Peace, Harmony, and Ikebana

Whether I’m writing a blog or drawing a picture, there has to be a “first thing.” It’s that single initial step that gets the creative juices flowing and nudges you down the path to your next masterpiece. It’s the same with ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging.

To learn more about this revered Japanese art, I reached out to May Hiraoka-Tomita (pictured at left; photo credit: Roger and Barbara Tinius), who is the local chapter president of the Ikenobo Ikebana Society. She said ikebana begins when you hold a single, beautiful flower in your hand and think about how you’re going to display it. Then, you decide on a vase, which can be a favorite cup, dish, vase or bottle. From there, you embark on an artistic journey to making your own unique floral arrangement. “Ikebana is a way to express one’s feelings with each individual flower. Therefore, the same floral material and vase used by different people can result in completely different arrangements,” she said.   

Ikebana originated at the Rokkakudo Temple in Kyoto, Japan, more than 550 years ago. The art eventually spread to Hawaii in 1925 – first on Hawaii Island, then later to Oahu in 1933.

If you’ve ever seen an ikebana arrangement, you probably noticed how elegant and minimalistic they look. You’ll never see one that is “over the top” with a riot of color or too many flowers. Hiraoka-Tomita, who has been taking classes and practicing ikebana for over 20 years, explained, “The basic philosophy of wa, or peace and harmony, is the focal point in the arrangement of flowers.”

Like most artistic activities, ikebana is good for your health. Hiraoka-Tomita said, “When I create a flower arrangement, the beauty of the flowers mesmerizes me, and any stress from a busy workday disappears. Ikebana gives me a sense of peace, brings me close to nature, and brightens my day.” (That's one of her arrangements on the right. Photo credit: Roger and Barbara Tinius)

If you’re interested in giving ikebana a try, Hiraoka-Tomita encourages you to visit the chapter’s Facebook page. Classes are available on Maui, Hawaii Island, and Kauai, as well as at several locations on Oahu. You can also email ikenobohonolulu@gmail.com for more information.