The art of Japanese flower arrangement, or ikebana (生花), is said to have taken form during the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), although its precise origin is still unknown. Due to its long history and its image for being a highly technical form of artistic expression, an increasing number of people are becoming distanced from the art altogether, and general knowledge of it is diminishing.

What many people aren’t aware of is that Japanese flower arrangement is continuing to evolve through the various styles that stem from the traditional schools of ikebana. Perhaps one of the most “progressive” styles is the Ryuseiha (龍生派), which derives from the traditional Iemon (家元) style.

A fusion of traditional and modern, Ryuseiha is a freestyle form of flower arrangement in which artists are free to use whatever sort of materials they feel will best suit their work. From bleached plants, plastic, and even pipes, there are no restrictions on the artists’ forms of expression.





Early in May, 2016, the Ryuseiha School held an exhibition in Tokyo that presented a vast display of vivid, dramatic arrangements from artists throughout the world. The 4-day event, which featured the creations of artists from countries including Japan, America, and Singapore, was the first large exhibition held in the big city, and allowed visitors the chance to be exposed to the relatively new freestyle form of Ryuseiha flower arrangement.

A total of 750 works were entered for the exhibition, of which 630 were displayed at the event.






The style of the Ryuseiha School of ikebana is far from traditional. Following the philosophical approach they call the "Aspect of Plants," artists compose works without the limitations of set rules of composition. By perceiving the flora through those various aspects, faces, or perspectives that they possess, the artists utilize a wide range of materials and forms of execution to complete their work.

But it would be inaccurate to say that Ryuseiha flower arrangements are free of any kind of limitations. As is the case with all arrangements, every creation must be completed within the structure of the plant and its vase (used in the broadest sense of the word). Although they can be cumbersome to work with, the limitations also teach the idea that nothing can be expressed by the ideas of the artists alone.





As comparison, arrangements from the traditional styles of ikebana, which they also had on display at the event, look like this:



Fusing Flower Arrangement With Modern Technology

As a modern, innovative style of Japanese flower arrangement, Ryuseiha is always experimenting with novel ways to expand the range of their art. At the RYUSEI IKEBANA JAPAN event, they took to projection mapping to display a new form of flower arrangement, mixing the virtual world and reality to create works unlike any that have ever been created in the history of the art.

The belief is that there are realities that can only be expressed through virtual means, and parts of the virtual world that can only be seen through the real world. A flower arrangement can also be deemed virtual in the sense that various aspects of nature that are otherwise not found together are fused together, and that by transporting nature from its natural habitat and locations, artists are creating their own kind of virtual reality.

In addition to projection mapping, they also hosted live demonstrations of traditional ikebana, as well as a fusion of flora and the culinary world through an Ikebana × Cheese live demonstration. Using ingredients like mozzarella cheese, string cheese, zucchinis, and tomatoes, they ventured into uncharted (and delicious) territory of ikebana art.



It's an exciting time for the future of Ryuseiha, and they say their next endeavor is to add more movement to ikebana, in contrast to its hitherto static form. We can expect there to be more projects incorporating projection mapping, as well as unprecedented styles we would never have imagined traditional Japanese flower arrangement to evolve into. If you're looking for an outlet for your creativity, learning more about this modern style of ikebana could be your next best step.


Ryuseiha Official Website (Japanese and English)

By - grape Japan editorial staff.