ikebana and life in japan

a blog about ikebana and life in japan


Summer Ikebana In a Vase

Summer is in full swing here in Japan -- it is hot and muggy most of the time, making for long days where you don't want to do anything because of the heat. I like the cold winter months much more than the hot summer months. But, it has not been that bad this year. The hot weather came later than usual, and I am happy for that.

In the summer, it's important to find ways to help keep yourself cool. One of my favorite ways is with a cool feeling ikebana arrangement. Just looking at an arrangement can help to cool you off, and you get to enjoy the beauty of the arrangement, too.

This week, for my weekly lesson, I did an arrangement in a vase. The Japanese witch-hazel has many large leaves on the branches. To achieve a cool feeling, you have to cut off many of the leaves and expose the beautiful gray/brown color of the branches. The leaves are a beautiful dark green and feel fresh and alive. Amongst the branches I inserted a couple of purple Chinese bellflowers. They rise up tall in the arrangement, showing the elegant line of the stem. To me, a purple and green arrangement always feels cool and refreshing.

Nageire, arrangement in a vase
Japanese witch-hazel, Chinese bellflower

In this arrangement, I have used only 3 branches of the witch-hazel and 2 stems of the bellflower; yet, it feels large and full of life. Paying special attention to the movement of the branches to show off their individual beauty and character is what makes ikebana special and different from Western style floral arrangements. Using fewer branches also helps to make the arrangement feel cool. The large space above the vase created by the curving branch of the witch-hazel stretching up toward the sky makes a beautiful space for the bellflower to be inserted. The tall bellflower in the space also helps to make the arrangement feel cool and refreshing. 

I thought it would be interesting to show a view from the side.

Here you can see how far forward it stretches. But, you don't notice it when looking at it from the front -- part of the magic of the Ohara School of Ikebana!

I hope you are staying cool in your part of the world. Maybe this will help to cool you off and make you feel refreshed.

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