Story about Ikebana "School"

Before writing a story about schools of Japanese Ikebana, I think it better to define the term of "school" used in this section. The school of Ikebana ("Ikebana Ryuha" in Japanese) means a group of Ikebana artists who follow the same style of flower arrangement developed by the founder of a group.

As we often find factions or cliques in the world of politicians or statesmen, there are so many schools (Ikebana artist groups) in the Japanese Ikebana world. Some of them are big and well established having a very long history. Some of them are small. Some are young and they have a short period of history. No matter which group or faction it is, the origin is almost the same and there are so many similarities in the main concept although we find a slight difference reflected in the way of floral arrangements.

Among uncountable number of Ikebana schools, we often hear following names:

Ikenobo, Koryu, Sogetsu-Ryu, Ohara-Ryu, Misho-Ryu, Saga-Goryu, Enshu-Ryu. It is said that Ikenobo is the oldest school of Ikebana and its foundation goes back to approximately 500 years ago (although the origin of Ikebana goes back to the 6th century).

In addition to above mentioned schools, there are uncountable number of schools and it is difficult (and MAY not make sense) to decide which is better and which is more influential because from person to person the way they evaluate floral art is different.

A well established school has so many "derivatives" which were formed by artists who span off from the original group and started their own new group. It looks like new groups have been born in an amicable way of spinning off. A big and well established school does have well over 100 "derivative" schools and most of newly established schools are usually named after the master (original) school. Therefore their school name often uses part of their master school's name. That is why it is usually easy to find the historical background behind the foundation of newly born schools.

According to my perception, some Ikebana instructors learned European floral designs as well and adopted this new designing method and concept in their arranging style. This has been contributing to the development of Japanese floral art especially after 1980's. And they have been teaching this new designs to their students and helping promote new arrangements which were newly created from the mixture of Japanese and European floral arts.

Getting back to the system of school, we can find the same situation in the concept of school and its "derivatives" in most of Japanese traditional art such as the art of Ninja, Japanese swordmanship ("Kendo" in Japanese), the art of tea ceremony ("Sado" in Japanese) or Japanese traditional classical dance ("Nihon-Buyo" in Japanese) and Japanese calligraphy ("Shodo" in Japanese) whatsoever. Throughout a long history of art since they were born, lots of students who mastered the art and graduated from an original school established new schools under their own name.

The above is the situation about Ikebana School in Japan and this may explain the reason why there are uncountable number of floral artists and flower arrangement schools as well as flower design instructors in Japan.

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