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    It is very different from what we thought and not as easy as it seems! Ikebana is the oldest floristry style in the world. Reginaldo (Regi) Bockhorni is an Ikebana professor. Together with the professor we visited nursery Lathyrus.nl and  breeder HilverdaFlorist, where Regi took us along to experience a piece of extraordinary Japanese culture.



    The Ikebana floristry style originates from Japan. The style is developed from the flower offers to the spirits of the deceased in Buddhist temples. The offers date from the 6th century, when Buddhism was introduced in Japan.

    Ikebana is from ‘ikeru’ 生 け る meaning ‘keep alive’ and ‘hana’ 花 which means ‘flower’. Potential alternative translations are ‘giving life to flowers’ and ‘arranging flowers’. Ikebana is characterized by the arrangement of flowers in lines. The emphasis is on asymmetry, space, contrast and harmony. In contrast to the western floristry style, Ikebena a is very minimalistic and few flowers are used per arrangement.



    Reginaldo Bockhorni was born in Brazil. When he was a little boy, he followed piano lessons. His teacher was not just a piano teacher, but taught Ikebana as well. Regi would get the flowers for his teacher from the market, and received piano lessons in return. Reginaldo had a Japanese aunt, who made him familiar with the Japanese culture and made him interested in the Ikebana floristry style. After his education in the Netherlands, he worked in the hospital as specialist neurology. However, he kept missing something apart from work. He decided to pick up Ikebana and followed lessons for 7 years. After that, he decided it was time for something different and follow his own way. Regi has been following several Ikebana studies in the past few years, and is now president of the Ikenobo Study Group in Zurich, which he set up himself. He travels around the world, and teaches in different countries to share his passion with students and exhibits his arrangements.



    Ikenobo is the oldest and largest Ikebanaschool in the world. This school has existed for over 550 years and marks the start of the construction of the Rokkaku-dō temple in Kyoto. This temple was built in 587 for prince Shōtoku, who was looking for a place to practice Buddhism near a pond in Kyoto. In the 7th century, Ono-no-Imoko, who was an official emissary, brought the practice of placing Buddhistic flower arrangements to the altar from China to Japan. He became a priest in the temple and spent the rest of his days arranging flowers. The original priests of the temple lived next to the pond. This is where the Japanese word ‘Ikenobo’ 池 坊 or ‘priest of the pond’ originates from. ‘Ike’ 池, ‘Bo’ 坊 is connected with ‘no’ の translates to priest of the pond. The name Ikenobō was provided by the emperor and was used to describe the priests who specialized in the arrangements on the altar.


    Three styles

    Regi explains the three Ikebana styles: Rikka, Shoka and Jiyuka, each characterized by its own features. At nursery Lathyrus.nl we were introduced to the Jiyuka style. At HilverdaFlorist, Regi created a beautiful Shoka arrangement with the Gerbera.

    Rikka means ‘standing flowers’. This is an old style in the Ikebana: it existed 550 years ago. This style originates from the Buddhist flower arrangements, which were placed upright in the vase. The Rikka style shows the beauty and power of the mountain landscape. The arrangement are usually large (1.5-4.5 meter high) and their constructions requires large, technical and artistic skills.

    Shoka  is a style which developed in the late Edo period (1603-1868). By using one to three materials, Shoka expresses the living form of plants rooted in the ground and growing up. Shoka symbolizes natural growth. From the moment you cut off flowers and leaves of plants, you are responsible to arranging life even more beautiful. In this style, no threat or additional materials are used.

    In his demonstration, Regi used an elegant vase with a kenzan to secure the flower stems. A kenzan is a lead plate with a large amount of pikes, where the flower stems can be pushed in.

    Jiyuka is the most recent developed style and is popular in the Western world. The other two styles follow a lot of rules, and westerners are not particularly fond of those. Jiyuka is the freestyle form of Ikebana. It is a style without a fixed form, and can be arranged freely by observing shapes and textures of plants.

    The different Ikebana styles in classic and modern forms are memorable to create and admire. The challenge is to find balance and fining the right lines of the material. It is very detailed and creating Ikebana arrangements provides peace. Ikebana is artistic, a piece of art. It is not necessarily suitable for sales, but more to create it yourself or to give as a present.


    FloraPodium, 30 July 2020

    Jiyuka arrangement at Lathyrus.nl

    Shoka arrangement at HilverdaFlorist


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