A common factor in Japanese traditional art forms is the value placed on traditional forms. New creation is always based on tradition.
Attitudes to tradition vary in Ikebana. Some schools are very strict about learning traditional forms, others encourage students to create free styles after learning basic forms. In general, however, Ikebana is, unlike the tea ceremony or noh theatre, a malleable art, allowing for change in form easily.
Historically, people who advocated new styles in Ikebana would be soundly criticised Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that there have always been radical innovators who revitalize and make Ikebana bloom.
In previous issues, I talked about the Ikebana boom in the Edo period. The most recent boom which occurred after the war was actually the greatest boom in Ikebana history. Ikebana became the most popular hobby among Japanese people. The socio-cultural backgrounds of the people taking up Ikebana in such numbers seem to be quite complicated and nobody has ever looked into the phenomena closely. To understand them, we may need to investigate the fundamental characters of Japanese culture. Such an investigation may suggest some insights into the current declining state of Ikebana.
While the popularity of Ikebana in Edo period was related to the invention of Seika style, that in Showa period was probably related to Free style. Free style movement advocated to arrange flower freely without following traditional rules.
Suido Yamane (1893-1966) was the first to advocate free style Ikebana and Sofu Teshigahara (1900-79) established it and made it very popular. Both of them were radical renovators and consequently were criticised heavily. In the next issue, I’ll talk a bit about how much they were hated in Ikebana world.
This is the work I made for our group exhibition at Kings Arcade, Armadale. Exhibiting Ikebana works in public is important in terms of promoting Ikebana and providing students with a great learning experience. I also hope to promote the kind of flower culture that we can find in Japan. Compared to Australia, there are so much more opportunities to see flower arrangements in Japan. I hope there will be more flower related events here. Please see our students’ exhibition on YouTube. There are links to the videos on my site.