Of all Japan's traditional arts, perhaps the most famed and actively practiced today is IKEBANA, the art of flower arrangement. While tracing its origins back for hundreds of years, it still exists as a vital element in the contemporary world of art. It has emerged from its historical setting within the "tokonoma" alcove of the Japanese house and entered the modern everyday world: the office window or conference room, the hotel lobby or public square. In the same way, Ikebana is no longer the exclusive province of arrangers or artists in Japan, but counts among its devotees professional and amateur designers in all nations and walks of life. This added dimension to the use and meaning of Ikebana has in no way altered those fundamentals of structure, space and naturalism, which have been developed over the centuries.

In basic form, an Ikebana arrangement follows a fixed pattern: a triangle of three points. Emphasis is placed on linear perfection, color harmony, space and form. If commonplace branch material is arranged in a beautifully flowing line, it takes preference over a mass of blooms or blossoms, regardless of their beauty. Of equal importance is the sense of naturalism: an arrangement encompasses nature in all its aspects - from the tall stately pine to the lowliest blade of grass. Further, an Ikebana usually contains the foliage and flowers of the season at hand, used in their natural state except for the deft "cut" of the arranger's clippers, which perfects the line of a branch or the shape of a bud.

There are numerous schools of Ikebana, each following a particular set of rules and arranging techniques, but without losing sight of the fundamentals of the art. And in keeping with the broader emphasis being given to Ikebana in its role in contemporary living, many of these schools seek expression in forms that reach beyond traditional styles.

From: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.