Kids Web Japan

Types of Ikebana: Moribana

The Characteristics of Moribana

Moribana uses a shallow container and a kenzan, a holder with many sharp points into which flowers are inserted. The big feature of moribana is the broad expanse of natural-looking shapes and a mound of beautiful flowers.

Flowers: Keio-zakura, iris, and Solomon's seal (Ohara School)
This moribana piece displays the seasonal beauty and colors of spring. The arrangement takes full advantage of the Keio-zakura's branches as they spread naturally outward.

Enjoy a Free-form Arrangement

While the heika style was developed many centuries ago and has a lot of rules, moribana has only been around since the Meiji period (1868–1912) and is a relatively free style. Western flowers can be used, for instance, and the arranged flowers may be placed in Western-style rooms and entranceways — not just in the tokonoma, the alcove of traditional Japanese-style rooms.

Each school defines its own fundamental forms, and specifies guidelines for the key lengths and angles of branches to be used for each form. Here, we will introduce one example of a moribana arrangement using the chokuritsu (upright) form used at the Ohara School.

Flowers: Lotus, Japanese rose, and karukaya (Ohara School)
This piece uses lotuses to evoke ponds and their surroundings during the summer.

There are different types of moribana depending on the length and angle of the primary, secondary, and ornamental stems. The upright style is the most common; it exudes a feeling of stability and gravity. In this style, the primary stem is about as long as the diameter and depth of the container combined, with the secondary stem being around two-thirds and the ornamental stem about half the length of the primary stem.

The primary stem (subject) is placed vertically, while the secondary stem is tilted 45 degrees and scattered over a 30-degree area to the front and left. The ornamental stem (object) is tilted 60 degrees and placed across a 45-degree area to the front and right. Seen from above, the three stems form a right triangle. Flowers are placed inside this triangle to fill out the shape.