If you’re truly interested in learning how to arrange flowers, probably one of the most challenging styles would be Ikebana, the ancient art of flower arranging. Ikebana’s Japanese characters translate to “living flowers” and it is considered a meditative art form.
I have always seen Ikebana as something like sculpting — just with flowers, branches and leaves. Western-style flower arrangements are more typically wild and full of blossoms, but Ikebana — like the related art of Bonsai — is more restrained and, some might argue, disciplined.
My mom’s style of flower arranging had elements of Ikebana, especially with her display pieces that used braided leaf elements. It might be one reason why I admire and am interested in the art.
Ikebana would be best for those interested in floral arrangement and maybe even interior design, rather than, say, someone looking to put together 15 centerpieces for a wedding. As I mentioned, Ikebana is the art of Japanese floral arrangement, and you wouldn’t want your art pieces looking the same as another, as you might want for your guest table centerpieces.
The Southern California area is rich with Japanese culture, so its no surprise that there are a number of places where one could learn or view Ikebana. Here’s a short list.
- Sogetsu Los Angeles — It so happens that Sogetsu’s Los Angeles branch played host this past weekend to the 9th annual North American Sogetsu Seminar, an event where Ikebana artists from all over the world gather. This seminar also held the first ever Iemoto Ikebana Live, a live demonstration that sold out quickly.
- Ikenobo Ikebana Society Los Angeles Chapter — On Memorial Day weekend, this organization will be hosting an exhibition at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in El Monte. They also have a workshop in September.
- Venice Japanese Community Center — This organization’s site is a little outdated, so I can’t tell if they are currently holding classes. Call ahead.
- Haruko Takeichi — Again, I can’t tell if this site is up to date, but Haruko Takeichi seems to hold Ikebana classes at several locations in LA and Orange counties. Call ahead to make sure.
- West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple — The School of Ikebana seems to be an organization related to the West Los Angeles Buddha Temple. Classes are taught by Motoko Saneto. As usual, call ahead to verify classes.