beautiful line of the leaf.

I also sprayed a little water on the hosta leaves. The water pools up into little beads giving a cooling effect to the viewer.

A simple, country arrangement for a simple, country guy.

I wish I could be there in person to give this to him, but an ocean separates us.

Happy Father's Day to a wonderful man that can still do anything in my eyes.

Love you.


Nageire -- Flowers "thrown in" a Vase

An arrangement in a vase is called nageire, literally "thrown in".

In the Ohara School of Ikebana, there are many techniques used to place the materials in a vase. Because there is no kenzan to support the stems, the way the stems are cut, how they are bound with vertical or horizontal stays, and the way they cross over each other to lend support is very important. To be proficient in these techniques takes many years of study.

When I first began to do arrangements in vases, some 13 years ago, I didn't like it. You could even go so far as to say I hated/dreaded it! Why? Because it was so difficult to make the materials stay in the place you wanted in the vase. I would go to my lesson, excited to do an arrangement; and then, my teacher would say we were going to do nageire. I would immediately want to go home and forget my lesson for the day. But, as I did more arrangements in vases, I learned the techniques and methods used to support the materials in the containers. Gradually, I began to like doing nageire. Now, I love it. It is one of my favorite types of arrangements to do.

In this summer arrangement, I used only two materials -- cherry plum and calla lily. There are five branches of the cherry plum, and only one calla lily. So, in the whole arrangement, there are only six stems. From the front, you see a tall rising line that has a nice curve, supported by smaller branches of the cherry plum. A single calla lily rises from the branches and helps to bring a focal point to the space created by the curving branch.

When looked at from the side, you can see how far it reaches out in front of the vase. This helps to pull the viewer into the arrangement, but it is not noticeable unless you look at it from the side. One of the magic points of ikebana.

I hope you enjoy the video of how the arrangement was made.  

As always, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below!


Spring Ikebana Exhibit -- scouring rush in a cool summer breeze

Recently, I have been very interested in zokei ikebana. Being able to create a totally unique and creative work is exciting to me. Trying to find new materials to work with, show a material in a new way, or creating an expressive work are what I most enjoy when creating a zokei arrangement.

This year, for the spring exhibit, I wanted to use just one material, to really showcase the beauty of it. I chose scouring rush. They are often found near the waters edge of a lake, stream, or river, but can also be found in moist, dense forests. They can grow to be quite tall, and when a cool summer breeze hits them, they bend playfully in the wind.

I went to the local hardware store/DIY center to look for something I could use as a base for the piece. I chose a plastic fencing material in a black color. I thought the black would go well with the green of the scouring rush, but it could also be painted if I wanted to change the color or finish (I was thinking a metal finish would also be interesting). The mesh of the fence was also the perfect size for each frond of the rush to fit into. I used some black zip ties to hold the fencing together and made a tall column. I had my base for the piece.

I played with the fronds for several hours, trying different ways of arranging them in the mesh. Some were very planned out, and others were more organic. "Playing" with the materials is an important step in creating a zokei work; it enables you to find the best way to show off the natural beauty of the material in a new and interesting manner. I finally chose on a combination of planned and organic. I arranged the fronds along one line of the fencing, extending out to the right, but the angles and length of the scouring rush were arranged in an organic way, making them look as if they were being blown in the wind.

scouring rush

slightly from the left

looking into the fronds, from the right

Can you feel the cool summer breeze?

Let me know what you think of the piece in the comment section below!


Mother's Day Flowers

It has been over 15 years since I have had the pleasure to wish my mom a "Happy Mother's Day" in person.

I always call to wish her well on Mother's Day, but it just isn't the same -- being able to give her a big hug and see her smile. I know she feels the same way. I usually get on the Internet and try to find something interesting to send her. This year, I couldn't find anything that I thought she would like. I got a card in the mail to her, but I didn't send a gift.

Instead, I thought I would make an arrangement for her. Ideally, I would love to make it for her in person, but being across the ocean on the other side of the earth makes that a bit difficult!

I chose her favorite color, yellow, as the base of the arrangement, and mixed in a little orange and red -- all happy, vibrant, strong colors, just like my mom. I also added a couple of white anthurium thinking they would like nice in the mix of colors. Of course, I also had to mix in some green to give it a fresh feeling.

I know that she will love it, and immediately download the picture to use as her screen saver. She can enjoy the arrangement for weeks to come, which is just what I wanted!

It was such a beautiful day that I decided to take a few pictures outside.

Happy Mother's Day to an amazing woman who inspires everyone around her with her strength and love for family and friends! You inspire me to be a better person, and I am thankful and proud to be your son.


Spring Landscape Arrangement

Spring has finally started to show herself here where I live in Japan. It has been a long, cold winter, and I am ready for the beautiful spring colors that abound everywhere here -- plum and cherry trees, tulips and daffodils, the greening grass, mother nature bringing forth all of her glory!

To help usher in spring, a couple of weeks ago, I created a spring landscape using Japanese cornel. It was arranged in the Traditional Method in the Landscape Arrangement form -- meaning a prescribed way to arrange the materials to express the beauty of a natural scene.

To create the natural scene, I have, in a way, created a sketch of the scene in the limited space of the suiban.

Japanese cornel grows to be a towering tree, so the rules prescribed say I have to do the arrangement in the Far-View Depiction. For this method, I arrange the Japanese cornel in the one-tree method, making it look as if all of the branches are a large tree seen off in the distance.

To help balance the scale depiction, small budding azalea branches are used low in the front of the container, and a few taller branches next to the base of the Japanese cornel. They should appear small in contrast to the towering tree.

Finally, a material is used to establish the undergrowth of the scene. In a far-view depiction, club moss is used. The moss is arranged in small clumps and covers about 3/4 of the surface of the suiban. It is still the beginning of spring, so only a small amount of water is showcased in the container.

When all of the above elements are combined, a little piece of nature is captured in the confined space of the suiban. The budding tree and budding azalea help to usher in spring and all of her beauty.

Japanese cornel, azalea, club moss
Far View, Upright Style

The club moss covers about 3/4 of the surface of the container, and the azalea are used low and small
to help create the look of a grand tree. I also took off some of the buds of azalea because there were
too many for this early in the spring.

When viewed from the side, you can see the "tree trunk" in the center of the Japanese cornel branches.

A natural scene captured in the confined space of the suiban.

As always, please feel free to leave comments or questions in the comment section.


Radial Form Ikebana Explained

Recently, in one of my classes, I have been teaching some of my students how to create a Radial Form ikebana arrangement.

The Radial Form is part of Advanced Hana-isho. It is a kind of ikebana that brings out the unique characteristics of the materials in a highly decorative work. They are created for the spaces where people live and work. Some of the forms can be viewed from the front only, and others can be created to be viewed from all sides.

The forms of Advanced Hana-isho have some special characteristics:
1. They can be created to decorate any kind of space, and the container used can be anything, including articles used in daily life, like cups, bowls, or plates.
2. The beauty of color is central to creating Hana-isho; however, combinations of materials that express the beauty of the season or their formal, sculptural beauty are also possible.
3. The length of the main stems and auxiliary stems, their angles, and the positions at which they are inserted are free.
4. There are three main stems, the Subject, the Secondary, and the Object.
5. The Radial Form can be arranged either in a shallow container or in a tall vase.

With all that said, I know it may sound complicated, but it is easy if you follow the guidelines and look at the materials carefully!

Radial Form (front view only)
Anthurium, prairie gentian, Dracaena godseffiana "gold dust"

In the Radial Form, the materials spread out from a central axis along the midway line of the container. I like to think of it as the spokes of a bicycle wheel.

From the central axis, all of the spokes of the wheel radiate out, creating lines of symmetry.

Here, anthurium is used as the Subject and the Secondary of the arrangement. Prairie gentian is used as the Object. And the "gold dust" is used as the green of the arrangement, which helps to meld all of the materials together.

When viewed from above, the lines of symmetry can be seen. The Subject can be on the left or right side, depending on the characteristics of the materials. Here, the Subject is on the right and the Secondary is on the left.

Here is the view from above with the lines of symmetry outlined. The Subject is the longest stem in the arrangement. The length is free, but it should have balance with the container. It is placed on the midway line of the container and extends out, giving full play the horizontal beauty of the anthurium. The Secondary is placed on the opposite side -- here on the left -- also along the midway line of the container. The length of the Secondary can be from 1/2 to the same length of the Subject. My personal taste is to make it a little shorter than the Subject, but that's just me! Next, the object, which can be from 1/3 to 1/2 the length of the subject, is placed at the center of the axis of symmetry (the green dot in the middle), with a variation also extending forward on the axis of symmetry. These are the three principal stems of the arrangement.

The Subject side should be the stronger side, so I have used two additional stems of anthurium. They are variations of the Subject and should be arranged within 30 degrees on either side of the Subject. The Secondary side uses one additional anthurium. It can be placed on either side of the Secondary, but must also be within 30 degrees of the Secondary stem. Here, I have placed it in the front.

Additional stems of prairie gentian are arranged with interesting variations to give the Object group a bit more weight to balance out the arrangement. The "gold dust" is also placed on either side of the Object group, helping to connect all three principal stems and make a cohesive arrangement. Some of the "gold dust" is low in the arrangement, and some is high in the arrangement. One side is also short, with the other side a little longer. This unbalance helps to balance out the arrangement -- the magic of ikebana!

You may be thinking, "What is going on with this picture?" There is meaning in the madness!

Here you can see the pink line goes through the middle of the arrangement -- the axis of symmetry. The tall Object leans slightly to the left of the line, creating some movement within the Object group. However, the Object that extends to the front must be on the axis of symmetry. This helps to unify the work with a central starting point for all other branches.

As you can see, all of the Subject and Secondary materials are placed at varying heights within the arrangement -- no two branches are at the same height (the red dots and red lines). The length of the branches are also all different. This makes the arrangement more interesting and creates points of interest throughout the linear form of the arrangement.

With this arrangement, I have focused on the use of color, but seasonal materials could also be used. An arrangement like this can be placed anywhere within your home or work space. Because of it's linear shape, it is perfect for a low table against a wall or on the mantel of a fireplace. Creating a Radial Form that is multisided would lend itself to be perfect for a table centerpiece. It is a highly decorative form that brings out the beauty of radial symmetry and is perfect for today's modern homes.

Please feel free to leave a comment or a question about the From in the comment section below!


Video Slide Show of Solo Exhibit Arrangements

This has been a cold, snowy winter here in Hanamaki. There has been snow on the ground since before New Year's. And I love it!

I love the cold weather and the ground covered in a blanket of white. It makes everything so serene and peaceful. I hope that there are still a few more good days of heavy snow before spring comes.

Until then, to tide you over, I made a small video of the arrangements I did for my first solo exhibit. You can read more about that in a previous post here.

Feel free to leave a comment and tell me what your favorite arrangement was.

I think mine is the the landscape arrangement that looks like a forest. Or it might be the Rinpa arrangement. It's too hard to choose just one!


Ikebana -- Living Flowers, Living Art, an exhibit

While home for Christmas and my winter break, I did something that I still can't quite believe I did.

I had my first solo ikebana exhibit!

I was home longer than usual this year because I had a nice break from work -- the kids I teach were on winter break. I had casually mentioned to my mom while talking on the phone with her one day that it would be nice to have an exhibit while I was home. I want to emphasize -- casually mentioned.

Well, I began to think about it more, she began to think about it more, checking on locations and starting to contact people. I had also casually mentioned it to my ikebana teacher before I left for home, but still wasn't sure if I could pull it off. I had bought a few containers to take home with me, just in case.

The day I arrived back in Arkansas, I went to the library. My mom had contaced different places around town, and the library had a room that I could use. The room was HUGE! But, I had found a place and decided that I would do it. I think I had a mini panic-attack in my mind when I finally decided to do it!

I contacted several local flower shops in the area, and Shirley's Flowers, Inc. were extremely helpful in trying to find all of the materials that I wanted to use. I had a long list of flowers and branches and wanted them in about a week. It was a hard order to fill, but she was able to find almost all of the materials that I wanted to use. I am so grateful to her for all of the extra work she put in to help me out.

I bought a few more containers, gathered some that my mom had in her house, and began to look around for some other materials that I could use. I live in the country, so while out driving one day, I spotted some branches that had fallen from the trees onto the side of the road. I snatched them up and put them on the back of the Jeep. I'm sure people looked at the Jeep strangly with all of the braches and different materials that were sticking out in all directions. But, they were just the branches and materials that I needed to finish all of the arrangements.

My mom was also a big help with the Zokei works. We worked on them for many, many, many hours, twisting coffee filters and hot glueing cups together. If she hadn't have helped me, I would have never got them finished on time. Thank you!

The night before, I did a little pre-planning. I made the landscape arrangement at home and also cut the branches of oak for the Bunjin arrangment. The next day, I spent the entire day at the library constructing the other 11 arrangements. I think I stopped for maybe 10 minutes to wolf down my lunch. I thought I would never finish everything on time, but I did. Barely!

On Friday, January 4 and Saturday, January 5, 2013, at the Bentonville Public Library in the Walmart Community Room, 400 people came to see the exhibit, "Ikebana -- Living Flowers, Living Art." I was surprised at the turnout, but many people were very interested in ikebana and flowers. Family, friends, and people from all over Northwest Arkansas came to see a little piece of Japanese culture and the thing I love to do. I was so glad that I could share this with everyone. It was a lot of work, but so worth it in the end. But, I think it will be a while before I do anything like that again. Especially by myself!

I hope you enjoy looking at the pictures and the explanations that I included for each work.

Rising Form
The Rising Form expresses the beauty of the rising appearances of materials that are grouped at the center of the container.

Bells of Ireland, dianthus, leather leaf

Inclining Form
The Inclining Form expresses the beauty of the slanting appearances off materials that are grouped together at the center of the container.

Yanagi makizuru, gerbera daisy, foxtail fern

Moribana, Slanting Style
In this Color Scheme Moribana in the Traditional Method, bird's nest fern is arranged to look as it does in nature, and the eight-leaf form has a beautiful, perfectly ordered appearance.

Bird's nest fern, carnation, stock

One-Row Form (front-view)
The composition is created with three principal stems arrayed in a row with an interesting sense of rhythmic variations in the height and spacing of the materials.

Mitsumata, hydrangea, mum, foxtail fern, Asparagus myriocladus

Hanamai expresses the beauty of plants brought out by their mutual interaction in three-dimensional space. Different materials may approach, touch, overlap, mix, or interlace with each other to create beauty through contrast or through harmony. It can be viewed from all angles.

Curly willow, Peace Lily

Circular Form
The three principal stems are inserted at different points along the circumference of a circle, or in such a way that they evoke the appearance of a circle. It is a highly decorative composition created for the places where people live and work. It can be viewed from all angles.

Calla lily, carnation, hypericum, gypsophila, sword fern

Radial Form (multi-sided)
The materials are arranged extending to the left and right of the container on an axis of symmetry, with an object flower placed at the center of the axis. This form is ideal for western style homes and can be used as a centerpiece for a table. It can be viewed from all angles.

Bradford pear, Japanese Rose hip, Asiatic lily, mum, English yew

for Grandma

Zokei, Sculptural Arrangement
This is a freely conceived original work of ikebana. The arranger has an idea and uses it as the motif of the work. Any material or technique may be used to fulfill the aim. The composition should fit well into contemporary spaces.

In this arrangement, coffee filters were used en masse to create a column of texture that makes the viewer want to reach out and touch it.

Coffee filters, mesh wire

for Kato Sensei

Landscape Moribana, Far View
The Traditional Method in Landscape Moribana is a form of ikebana which, while respecting the seasonal character and natural growth patterns of plants, uses an established range of materials and fixed methods of arrangement to express the beauty of a natural scene.

One of the most important principles in the method of arrangement is perspective depiction. In order to express the beauty of a natural scene in the limited space of a container, scale is very important.

In this Far-View Depiction, juniper are used to depict a tall, wooded forest at the foot of a distant mountain near a lake. The branch of driftwood represents withered trees in the forest and adds color variation to the green of the junipers. The mum are used small and low to give scale to the grand scene.

Juniper, driftwood, mum, moss

for Dad

Bunjin Arrangement
This is a type of ikebana that is based on a Japanese interpretation of the taste of the Chinese bunjin, or literati. Emphasis is placed on the elegance and poetic nature of rare blooms, shrubs and plants. The Bunjin Arrangement in not bound by floral styles, and materials may be freely arranged to express one's subjective view of plants.

Lichen covered oak, guzmania, pine

for Hideki

Kobana Arrangement
Kobana translates to "small flower" in English. A Kobana Arrangement uses few flowers and other materials and may be freely arranged to express the artists view of the materials.

Pussy willow, Asiatic lily, Asparagus myriocladus

for Aunt Connie

Kobana Arrangement
Kobana translates to "small flower" in English. A Kobana Arrangement uses few flowers and other materials and may be freely arranged to express the artists view of the materials.

Pine, orchid

for Mom

Heika Arrangement, Cascading Style
Whereas Moribana was originated and developed by the Ohara Schook, Heika, literally "vase flowers," is part of the ancient historical tradition of ikebana. The Heika of the Ohara School is a modern, sophisticated interpretation of this traditional style. The Cascading Style expresses the beauty of lines that flow gracefully downward.

Japanese rose hip, lily (Stargazer)

Zokei, Sculptural Arrangement
This is a freely conceived original work of ikebana. The arranger has an idea and uses it as the motif of the work. Any material or technique may be used to fulfill the aim. The composition should fit well into contemporary spaces.

In this arrangement, Styrofoam cups are used to create three columns of various sizes and weights. The smallest column is thin and feels light, therefore it is used tall in the arrangement. The lowest column is the largest in circumference, giving it a heavy feeling. It is used low in the arrangement to balance out the tall column. The third column is placed next to the tallest one, helping to give the left side of the arrangement some weight and balance out the heaviness of the right side.

This is a perfect example of the asymmetrical balance of ikebana.

Styrofoam cups in three sizes