Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > If Japan is the Queen of Ikebana, Then Hawaii is the Princess

If Japan is the Queen of Ikebana, Then Hawaii is the Princess

And They Held a Golden Celebration for 50 Years of “Friendship Through Flowers.”

Ikebana is an ancient art form that started in the 5th century in Japan by Buddhist monks who used the flower groupings as an offering to the dead in their temples. As is usual in these instances, one particular monk was exceptionally talented in expressing the beauty of nature using flowers and other elements of nature the container/vase which has equal status with the flora. He was asked to teach others his secrets and this was the basis for the styles, rules and standards of today’s art form. By the 15th century the general public also were learning the art. Later some modernizations were made in the rules to allow for the extreme creativity that is shown in arrangements seen here on the island.

Examples of single displays and the large grouping by the entrance.

This past week the Honolulu Chapter of Ikebana International hosted a show at the Academy Art Center at Linekona. (Visitors in Waikiki can catch the bus #2 or #13 to get close (Blaisdell Center) and then walk a few blocks – this is a nice free venue. There were over 50 displays around the room. Some were even hanging from the ceiling in groupings that were quite clever.

And what drew my eye the most was the size of some of the displays. I’m familiar with table top display, but this was a surprise for me. Several were almost to the ceiling, while others used local large scaled leaves and stems, even pieces of trees. I recognized elephant ear leaves that were as big as me, practically. Considering Hawaii is a year round paradise for unusual, exotic, and overly large plants, the arrangers must feel that the sky is their limit in their choice of available resources. I certainly continued to be amazed and inspired as I went around to see each display. These were made by truly experienced and skilled artisans. But it was also fun to look at the table that held works done by children, some as young as 5 and up to their teens. And they were good! Anyone would be proud to place them on their table at home.

Large floor display on left and lower – samples of pottery for sale.

I also went to the upstairs exhibit room where there was a pottery sale. It was advertised that there would be ikebana containers made by the pottery students and teachers. But I went on almost the last day of the show, and I’d say that the sale must have been a success because while the items that were for sale were nice, I didn’t find many that would be the kind used in ikebana. They must have sold out earlier in the week. These pottery classes are ongoing and it seems there are sales on a regular basis in case you are in town and want to check out local pottery samples. So back to the flowers – it may not be classic ikebana, but take some time to admire the floral displays in the hotel where you stay. They are usually spectacular. When I’m in Waikiki I just stroll into the various Hawaii hotel lobbies just to see what is there. Please do the same. Make it part of your Hawaii Vacation, it’s so unique to our islands.

Video: Ikebana displays

Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Apr 6, 2011