Japanese Flower Arranging

Japanese flower arrangement

The arrangements of flowers offer far more than a pattern employing flowers and foliage neatly distributed in an appropriate container.

Not only is it a form of relaxation, but flower arrangement reawakens an awareness of nature upon which a philosophy – that of restraint and simplicity — is based.

The most important things to remember in good flower arrangement are the line, its force and strength, colour and its function where applied flowers: the former the flower receptacle and its influence on the form of the floral design.

Proper ratio

The width of the bowl measures the longest leaf in an arrangement; if the container is low, a ratio of one and half times the width of the container should be adhered to. Japanese designs frequently exceed this measurement, even attaining a great height, but they never go under that proportion.

In much of classical Japanese designs, the famous Hogarth curve of beauty, of the letter “S,” is a criterion as an art principle and is easy to apply. This method is intriguing and delightfully uncomplicated.

The distinguishing feature of the Japanese classical design is the adherence to a symmetrical balance, the placement of three crucial levels, the emergence of all stems from one stalk, the tip of the tallest bisecting its base, the employment of the odd number, and the inevitable selection of shrubs and flowerless trees instead of flowers.

Flexible Design

Although Japanese design seems most formal, it is most flexible in reality.

The method is merely a discriminatory pattern based upon years of experience in this ancient but exquisite art.

One can learn much from the traditional style of the Japanese. It is not only a method of design but more — a philosophy akin to an appreciation of life. The very nature of existence is depicted in that only three things are essential — heaven, man and earth. Upon this trio is built the Japanese art of flower arrangement.


Many misunderstand the quiet serenity and intent of an authentic Japanese design. Consequently, it does not have beauty or give emotional satisfaction for them. If, however, to these same rhythmic lines, flowers expressive of the season or flowers selected for their lovely colour are inserted, it will enhance and beautify the design immeasurably. When this is done, it becomes a classical adaptation.

The style of Japanese flower arrangements is based entirely on realism, which interprets nature as it exists.

Very few flowers are needed to construct a Japanese arrangement. The most primitive yet the most satisfactory flower holder for these arrangements are the Y-shaped wooden holder or the crotch of a tree frequently used by the Japanese.

Illusion of growth

In one gorgeous flower arrangement, only three or four pussy willow branches are required. Still, the line is perfect, and branches springing from the trunklike base give the illusion of growth and an accurate representation of nature.

One branch from a plum tree may be used springing from the root of an old tree. The placement of the branch suggests the new growth in youthful vigour from the root of an old tree. The lines, their purity, appear to be etched.

Add a few blossoms to the branches in the right line and balance, and you have a classical design.

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