by Stefan Chiarantano, Jul 18, 2006 | Destinations: Japan / Tokyo

There is a lovely woman at my school who in her free time and at her own expense displays an Ikebana floral arrangement in the alcove by the entrance to the school auditorium. I had for some time admired the changing floral arrangements and wondered who was responsible for them. There were quite beautiful. One day by chance I found out who it was and was able to express to her my appreciation and gratitude for having something beautiful to look at whenever I went by the alcove.

As flowers were offered up to the Lord Buddha, the Chinese Buddhist monks of the Tang Dynasty began to practice floral arranging. Floral arranging along with Chinese culture and Buddhism were introduced into Japan in the 6th century. The first school of flower arranging was established by Ikenobo, a former ruling prince of Japan called Ono-no-Imoko, who became a Buddhist monk at the end of his political career.

Ikebana comprises three concepts. They are religious symbolism, preservation of life, and appreciation of beauty. Ikebana follows a basic form consisting primarily of 3 lines. These 3 lines are symbolic with specific relationships to each other. The three lines represent heaven, man, and earth. Heaven is the tallest line which stands above the rest. At the best is earth which is the foundation line. And in between is the man line, reflecting the human existence between the sphere of heaven and the soil of earth.

What I particulary love about Ikebana is the way it uses and arranges flowers. The line designs unlike Western floral design allow each branch, leaf, and flower to be fully viewed and appreciated for their individual beauty.

Living in Japan has it rewards which include discovering and learning about its rich cultural traditions such as Ikebana.

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