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  • Other Names: 華道、花道 (kadô)
  • Japanese: 生け花, 活け花 (ikebana)

Ikebana, also known as kadô ("the way of flowers"), is a traditional Japanese art of flower arranging.

Ikebana is said to have had its start as a codified art form in the 15th century. For formal occasions, flowers were simply arranged standing up vertically in a Chinese celadon porcelain or bronze, or in some other form of vase, which was then displayed atop a lacquerware dish in the tokonoma (display alcove) of a shoin space. This was known as tatehana (standing flowers). Another style, known as nageiri-bana ("thrown-in flowers"), in which flowers were arranged somewhat more naturally, in a more relaxed manner, was used to create displays for more informal occasions.

Ikebana evolved in the 16th century, alongside tea ceremony, into several more formal and codified styles for arranging flowers for display (e.g. for display in a tearoom, to be viewed and appreciated by guests at a tea gathering). A style known as rikka (using the same characters as for tatehana 立花), involving the careful arrangement of a variety of flowers into a formal composition, became perhaps the chief predecessor to the most formal and mainstream form of ikebana today. This style, associated with the consumption of matcha in formal tea ceremony emerged first in Kyoto, and then spread to Osaka and Edo. Meanwhile, the nagairi-bana style developed (especially among townspeople) into a style known as seika, or "living flowers" (using the same characters as for ikebana 生花), and became particularly popular among drinkers of sencha.

The use of bamboo baskets - and not only ceramic or bronze vases - also became a prominent element of flower arrangement and display in the 17th century.

One particularly prominent school of ikebana, the Ikenobô school, today based at a large and prominent headquarters near Karasuma-Sanjô in central Kyoto, traces its origins to a man named Ikenobô Senkô who demonstrated flower arranging before Emperor Go-Nara in 1530. The school (and its founder) may take its name from the "monks' quarters by the pond" (ike no bô) at Rokkakudô, a temple in Kyoto that claims to be the site of the origin of the art of ikebana itself, and which remains a major center of Ikenobô activity today.[1]

The practice of ikebana spread and became quite popular in the Edo period as a refined cultural and social activity, alongside numerous other arts such as Noh chanting, shamisen music, poetry circles, and tea for amateur enthusiasts.[2]


  • Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, Crafting Beauty in Modern Japan, University of Washington Press (2007), 21.
  1. Plaques on-site at Rokkakudô.
  2. Rebecca Corbett, Cultivating Femininity: Women and Tea Culture in Edo and Meiji Japan, University of Hawaii Press (2018), 51.