Ikebana  (生け花) is the art of flower arrangement in Japan, and it literally means: “living flower”. The original name of this art was “Kado” (華道), which means “way of the flowers”.  It only became known as Ikebana during the Medieval Period.

Practitioners of Ikebana are called kadoka, and the teachers are called sensei, which is the usual term to call a teacher in most arts and sports in Japan.

Diagram of works by Ikenobo Senjo

The origins of Ikebana can be traced back all the way to the Classical Period, in the 7th century. One of the theories is that it was introduced via Buddhism, since flowers were used as religious offerings at altars back then. Only later, during the Muromachi Period, did the Japanese start to place flowers in the tokonoma, or alcove, at home. But the art of flower arrangement only reached its golden age between the middle and end of the Edo Period (18th ~ 19th century). The way of the flower reached the commoners, who started to call it Ikebana, and became very quickly popular. Before that, Kado as they called it, was an art practiced only by the aristocracy and the samurai families.

Nowadays the peaceful art of the Ikebana is still very popular, being taught by thousands of specialized schools in Japan, as well as in many countries around the world.