Flower arrangements in the Japanese tradition of Ikebana look deceptively simple. But mastering this art takes years of practice. When you see an Ikebana arrangement you know that artistic principles developed over centuries guide the design.

Ikebana style : 20 portable flower arrangements perfect for gift-giving
Keiko Kubo ; photographs by Erich Schrempp.
Boston : Trumpeter Books, 2010.
Celebrate a loved one or add a touch of color to your home with these twenty distinctive flower arrangements. Inspired by the elegant and minimalist style of ikebana (the art of Japanese flower arranging), and constructed using the techniques that promote the functionality and portability of Western designs, these arrangements place sophisticated style into small containers that are easy to move from room to room or to the hands of a friend. Illustrated with beautiful photographs, each arrangement uses just a few easy-to-find floral materials and Western tools and materials. Clear step-by-step instructions with photographs, along with a range of tips and techniques on manipulating and using the materials, are sure to broaden the skills of both beginners as well as those already familiar with the floral arts. Make the arrangements in this book and share the gift of flowers with your friends and family.
Ikebana : the art of arranging flowers
Shozo Sato.
Tokyo ; Rutland, Vt. : Tuttle Pub., c2008.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Japanese flower arranging : the universe contained within : displaying flowers for beauty, contemplation and mindfulness
Harumi Nishi; photography by James Mitchell.
London : Aquamarine, 2007.
With its stunning collection of 260 specially-taken photographs, and flower designs to suit every mood and occasion, this book is not only a celebration of the flower, and an exploration of Japanese flower arranging, but also the start of a personal voyage of discovery for those looking to bring harmony to their life and home.

There are many schools of Ikebana design, each with its own guiding principles. Some famous ones are:

  • Enshu School -- founded in the 15th century, this school emphasizes flowing, curved lines. Sinuous branches of flowering cherry are often used
  • Ikenobo School -- the original school, this uses plants’ natural environment for design inspiration. Elements of water, forest, and mountain are represented in the designs
  • Chico School -- mixing floral materials with other objects gives this style a modern feel. Common items used in design are seasonal fruits and vegetables or dolls
  • Kozan School -- places plant material naturally to mimic that found in nature. Devotees are well schooled in botanical identification.   

Ikebana means “Bring life to flowers”

All schools teach the unique character of Ikebana: asymmetrical balance. The uneven balance creates energy and movement. Every design uses these elements to form the characteristic energetic design of Ikebana:

  • Lines & volume
  • Accent or focal point
  • Shape
  • Balance
  • Positive & negative space

Uniting these with the color and texture of plant materials allows a creative arranger to make pleasing designs that illustrate the power of simplicity.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff