Frequently Asked Questions

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What is Ikebana?

Ikebana is often called the “Japanese art of flower arranging”, but is much more than simply putting flowers in a vase. It is creative expression within certain rules of construction using living plant materials. Any plant material may be used as well as flowers.

Characteristics that distinguish ikebana from “western flower arrangement” are asymmetrical form, the use of empty space as an essential feature of the composition and a sense of harmony among the materials, the container and the setting. Traditional Japanese paintings, architecture, gardens and design share these characteristics.

In common with other art forms, it is necessary to master certain fundamental techniques before proceeding to free creation in ikebana.

What is Sogetsu Ikebana?

The Sogetsu Style of Ikebana was established in 1927 by Sofu Teshigahara, who considered that ikebana should be creative and enjoyable - not bound by the rules of the classical styles and copying patterns. Sogetsu is a modern style of ikebana which can be enjoyed anywhere, at any time, with the free use of a wide range of materials. Any plant material may be used as well as flowers. For example, withered leaves, seed pods, roots, branches, etc. are valued as highly as flowers in full bloom. Unconventional, bleached and dried materials are also used.

After the basic principles of Sogetsu Ikebana are learned, practitioners look more deeply into themselves and their ideas, and express their feelings through their ikebana works. Because of this, even ikebana works using the same material will be different if made by different people. The works will also differ according to where they are placed. Sogetsu Ikebana can be made for private or public spaces and vary in size from about 10 cm. high to large installations that occupy a whole theatre stage, a room, a hotel foyer or even an outside area, such as a park.

What is the history of Ikebana?

Ikebana is one of the traditional arts of Japan and has its real beginnings in the Muromachi period – the middle of the fifteenth century. Other Japanese arts that developed at this time were tea ceremony, Noh, painting, garden design and architecture.

There are many different Schools or Styles of Ikebana in Japan. Sogetsu is one of the more modern Schools. It was founded in Japan in 1927 by Sofu Teshigahara, who believed that ikebana should be both enjoyable and creative and not bound by the rules of classical styles and copying patterns. The Sogetsu School believes that anything may be used as material and displayed anywhere.

Sofu was the iemoto (head) of the Sogetsu School from 1927 to 1979. His daughter Kasumi took the position from 1979 to 1980. She was followed by Sofu’s son Hiroshi who held the position until 2001. The present iemoto is Hiroshi’s daughter Akane.

For more information about the history of Ikebana, please visit the About Ikebana section.

Can you tell me about Sogetsu Ikebana in Brisbane?

Sogetsu Ikebana Queensland Inc. is a Branch of Sogetsu Teachers’ Association in Japan. Our teaching curriculum is set at Sogetsu Headquarters in Japan, which also issues achievement certificates and diplomas to our students.

We have a very active group in Brisbane and our annual exhibition in the Auditorium of Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt. Coot-tha attracts many visitors. Our members have been involved with installations at the ABC Gardening Expo, the Queensland Museum and many gardens and galleries. For many years members exhibited also at David Jones Department Store in conjunction with the annual Spring Flower Show. We have been associated for many years with the Queensland Art Gallery and our arrangements can be viewed there. Some members independently hold small exhibitions or display ikebana in other public places.

The Sogetsu School style of ikebana was introduced to Australia by Mr. Norman Sparnon in 1960. He had studied in Japan under Sofu Teshigahara (founder and first head of Sogetsu) for several years after the end of World War II. From his home in Sydney he travelled to many parts of Australia, and in 1963 he introduced the art to Queensland when he held the first classes in Brisbane.

Where can I learn Ikebana?

If you would like to attend classes with one of our teaching members please contact a teacher in your area. The curriculum they follow is set down by the Sogetsu School Headquarters in Japan and achievement certificates and diplomas are issued from there. Students may join our Association when they have obtained at least the first certificate of the curriculum.

Who can teach Sogetsu Ikebana?

Among our members are practising teachers who are teaching members of Sogetsu Teachers’ Association in Japan. They have completed the years of study required by Sogetsu Headquarters in order to qualify as teachers. In addition, they continue to study by attending classes and workshops themselves. Sogetsu Ikebana can become a lifetime study – enriching the life and environment of those who become involved with it.