The Three Schools of Theory in Ikebana

It has been said in reference to the Japanese art of Ikebana that “flowers are cut and not killed.” This statement is extremely true as the vivacious Ikebana flower arrangements attempt to capture a flower’s soul. The fundamentals of this practice were developed during the seventh century by a Buddhist man named Senmu. His concept for Ikebana was that the art should show harmony between man and nature and each composition should consist of three parts.


The early practices of Ikebana have continued up through today. Ikebana arrangements are usually created from three main parts: the shin (the tallest piece), soe (the medium piece), and hikae (the shortest piece). Each flower must somehow enhance the other’s shape or color. Most often, Ikebana artists use two different types of plants for their creation. Each school of Ikebana arrangement has developed their own set of rules and formulas to determine the placement of these plants.

Three schools of theory exist in the art of Ikebana. The first is Ikenobo, is the oldest and the most traditional. The second is called Ohara, whose main rule is that the creator of the arrangement should express their feelings for the flower in the arrangement. Ohara’s practices with Moribana, a type of ikebana created in a flat vase, raised Ikebana to a modern level.


Members of Ohara have four different methods to work with; they include color, mass-effect, line, and abstract design. Arrangements from the school are also divided into five separate categories.

The final school is named Sogetsu. The most important aspects in Sogetsu design are lines and color. As with all schools, the Sogetsu school desires for its creations to bring out the beauty and uniqueness in each flower. Artists’ delicate consideration to detail and exact placement of flowers in Ikebana is what makes this form of art particularly stunning.


Article Submitted by:

Michael Longo


Naples Floral Design
This article was submitted by a Guest Author of the Above Board Chamber.