Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Origin of Ikebana

Kyoto is home to several ikebana schools. The Ikenobo school has a large building on the fashionable Karasuma street. Ikenobo is the largest of the traditional schools and it also claims to be the oldest school, tracing it's history back to 1462. Since then the teachings have been passed down in the Ikenobo family and the present headmaster Sen'ei Ikenobo is the forty-fifth in generation.

The headmaster is also head priest in the Rokkaku-do temple, a small temple building that is now located in-between the high business buildings of the area. The name Ikenobo means a humble hut by a pound. The pound isn't here any more, but there is an artificial pound in the open space between the buildings to mark that this is where the first priest of the Ikenobo family lived in a hut by a pound. The Rokkaku-do temple is where the the old rikka style of the Ikenobo school was invented in the late 15th century and further developed in the 17th century.

Outside the building there is a sculpture of a traditional rikka arrangement. Apart from this metal sculpture there aren't any traditional ikebana arrangements on display, but there is a very nice ikebana museum with old manuscripts, pictures of arrangements and a collection of old vases. The museum is small but well worth a visit and you'll need an appointment to see it so remember to contact them in advance.

The Ikenobo building has a large shop where they sell books, containers and ikebana utensils. There are also several similar ikebana shops in the area so this is a great spot for stocking up on things difficult to find other places.

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