Why are flower arrangement and ikebana classes so popular with foreigners? How to choose a hands-on class is also explained!



Motenas Representative
Motenas Representative

Ikebana, or flower arrangement, is one of Japan’s representative traditional cultures.

It has different characteristics from Western floral arrangements and looks fresh to foreigners.

So, why don’t you treat your important foreign guests with [flower arrangement and ikebana experience]?


I have experience in flower arrangement myself, and the instructor will teach you how to cut and hold the flowers, as well as the key points for arranging them beautifully, so there is no need to worry even if you are a foreign customer who does not usually have much opportunity to touch flowers.

Also, even if you think, “Even though I am Japanese, I have no experience in flower arrangement, so I don’t have the confidence to entertain guests…” If you choose a hands-on class after learning the basics, you will be able to entertain guests with confidence.

In this article, we will explain in detail why flower arrangement and ikebana experiences are popular among foreigners, as well as what to know about ikebana and how to choose a hands-on class.

Why are flower arrangement and ikebana experiences so popular with foreigners?

Why are flower arrangement and ikebana experiences so popular with foreigners?

First, we will explain why flower arrangement and ikebana experiences are popular among foreigners.

If you know what attracts foreign guests, you can entertain them with confidence.

There is a [subtractive aesthetic] that is different from floral arrangements.

The major difference between Western floral arrangements and Japanese flower arrangement and ikebana lies in their respective “aesthetics.

Flower arrangement is aesthetics of addition, using many colors and materials to create gorgeousness.

On the other hand, flower arrangement and ikebana are said to be “subtractive aesthetics” that create a “rich space” with a minimum variety of flowers and plants.

It is sometimes described as “spatial art” because flowers are arranged while creating spaces and pauses.

Another difference is that flower arrangement aims to create a work that can be enjoyed from all angles, 360 degrees, whereas flower arrangement is arranged with a specific front view.

This difference between flower arrangement and Western aesthetics is interesting to foreigners, which is why flower arrangement and ikebana experiences are so popular.

Arranging flowers gives a sense of relaxation.

Many foreigners say that ikebana provides a relaxing experience similar to meditation or yoga.

They may feel the healing effect of the time they spend facing the flowers in front of them, calming their feelings.

Flowers have also been recognized for their medical healing properties.

Some of our foreign customers are stressed from the daily busyness of their lives or tired from the long trip to Japan, so they often appreciate the experience of being able to relax and calm their minds by arranging flowers.

The feeling that flowers are beautiful is universal.

Even though we speak different languages, the feeling of thinking flowers are beautiful is the same all over the world.

For example, cherry blossoms, which are a springtime tradition for Japanese people, are so popular among foreigners for their beauty that they even organize cherry blossom viewing tours for foreigners.

We Japanese also find beautiful flowers such as tulips, lavenders, and sunflowers that are native to foreign countries.

The experience of flower arrangement using beautiful Japanese flowers and plants will be a relaxing time for foreigners as well.

What is flower arrangement and ikebana?

What is flower arrangement and ikebana?

Next, let’s get acquainted with basic knowledge about flower arrangement and ikebana.

Surprisingly, many people, even Japanese, do not know much about flower arrangement.

If you are able to answer questions about flower arrangement from foreign customers, you will be able to make conversation more lively.

There are three typical schools

It is said that there are more than 300 schools of flower arrangement, but the following are three representative schools.

  • Ikebana (priest of the Ikebana sect)
  • Sogetsu school of flower arrangement
  • Ohara-ryu (school of military strategy)

Ikenobo is the original creator of flower arrangement itself and is characterized by its traditional style.

The idea of “utilizing the beauty of seasonal plants and trees” has been handed down since the Muromachi period (1336-1573), and the focus of flower arrangement is often on [utilizing plants and trees] rather than projecting the individuality of the person arranging the flowers.

On the contrary, the Sogetsu style is characterized by a high degree of freedom and respect for the individuality of the artist.

The school is unconventional in its style, and many of its works resemble modern art.

The Obara school is derived from the Ikenobo school and is characterized by a style that incorporates Western culture.

In fact, it was the Ohara school that first introduced the kenzan, a foundation for inserting flower materials that is now indispensable for flower arrangement.

There are a large number of “hana-gata,” the shapes used to arrange flowers, and the rules are well established, so even those who are new to flower arranging and are not confident in their skills will feel at ease.

The above three schools have a large number of classes and are also recommended when looking for flower arrangement and ikebana classes for foreigners.

In the latter half of the article, we will also explain how to choose a school for a foreigner’s flower arrangement and ikebana experience.

Give the materials [roles] and arrange them.

Each flower arrangement in flower arrangement is assigned a role called “yakutei” (role branch).

The names and lengths of yaku branches vary from school to school, but the three basic types are as follows.

  1. The center [true]…the highest height
  2. Accompanying true flowers [sub] … 2/3 the height of the true
  3. Match to the sub [body]…half the true height
    *Name and height are for Ikenobo

Basically, in flower arrangement, one main flower material is chosen and arranged.

The instructor will explain the above roles and branches during the hands-on class, so there is no need to memorize them, just to keep them in mind.

Art that also emphasizes spirituality

Ikebana is an art form that emphasizes not only the beauty of the work but also the “spirit” of the flower arrangement.

The traditional Japanese performing arts named “Michi” have their own unique philosophy and spirit, and they also demand that you improve your own inner self.

Ikebana also has the spirit of ikebana, which means “to find the beauty and brightness of life in each flower or plant, and to let the person who arranges the flower or plant live by arranging it.

Reference source:
From an interview with Yuki Ikenobo, Iemoto of Ikenobo Incoming Iemoto of Ikebana Flower Arrangement, in “Blue Signal

The difference between Western flower arranging and Western flower arranging is that Western flower arrangers hone their sensitivity and technique while also honing their spirituality.

History of Ikebana and Flower Arrangement

History of Ikebana and Flower Arrangement

Here is an introduction to the history of flower arrangement and ikebana.

Ikebana has a history of approximately 550 years, and has been handed down to the present day while developing in response to the changing times.

This is a topic that foreigners interested in traditional Japanese culture and history will enjoy talking about, so let’s prepare for it here.

Flower arrangement began around the 6th century.

The original form of flower arrangement is believed to have existed during the Asuka period around the 6th century.

This is related to the introduction of Buddhism to Japan, and the Buddhist custom of offering flowers to Buddha is said to be the prototype of ikebana.

Furthermore, since Japan has four seasons, flowers for each season should be used as offerings.

In addition to flower offerings, people began to appreciate plants and flowers, compose waka poems, and believe that plants are inhabited by 8 million gods.

The foundation of flower arrangement is established in the Muromachi period (1336-1573)

The foundation of modern flower arrangement was laid in the Muromachi period (1336-1573).

This period saw the creation of much traditional Japanese culture, of which the tea ceremony and Noh plays are prime examples.

Among them was tatebana, a type of ikebana in which branches are placed high in a vase, which spread among aristocrats and samurai families and formed the basis of flower arrangement.

Incidentally, the flowers inserted by a monk named Ikenobo were the talk of the town at that time.

This Ikenobo was the person who went on to establish one of the three major schools of modern flower arrangement, Ikenobo.

Ikebana spread to the common people in the Edo period.

In the Edo period (1603-1867), ikebana, which had previously permeated mainly the aristocracy and samurai families, spread to the townspeople.

At this time, flower arrangement greatly developed, and many schools and the iemoto system also appeared.

In the Meiji period (1868-1912), Western flowers and plants began to flow in, and the style of ikebana that incorporated them became popular.

In the postwar period, ikebana and ikebana have changed and developed with the times, as styles that respect the individuality of the ikebana practitioner have become more established.

I have the impression that flower arrangement is an art form that has been passed down with flexibility while preserving its traditional aspects, and in particular, it has actively introduced new things such as “Western flowers and plants.

Although flower arrangement has a formal image, it is actually a part of traditional Japanese culture that has been enjoyed casually by everyone.

How to choose a flower arrangement and ikebana experience for foreigners

How to choose a flower arrangement and ikebana experience for foreigners

Finally, we will introduce how to choose a foreigner’s hands-on flower arrangement and ikebana class.

The following is a list of potential candidates for the trial class, in the order listed below.

  1. Select a School of Ikebana and Flower Arrangement
  2. Choose a style of hands-on class
  3. Find a classroom for foreign languages.

Select a School of Ikebana and Flower Arrangement

Different schools of flower arrangement have different styles.

Therefore, first decide on a school that suits the tastes of your foreign customers.

Depending on the language of the foreign client, it is easy to find teachers who are fluent in foreign languages in the following three major schools.

  • Ikenobo…recommended for foreigners who are familiar with traditional Japanese culture
  • Sogetsu style…recommended for younger people and foreigners who are interested in art.
  • Obara style…recommended for foreigners who are not familiar with Japanese culture

Ikenobo is the “original school of flower arrangement” and therefore has a more traditional style.

Therefore, it is recommended for foreigners who are familiar with or have a strong interest in traditional Japanese culture.

The Sogetsu school is the most flexible of the three major schools, making it suitable for foreigners who want to enjoy the experience of flower arrangement and ikebana while freely expressing their individuality.

Because the Ohara school often uses Western floral materials, there is a good chance that you will be able to experience flower arrangement using plants and flowers that are familiar to foreigners, especially from the West.

In addition, as already explained, the Ohara school has a solid set of kata and rules, so even first-timers will be able to experience flower arrangement with little anxiety.

The following is a brief description of the characteristics and recommendations of the three major schools, but it is also effective to search for images of works of other schools on social networking sites and ask foreign customers to choose their favorite style.

Choose a style of hands-on class

Once you have narrowed down the schools, the next step is to choose a style of trial class.

The following are some of the places where you can experience flower arrangement in Japan.

  • Hands-on Flower Arrangement Classes
  • Instructor Traveling Classrooms
  • Tours to experience Japanese culture

Dan is a place where flower arrangement classes are held, and sometimes a hands-on class for beginners is offered.

If the participants around you are also beginners, foreigners can participate without feeling self-conscious.

The trial class is characterized by its casual and easygoing atmosphere, and is recommended when you want to entertain foreign friends.

If the instructor is traveling to your company or facility, you can invite the instructor to your company or facility and have foreigners experience flower arrangement in a private space.

If you are entertaining business partners or VIP foreigners, a traveling classroom that can provide a relaxed atmosphere would be recommended.

Ikenobo Ikebana Luxe, which has classes in Azabudai and Ochanomizu, can arrange both trial classes and on-site classes, so please refer to them.

The official website of Ikenobo Ikebana Luxe:

There are also a few companies that offer tours to experience Japanese culture.

These tours also allow visitors to experience multiple Japanese cultures, such as tea ceremony and kimono, including flower arrangement.

For example, the experience tours organized by “Limited Liability Company Tea Ceremony Experience Ancient Capital” allow visitors to experience flower arrangement (Misei-ryu), tea ceremony, and kimono at the Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto, which is rented out.

The hands-on tours are a great way to entertain your foreign friends, as there may be other participants.

Tour details for the “Limited Liability Company: Tea Ceremony Experience Ancient Capital.”

Find a classroom for foreign languages.

Finally, look for hands-on classes and tours that are available in the language of your international guests.

Because flower arrangement is expanding overseas, it is easy to find a teacher who can help you if you speak English.

Ikenobo Ikebana Luxe” and “GK Tea Ceremony Experience Ancient Capital”, which we have already introduced, offer flower arrangement experiences in English.

In the unlikely event that you cannot find a hands-on class or tour that is available in your foreign visitor’s language, you may wish to arrange for a separate interpreter.



Since opportunities to experience flower arrangement and ikebana are rare, even among Japanese people, you may be wondering how to entertain them.

Furthermore, there are many schools, so there are a surprisingly large number of options to choose from.

In order to offer flower arrangement experiences with confidence, it is important to research the preferences of foreign customers and select hands-on classes and tours.

Many of our flower arrangement instructors are accustomed to dealing with foreigners, so you can set up a flower arrangement experience with more peace of mind by checking with the instructor beforehand about any concerns you may have.

Motenas Japan can also propose a flower arrangement experience where you can wear a kimono and receive instruction from a famous iemoto.

At the end of the flower arrangement experience, visitors can take photos in a Japanese garden, which is a valuable experience.

If you would like to plan a special hospitality event, please contact Motenas Japan.