Convention Top Ikebana International Ninth World Convention 50th Anniversary
Essence of Ikebana Opening Ceremony Demonstration Meeting Culture Program Exhibition Banquet
Special Programs
Essence of Ikebana - A Tradition of Beauty

People everywhere in the world have always admired the beauty and fragrance of flowers. In Japan, this love of flowers brought about a special cultural art called "ikebana," which developed about 600 years ago.

The theme of this 50th anniversary World Convention is

Retracing the footsteps of Ikebana a path to the future
- いけばなに新たな光を -

Following this theme, in the video presentation, "Essence of Ikebana," we attempted to survey briefly the historical background of ikebana from ancient days to the present.

In honor of Ikebana International's half century of vigorous activity and commitment to ikebana, on the first day of the Convention, a special program for the 50th anniversary that took over three years of careful preparation was presented in the Hiten Hall of the New Takanawa Prince Hotel.


The Essence of lkebana video program opened with a vibrant musical soundtrack, providing drama to a beautiful graphic sequence of Japan's seasonal scenes and flowers.The narration, with the voice of Mr Kenneth Jones, can be summarized:

In ancient Japan, evergreen trees were thought to be receptacles of spiritual power, to contain the essence of deity.Examples of this belief today are the evergreen sakaki leaves used in Shinto rituals and the pine boughs used in New Year decorations.

Buddhism and Chinese culture introduced in the 6th century greatly influenced the Japanese people. Native beliefs had no man-made images, as compared to Buddhism, which had many icons as well as houses of worship. The practice of arranging flowers on Buddhist altars took hold.

Prince Shotoku established the Rokkakudo Temple in Kyoto at the end of the 6th century. It is said that flowers were offered on the altar of the temple daily. This custom of altar flowers as well as the concept of evergreens being imbued with sacred power are said to have influenced the emergence of ikebana.

In the Heian period (794-1185), offerings of flowers in an upright form became an aristocratic custom.Such arrangements moved away from their religious origins. People came to admire the "natural" aspect of flower arrangements and to "train" the material arranged in a vase to look natural.

Heian period aristocrats used cherry blossoms in various amusements, such as cherry blossom viewing parties, flower matching games, gardening contests In the 8th and 9th centuries, cherry blossom images appear in many literary works, such as the Man’yoshu poetry anthology. Flower arrangement imagery appears in The Tale of Genji (11th century), and passages from the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon (also 11th century) contain images of cherry blossom arrangements.

In the dimly lit architecture of the time, flower arrangements were large in scale and vases were placed in the corners of railings. Such reference materials are important in studying the history of ikebana.

The video continued, tracing the history of ikebana to the present day, interspersed with on-stage demonstrations of historical costume.


Essence4To the live performance of biwa (lute) and flute, models wearing court dress of the Heian aristocracy appeared on stage - the woman's junihitoe, comprised of many layers of colored silk robes, and the man's sokutai, with fewer layers and in quiet colors.

Then models in garments of the Edo period came on stage: formal male shogunate court attire; formal male attire still used today; the colorful kimono and coat of the daughter of an aristocratic family; woman's ordinary upper-class kimono; the garb of the flower peddler women of Kyoto, known as Oharame.

This colorful interlude and the splendid video showed the audience real examples of the Japanese sense of color and design for almost a millennium of Japanese history and illustrated how Japan's unique color and composition sensitivity was echoed in ikebana.

Essay Contest - "Ikebana International and Me"

Another special convention and anniversary event, the Essay Contest on the theme "Ikebana International and Me" received vigorous interest from members.

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Contest awards were presented by Past President and Chief Judge Anna Nakada and by Convention Chairperson Yoriko Ikezawa.

Mrs. Nakada: "The response was nothing short of overwhelming - 56 essays from 17 countries across the world. I want to pay tribute to all 56 respondents and perhaps hundreds of members who even thought about sharing their stories with us. Taken together, these eloquent essays constitute a unique oral history of I.I., the organization and the individuals."

The 1st Prize went to Mrs. Mary Kasei, Philadelphia Chapter; the 2nd Prize to Mrs. Vivienne Pascoe, Auckland Chapter; the 3rd Prize to Mrs. Veronica T. lorio, Philadelphia Chapter; and Honorable Mention went to four members: Mrs. Judith S Hata, New York Chapter; Mrs. Ohryu Rekha Reddy, Hyderabad Chapter; Mrs. Elizabeth M Higgs, Melbourne Chapter; Mrs. Maude Chin, Sydney Chapter.

Selected Essays "Ikebana International - and Me"