Melbourne Ikebana Festival, 7 and 8 September

Thursday 29 May 2014

Friday 2 May 2014

Ikebana Today 23

What is Ikebana? It may take a while to come up with a good definition.
Let’s start by looking at an official definition by Kojien. Ikebana is “making a decoration for a room by inserting branches, leaves and/or flowers cut from plants into a vase with water.” It is so simple but don’t you think that something essential is missing in this? We will come back to this definition at another time.

However, note that it points out the following three important factors in Ikebana. 1. It uses materials taken from plants. 2. It gives water to the plant materials. Plant material, containers, and water are the three essential components of Ikebana. 3. It is a decoration. This is a functional aspect of Ikebana. Therefore, good Ikebana means good decoration. I think it is important to start from this kind of basic definition in order to explore further what Ikebana is. 

This is one of the works I made for “Passage,” a collaborative Ikebana performance with Yumi Umiumare as part of Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria. While I was making two large works, Yumi danced about the passage from this word to the other world for one hour. 

Ikebana literally means to make flowers alive. We cannot make living flowers alive. That is not logical. We can make only dead flower alive. Ikebana is to give new life to cut flowers, which are in a sense dead flowers. The process of creating Ikebana is a metaphor for the spiritual passage, which our performance was all about. I’ll talk about this aspect of Ikebana more in detail sometime soon.