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Ancient form of Japanese flower arranging leads students to find peace, nature

The Japanese art of flower arrangement is an ancient art form with the goal to help students find peace and beauty while connecting with nature.

'I call it a moving meditation, that why it's so peaceful'

Professor Mayumi Chino from the Ikenobo school in Kyoto, Japan is in Edmonton to give an Ikebana floral art workshop to a local study group. 1:37

The Japanese art of flower arrangement is an ancient art form with the goal to help students find peace and beauty while connecting with nature.

"Theoretically we are supposed to work in silence," says Jean-Marcel Duciaume, a teacher at the Edmonton Ikenobo Ikebana Study Group. 

"People arrive, they might be stressed by the work they have done, or this or that, and when they leave they feel much more relaxed and in contact with nature.
The primary difference between western flower arrangement and Ikebana is the use of space, says Mayumi Chino. (Rick Bremness/CBC)

"I call it a moving meditation, that why it's so peaceful."

However, the origins of the art form may have been less contemplative, Duciaume said. 

According to Duciaume, an early form of Ikebana dates back to the sixth century when Buddhism came to Japan.
Prof. Mayumi Chino demonstrates an ancient form of Japanese flower arrangement called Ikenobo Ikebana. (Rick Bremness/CBC)

Monks would offer flowers to Buddha, but began competing with one another as to who could offer the best floral arrangement, he said.

In the 1400s, monks wrote the first book on the Ikenobo school of floral art.

This week Duciaume's study group was honoured with a rare visit from a professor of the art form.

Mayumi Chino, a professor at the Ikenobo School in Kyoto, Japan, dropped in to inspire the group's students.

Chino said the difference between Ikebana and North American flower arrangement is one of space.

"Usually western arrangements has lots of flowers in there and sometimes you cannot see the space in between the flowers," she said.
Another example of a Ikenobo Ikebana floral arrangement. (Rick Bremness/CBC)

"Ikenobos see something between the flowers. In the space, sometimes (we) feel the wind and sometimes we see the rain."

Duciaume said working with Chino will leave a lasting impact on his students.

"The students see things in new ways. It excites them and prepares them to do more work. Once the professor is gone, they will be wanting to do more and learn more."
Students at the Edmonton Ikenobo Ikebana Study Group work on their floral arrangements. (Rick Bremness/CBC)