Ikebana International has 165 chapters of their wonderful organization in sixty different countries around the world. They’ve been in existence since 1956, and were initially founded in Japan. Their branch in New York holds a full exhibition once a year in the metropolitan area. Amazingly it opened only one year after the original branch in Tokyo.

The organization has over 8,500 members and uses English as the official language. As their motto suggests, Ikebana International is devoted to fostering friendship around the world through decorative floral arrangements.

Japanese ikebana floral arrangement

An Ohara School Basic Arrangement in a Flat Suiban Container, Photo Credit: Ikebana International

Anyone familiar with Ikebana is well aware of the fact that it’s about more than mere aesthetics, however. There are literally several hundred different Ikebana schools, and the organization links to several in New York alone.

The New York chapter of Ikebana International is particularly traditional. They refuse to use artificial flowers, but they do accept that dried materials can be used in arrangements. Sometimes even dried fruits and vegetables will make their way into an interesting arrangement.

According to their notes, some of their modern free-style arrangements will actually feature inorganic materials. While glass and metal can be unique, they might shock some hardcore traditionalists. Nevertheless, the organization doesn’t grant awards and they don’t judge exhibition arrangements. The art is not meant to be competitive at all.

Considering how fragile individual floral arrangements can be, it’s hard to transport them. As a result the organization doesn’t really sell arrangements, though individuals can be hired to do work on site. In some cases this can be done for free. Regardless, the exhibitions are what really make the New York chapter so great.

Japanese style floral arrangement in small dish

This Ohara School Arrangement Uses a Small Ceramic Dish for a Vessel; Photo Credit: Ikebana International

On October 1 the group will be featuring a flower show with Kumiko Kato of the Sogetsu School at the Nippon Club in New York City. They’ll be having workshops with her the next day. On December 11 the group will be featuring three separate schools of ikebana art. Masako Gibeault of the Rysei Ha school and Yoko Harnik of the Ichiyo school will be demonstrating the elements of their respective styles.

Tentative dates for a bonsai show in February have been set. For that matter, they’ve planned an Ichiyo school demonstration with Elain Jo of Atlanta, Georgia for April. The group always has something going on, so a quick check of the calendar there can be really useful. Perhaps some people might get lucky and see a classical yakimono vessel get reused as an interesting holder for an ikebana arrangement.