Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, is also known as kadō — the way of the flowers. Based on an ancient Buddhist ritual of using flowers to honor the spirits of the dead, kadō is one of the three Japanese arts of refinement.
More than 600 years later, this ancient art form is celebrated by more than 8,500 people in more than 60 countries through Ikebana International. Started in 1956 by Ellen Gordon Allen, a U.S. general’s wife who was stationed in Japan, this international organization was founded to unite people and create a worldwide “Friendship of Flowers.”
Hawai‘i’s chapter began in 1961, when a friend of Ellen’s, Pearl Jensen, met local arrangers from Enshu, Ikenobo, Koryu, Ohara and Sogetsu schools while attending an exhibit at the Shirokiya Department Store. Since then, the Honolulu Chapter, known as Hawai‘i’s Ikebana International Honolulu Chapter 56, has been promoting cultural understanding and appreciation of this craft through exhibitions, demonstrations, workshops and community service projects.
The biggest exhibit is the Splendors of Ikebana held every summer in Honolulu. This year’s event brought thousands of people to the Hawai‘i State Library, with some even trying their hand at ikebana in the make-and-take workshop. While the elegant and restrained creations may seem simple, they are anything but. This delicate art form can take decades to master.
Look for other ikebana workshops and classes throughout the year at the Mo‘ili‘ili Community Center, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu Hale, and various other schools and nonprofits.