Forma, Vol. 14 (No. 4), pp. 355-361, 1999
Original Paper

A Comparison between Asymmetric Japanese Ikebana and Symmetric Western Flower Arrangement

Marie Moriyama and Megumi Moriyama

Department of French Literature, Graduate School of Keio University, Mita Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8345, Japan

(Received November 19, 1999; Accepted January 18, 2000)

Keywords: Ikebana, Asymmetry, Western Flower Arrangement, Created Order, Condensed Cosmos

Abstract. Ikebana, flower arrangement, is one of the traditional, highly appreciated arts of Japan. Even though "flower arrangement" is used in translation, there is a great contrast with Western style flower arranging. While the former has an asymmetric shape, the latter is based on symmetry. Why are they so different? What is the philosophy behind this? We would like to compare these two styles of flower arrangement and we hope to clarify the philosophy and spirit that supports these art forms. We will first talk about the history and cultural background of Ikebana, then the materials and the gardens (which can be regarded as flower arrangements on a large scale) of both Japanese and Western styles. Following on this, the spirit and religions that mold the asymmetry and the symmetry will be discussed.

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