List of Schools of Kado and 3 Schools Recommended for Foreigner Experiences

Motenas Representative
Motenas Representative

Do you want to introduce flower arrangement in your foreign experience, but don’t know the difference between different schools or how to choose the right one?

I want people to experience the beautiful Japanese art of flower arrangement, but I don’t feel confident introducing them to a school of flower arrangement unless I am also familiar with it.


It is true that there are 10 typical differences and characteristics of the schools of flower arrangement, which can be difficult to understand without experience.

Therefore, this article details the differences in style and history of each school of flower arrangement, as well as how to choose the right one for a foreigner’s experience.

If you would like to incorporate flower arrangement into your foreign experience, please refer to this page.

List of Schools of Ikebana and Knowledge to be Acquainted with for the Foreigner’s Experience

We want foreign guests to experience the beautiful Japanese flower arrangement when entertaining them.

However, I am not an expert in flower arrangement myself, and to be honest, I am vague about what schools there are….

If you have such concerns, don’t worry.

Here we introduce some of the most representative schools of flower arrangement, as well as schools recommended for cultural experiences for foreigners.

The three major schools of flower arrangement and their characteristics

There are many schools of flower arrangement, each with a different style and history.

Although flower arrangement was established in the Muromachi period (1336-1573), it has now been subdivided into more than 300 schools.

However, some of these schools are barely known by name.

First, let’s learn about the three major schools of flower arrangement.

1. Sogetsu-ryu

Sogetsu School has a long history and was established in 1927.

The Sogetsu school is characterized by a greater degree of freedom than other schools.

It is known as a modern interpretation of the traditional Japanese cultural tradition of flower arrangement.

One aspect of this school is seen as modern art, and it is also favored by those who like avant-garde works.

The high degree of freedom makes it easy for foreigners and flower arrangement beginners to get involved, and it is also recommended for foreign visitors.

2. Ikebo

Ikenobo is one of the oldest schools in Japan.

It is also considered the originator of flower arrangement and is characterized by a traditional flower arrangement style.

Ikenobo is said to have been established by a monk who lived by a pond during the Muromachi period (1336-1573).

Since Ikenobo is considered to be the original creator of flower arrangement itself, the name “00 school” is never used, but “Ikenobo” is the correct term.

There are two styles that utilize nature as it is: “Ikebana” and “free-style flower arrangement.

3. Ohara-ryu

The Ohara school was established in the Meiji era (1868-1912) by a flower arrangement master who had studied Ikenobo.

The style is characterized by incorporation of Western culture, as was typical of the Meiji period when Western culture was coming into Japan.

It is said that the Obara school was the first to incorporate the kenzan, and many of its works have a three-dimensional feel.

These three major schools are more common, and therefore more accessible to the large number of flower arrangers in the country.

Because of the large number of teachers, it is relatively easy to find a flower arrangement artist to whom you can request a class or workshop.

There are seven major schools of flower arrangement that are well known.

In addition to the three major schools introduced above, there are other well-known schools of flower arrangement.

The seven major schools, which include the three major schools and the four best-known schools, are the schools that are generally known in modern flower arrangement.

The seven major schools of flower arranging.

  1. Sogetsu-ryu
  2. Ikenobo
  3. Ohara-ryu
  4. Ryuseiha (Ryusei School)
  5. Sagami-ryu
  6. Misei-ryu
  7. Koryu (old school)

Each has its own style and history, so get to know the characteristics and find what fits your foreign cultural experience.

The characteristics of each school are described below.

1. sogetsu-ryu

Of the three major schools of flower arrangement, the Sogetsu school is particularly flexible.

Of course, traditional techniques and knowledge are held in check, but there is also a lot of unstructured dynamic in the creation of works of art.

The Sogetsu school is highly regarded as a modern art form and actively holds classes for foreigners.

Some people from overseas who are interested in Japanese culture may know about it.

It can be recommended as an experience for young foreigners and those interested in art.

2. ikebo

Ikenobo is the oldest school of ikebana in Japan and is also known as the originator of ikebana.

Because of this, it is a large school, and teachers and classes are easy to find throughout the country.

One aspect of this is that if there are many teachers, there are many more options, so it is easier to find the right teacher for your foreign experience.

This is the original school of flower arrangement born in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) by the monk Senkei Ikenobo.

It is said that the name “Ikenobo” came from a monk who lived by the pond and called himself Ikenobo.

Ikenobo is said to be the creator of flower arrangement and ikebana itself, so it does not call itself the ◯◯ school or ◯◯ school like other schools.

Ikenobo offers the following three techniques within the same school.

  • freshly cut flower
  • fresh flowers
  • free flower

The techniques are divided into three types: rikka, which expresses the scenery of mountains and rivers; shoka, which expresses the beauty of nature with a few materials; and jiyuka, which is relatively free and incorporates Western flowers, etc., which may be interesting for foreign visitors with a taste for Japanese-style flower arrangement.

3. ohara-ryu

The Ohara school of flower arrangement began in the Meiji era (1868-1912), when Western culture first entered Japan.

Therefore, it can be said that this school is more interesting with a Western flavor than a Japanese one.

It is also a school that is probably more familiar to foreigners, as it actually uses Western flowers.

Also, until the establishment of the Ohara school, flat works were considered the norm in flower arrangement.

It was also the Ohara school that popularized three-dimensional works using the “moribana” technique.

The “Shakei Moribana” method of expression, in which seasonal flowers are used to depict natural scenery, is particularly well known.

4. ryusei-ha

Ryusei-ha is another well-known school of flower arrangement, though not as well known as the three major schools.

It was founded by Yoshimura Kagei in the Meiji era.

During the Meiji period (1868-1912), Western culture was beginning to enter Japan, and even in flower arrangement, Western-inspired forms with a high degree of freedom were attracting attention.

However, in such a situation, Yoshimura Kaisen, the third generation of the Ryusei School, dared to propose a classical approach to ikebana.

Today, Ryusei-ha inherits two styles of flower arrangement: the “classical flower arrangement” advocated by Yoshimura Kaisen, and the “free flower arrangement” that respects individuality and creativity.

5. sagami-ryu

Many schools of flower arrangement have an “iemoto system,” in which the head of the school is the “iemoto,” who passes on the culture to his or her students.

However, the Saga Goryu school is unique in that it has no headmaster and is passed down by the monks of Daikakuji Temple.

Since this school has its roots in Emperor Saga, it has been passed down from generation to generation at Daikakuji Temple, which is associated with Emperor Saga.

Although there was a period of decline, it has since spread nationwide, especially in the Kansai region.

This school of flower arrangement is based on the idea of expressing the feelings of the person arranging the flowers and plants, and of arranging natural flowers and plants as they are.

The traditional form of “denshoka” is also used in Shinto rituals.

6. misei-ryu

Misei-ryu is a school that originated in Osaka in the late Edo period.

The school was established by Miseosai Ippo and Miseosai Hirobo, and is strictly based on a biography published in the late Edo period.

The beauty of Misei-ryu forms, which are created based on geometric theory and Eastern philosophy, can be described as very theoretical.

There are other schools of flower arrangement named “Misei,” but they are all considered to be based on the Misei-ryu of the school’s founder, Miseosai Issho.

7. koryu

Koryu is another school of flower arrangement created in the Edo period.

It is known as one of the traditional schools that use flowers to express Confucian ideas.

It once declined during the Meiji period (1868-1912) when Western culture was flourishing, but was revived in Kanazawa and has been passed down to Tashiro.

This school continues to carry on the traditional styles and techniques of the Edo period, even today.

The “sansai” style of flower arrangement is also well known as a characteristic of the old school.

Koryu is a school that emphasizes ancient Japanese spirituality.

Foreigners with a keen interest in traditional objects will find the delicacy of the work interesting.

The different schools of flower arrangement and how to choose one.

Even if you know that there are multiple schools of flower arrangement, it is difficult to know the differences between them and how to choose the right one for your purpose.

In the schools of flower arrangement, the styles differ because the heads of the schools are different from each other.

If you are learning personally yourself, you should refer to the works of flower arrangement artists of the respective schools.

We recommend that you visit the exhibition in person.

However, if the goal is to experience foreigners, it is important to be aware of whether it is friendly not only from the point of view of the person in charge, but also from the point of view of the foreigner.

For example, the Sogetsu school is one aspect of Sogetsu that incorporates Western culture, and its high degree of freedom makes it a school that is highly compatible with foreigners.

And even within the same school, each teacher has his or her own teaching style.

It would be even better if there is a teacher who is familiar with workshops for foreigners.

The Sogetsu, Ikenobo, and Obara schools, which are three generations of the school, have many classes, so it is relatively easy to find a teacher who is familiar with foreign students.

Is there a ranking of flower arrangement schools? What is recommended for foreign students?

If you look up a school of flower arrangement, the word “ranking” will also appear in the search site’s suggestions.

However, it is very difficult to rank all the different schools of flower arrangement in general, because the differences between them are not meant to determine whether they are good or bad.

Each school of flower arrangement has its own history and characteristics, and each has its own advantages.

Although this is not an easy ranking, here are the schools that can be rated highly based on criteria such as size and “is it recommended for foreigners?

Ikenobo, Sogetsu, and Obara schools for size

The three major schools, Ikenobo, Sogetsu, and Obara, are still among the best in terms of size.

Since it is the most popular school, it is easy to find classes and flower arrangement teachers throughout the country.

There are many exhibitions of this school, so it will be easy to use as a reference when making a selection.

In particular, Ikenobo, the pioneer of flower arrangement, boasts approximately 2.2 million members.

Highly flexible Sogetsu style is easy for foreigners to enjoy

If your goal is to experience a foreign body, you will want to choose a school that fits the sensibilities of foreign people.

Because of its flexibility, the Sogetsu school can be easily enjoyed by foreigners.

The founder, Sofu Teshigahara, questioned the old formal style of ikebana and invented the Sogetsu School.

It is suitable for foreigners who want to enjoy artistic and personalized arrangements while experiencing traditional Japanese culture.

In addition, Sogetsu School actively offers instruction in English under the title of International Classes.

This makes it easy to find English-speaking teachers, and also makes it difficult to feel the language barrier in a foreigner’s experience.

If you want to incorporate Western culture, Ohara-ryu is the way to go.

Obara-ryu is another style that is easily accepted by foreigners.

This is related to the fact that the Meiji period, when the Ohara school was established, was a time when Western culture was actively flowing into Japan.

Therefore, the Ohara school places great importance on harmony with Western culture, and also offers Western-style arrangements.

In the foreign human experience, it can be said that this school provides an enjoyable contrast with Western culture.

Obara-ryu is also a school that is active in communicating to foreigners, with overseas branches.

Koryu for traditional style flower arrangement

Even though they are dealing with foreigners, some people feel that they would like to learn about old-fashioned Japaneseness.

You may be interested in a more traditional and prestigious school, especially if you are familiar with the cultural experience in Japan.

If you want to emphasize traditional Japanese culture, Koryu is the way to go.

Koryu is a school of flower arrangement that expresses Confucian teachings and is strict in its formalities and ceremonies.

While difficult, it is a rare experience to learn the traditional style.

This would be perfect for foreigners who already have experience in other schools of flower arrangement.

Ikenobo for the original flower arrangement

Ikenobo is the original school of flower arrangement and has a very rich prestige and history.

One of the unique ideas of Ikenobo is to find beauty in natural things, even dead flowers and plants.

Not only fresh flowers, but also branches, berries, and autumn leaves are all important to express the plant in all its states.

Such a uniquely Japanese spirit and the story behind its long history are the charms of Ikenobo.

This will be interesting for those who want to learn about the background behind the work.

For foreign visitors to experience flower arrangement, choose a school that suits your clientele.

You have come to realize that the schools of flower arrangement vary greatly in size and style, and that you need to choose according to how you perceive it from a foreigner’s point of view.

When choosing a school of flower arrangement for a foreign experience, it is important to choose one that ultimately suits your clientele.

  • age-group
  • Nationality and culture of the area where you live
  • Level of knowledge of Japanese culture
  • What interests do you have?

These points should be taken into consideration when selecting the right school and teacher for your client’s personality.

The interests of foreign customers, whether they are in their 30s or 60s, are very different.

If you are young and interested in modern art, a highly flexible school like Sogetsu School is likely to please you.

Also, those who are completely new to Japan or completely unfamiliar with Asian culture may enjoy the freedom it offers.

Conversely, older people who are accustomed to cultural experiences in Japan may find the prestigious and traditional schools of Japanese culture refreshing.

Be aware of the feelings of your foreign guests and choose a school of flower arrangement that suits each of them.


Ikebana is an attractive element of the foreign experience that conveys the beauty of Japanese culture and art.

Each school has a different style and characteristics, so choose the appropriate school according to your objectives and the character of your clientele.

Basically, it is recommended to choose from the three largest schools, Ikenobo, Sogetsu, and Obara, according to the needs of your foreign clients.

The appeal of flower arrangement is wide-ranging, including not only the uniquely Japanese tradition, but also the interesting styles that incorporate Western culture. Through flower arrangement, we hope to enrich the lives of our foreign guests.