Ancient form of Japanese flower arrangement leads students to find peace, nature

The Japanese art of flower arranging is an ancient art form aimed at helping students find peace and beauty while connecting with nature.

“Theoretically, we are supposed to work in silence,” explains Jean-Marcel Duciaume, teacher at the Edmonton Ikenobo Ikebana Study Group.

“People arrive, they can be stressed by the work they’ve done, or this or that, and when they leave they feel a lot more relaxed and in touch with nature.
The main difference between Western flower arrangement and Ikebana is the use of space, explains Mayumi Chino. (Rick Bremness / CBC)

“I call it a moving meditation, which is why it is so peaceful.”

However, the origins of the art form may have been less contemplative, Duciaume said.

According to Duciaume, a first form of Ikebana dates back to the 6th century when Buddhism arrived in Japan.
Professor Mayumi Chino presents an ancient form of Japanese flower arrangement called Ikenobo Ikebana. (Rick Bremness / CBC)

The monks offered flowers to Buddha, but began to compete with each other over who could offer the best flower arrangement, he said.

In the 1400s, monks wrote the first book on the Ikenobo School of Flower Art.

This week, Duciaume’s study group was honored with a rare visit from a teacher of this art form.

Mayumi Chino, teacher at Ikenobo School in Kyoto, Japan, came to inspire the students of the group.

Chino said the difference between Ikebana and North American flower arrangement is a matter of space.

“Usually western arrangements contain a lot of flowers and sometimes you can’t see the space between the flowers,” she said.
Another example of an Ikenobo Ikebana flower arrangement. (Rick Bremness / CBC)

“The Ikenobos see something between the flowers. In space, sometimes (we) feel the wind and sometimes we see the rain.”

Duciaume said working with Chino will leave a lasting impact on his students.

“Students see things in a new way. It turns them on and prepares them to do more work. Once the teacher leaves, they will want to do more and learn more.
Students from the Edmonton Ikenobo Ikebana study group work on their flower arrangements. (Rick Bremness / CBC)

Rosalie M. Dehner