What is Ikebana?
Ikebana is the representation of the Japanese love of nature, tranquility and perfection. The beauty of a flower arrangement lies in its asymmetrical balance, respect for the individual flower and harmony with nature as a whole. It is more than simply putting flowers in a container. It is a disciplined art form in which the arrangement is a living thing where nature and humanity are brought together.
The custom of appreciating flowers in a vase probably dates back almost to the birth of the human race. Involved in this custom is the human characteristic of loving and adoring the beautiful. In this regard, there is no difference between East and West. In Japan, however, arranging flowers is considered to be an art form and, indeed, a way of life called kado (ka=flower; do=way or path).
Like any art form, ikebana is an endless study. A Japanese flower master devotes his/her lifetime to it. The necessary abilities and skills are not acquired in a hurry. It is a multi-dimensional art and continual practice is needed in order to progress. You can learn the principles quickly, but only time and experience will train your eye for the exquisite and unique beauty of ikebana design.
Nevertheless, with the guidance of a qualified ikebana instructor, you can make pleasing arrangements right from the start. Most schools offer a series of certificates of proficiency to document your advancement; it usually takes one or more years to earn any certificate.