Friday, 4 September 2009

Ohara School, a brief introduction 2.

In the last blog I wrote a brief introduction to the Ohara School.
I had two questions: one from a friend asking what I meant by styles showing water.
The other question was in the comments about Houn Ohara's exhibition after World War II.

To answer the first question, in the past ikebana arrangements were made in copper container or other vases in an upright style. With moribana in a shallow container a larger surface of water can be seen.

Rabbit ear iris, pinks and St. John's wort with the water surface showing
At a workshop on the 14th of June 2009.

So as was said before the 1st Headmaster of the Ohara School, Unshin Ohara introduced the moribana style.
The second Headmaster Koun gave lessons in a classroom using a blackboard to explain. He also had a radio program. He introduced many innovative ways of teaching.
Now, to answer the second question, the third Headmaster Houn made a big arrangement in the show window of Daimaru department store in 1945, just after the end of the World War II. It was with the back ground of the painter Kakuzo Inoue. The material was a fig tree charred from the war, upside down with the roots at the top and with red flowers. The arrangement was significant by giving hope and lifting up the spirit of those who saw it.
His student Mrs. Ellen Gordon Allen received her certificate in 1951. After leaving Japan, she came back and founded Ikebana International in 1956.
Houn Ohara was good friends with other flower masters, especially the Headmaster of the Sogetsu School.
One way of securing flowers in a shallow container is by using a pin holder (kenzan), another way can be done using a holder called shippo.

Rabbit ear iris and cow lilly

Closer view of the shippo holders


  1. Dear Nadia, thank you for the post!

    Since you know the histories, I have few questions:

    Which school did Ohara branch out? Is it Ikenobo? And where did Sogetsu School branch out? I had impression that Sogetsu School founder Sofu and Houn are related, how? I am interested in their stories.

    I did not know Mrs. Ellen Gordon Allen was an Ohara student.

    I noticed that most of Ohara school arrangements use traditional materials, is there a rule for how to choose materials?



  2. Unshin Ohara had studied Ikenobo and when he had an exhibition and put the name of Ikenobo school. He was told that this new style was not Ikenobo, this is when Ohara School started.
    Sogetsu was more an avant-garde, modern school. Houn and Sogetsu school headmaster were very friendly.
    There are rules for materials and I will go into that.

  3. Thank you!

    Unshin Ohara story is interesting.

    I am looking forward to your follow up writing about Ohara school. Will you also explain to use the whole pots in the arrangement as I saw in Tokyo? Thank you.

  4. Yes, I think they try to do it to be more ecologically friendly. I did that too because sometimes for a big arrangement you can hide the pot.