ikebana and life in japan

a blog about ikebana and life in japan


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!


Hideki said...

it's interesting:) And I like a simple work like that!

Stephen Coler said...

thanks, hideki.

simple is best, but is difficult to make it look more than it is.

Anonymous said...

This is quite a balancing act! I can see why this would be difficult.

I like the solitary calla lily, and its simultaneous assertiveness and humility within the overall composition.

ONe thing more: I"ve seen cherry branches and Plum branches before, but I've NEVER heard of a tree called "Cherry Plum" !! Live and learn I guess. The leaves look to be shaped like birch leaves, but they are the color of Crimson King Maples (ie, maroon or burgundy), judging from your pictures. Interesting. Anyway, I'm sure the fruit produced from this tree must be absolutely scrumptious! :D

Good work!


Stephen Coler said...


Thanks for the comment!

From what I understand, the tree produces small little fruits, about 2 or 3cm in diameter. I have never eaten any, so I couldn't say what they taste like. I think people make jams out of the fruit rather than eat them raw.