Numerous different ikebana schools exist, and the discipline has encouraged collectors to pick up interesting yakimono vessels to pursue it. Moribana refers to what some people call heaped-up flowers. Artists who trained in the moribana school put a good deal of emphasis on naturalistic landscape designs.

Most moribana designs are placed in small vases that look like dishes. Unshin Ohara developed the style. Unshin is perhaps better remembered for creating the eponoymous Ohara school in the early 20th century.

Japanese ikebana with several different plants in a yakimono container

Ikebana Pieces may Include Various Types of Plant Materials Presented in Symmetrical or Asymmetrical Balanced Fashions

Moribana pieces are often referred to as nageire, which descirbes their spontaneous and fresh style. Ohara pieces make their homes in tall narrow vases. These flower arrangements are related to the shoka and heika movements, which are usually considered free and informal, compared to the far more ritualistic rikka pieces of the past.

At one point any arrangement that differed from the stylized temple designs had the name nageire applied to it. Lavish arrangements during the 17th century changed this opinion, and most modern arrangers have a very different view today. Ohara’s work is comparatively modern. Most other major ikebana schools that have a strong traditional basis are rather old.

Miniature landscape gardens called bonkei are a popular past time for those who trained in the moribana arts. Some people may descirbe bonkei as a sort of living ikebana, and it has developed into its own independent field of art. Particularly skilled bonkei artists will add ceramic figures to their scenes. Some of these can get really impressive, and the artists will make their relatively small plants look huge by placing tiny ceramic people nearby.

Zen’ei ikebana might be the most dramatic of the design schools. Several fine art critics who were lead by Sofu Teshigahara established it in the early 1930s. Having found the Sogetsu school in 1927, Sofu went on to work in the field of avant-garde flower arranging. This must have been something of a large change, but the seeds of change had already been planted in the previous school.

Small tabletop Japanese ikebana floral arrangement

Even Among Modern Artists Simple Ikebana Designs in Yakimono Vessels are Considered Praiseworthy

Designs following zen’ei rules of thought shove aside the classical system. Zen’ei artists often ignore natural placement of materials. They also generally don’t select yakimono vases based purely on the idea of creating harmony with the rest of the arrangement. Rather, they pick them purely on their intrinsic aesthetic values.

Some of these designs are supposed to be shocking. Without a background in art appreciation, the untrained eye might not view them as such. Zen’ei pieces can look just as beautiful as any other style. Nevertheless, those who have a background in the art of ikebana might find a zen’ei arrangement to be delightfully unusual.

Modern artists will sometimes repurpose different containers for various purposes. Some people look for unusual yakimono pieces to build an ikebana around. In some cases this can go with the traditional idea that the floral arrangement should be in perfect calm harmony with the container that holds it. On the other hand, a few people have tried really unusual combinations. To those who are particularly enamored with fine art, these unusual pieces may arouse some fairly strong feelings in them.