Wisdom from The Book of Flowers (Sogetsu School of Ikebana)


Even the most taciturn of flowers speak, and people can make use of them to engage in conversation…always facing flowers with candor and listening to what they say. The heart must open wide to do this.


There is the flower and there is the vase. We need the vase because we have the flower. The type of vase determines the flower. They both necessitate and determine each other.


Flowers have a front and a back. The side meant for viewing is the front, and the side not seen is the back.


There is absolutely nothing beautiful about wilted flowers - they should never be allowed to do so. However there are many beautiful varieties of dried flowers, branches and grasses.


Setting flowers in an offhand and easy manner is not simple. It takes a great deal of skill and training to be able to create a carefree illusion.


In just one flower or one leaf resides a multitude of possibilities.


Line and mass have to be created. That’s why it is important to work on and master both aspects.


Branches consist mostly of lines; both necessary and superfluous. In order to emphasize the necessary lines, you have to discard all the superfluous and conflicting ones.


Curves are the defining characteristic of all organic materials.


Above all it is important to remember that more flowers do not make for a more beautiful work.


The mystery of “less” is important. It is vital to take scissors in hand to cut and eliminate.


The more you use scissors, the more they become part of you.


Only those who enjoy something can learn about it.


We all have latent possibilities which remain dormant until some opportunity, like seeing someone else’s work, awakens them.


No matter what the artistic discipline, the key to improvement is contact with those who are more advanced than you.


There are many things you will never understand if you don’t participate in exhibitions.


You can profit greatly by showing your work to others.


Sometimes it is difficult to judge whether your own work is good or bad. Sometimes we become overconfident or other times we lose all confidence. Nonetheless, by showing you work, hearing what other students say and hearing what your teacher has to say can be extremely helpful building up your confidence.


Sometimes you get a sudden inspiration, or sometimes, you don’t know what you’re going to do until you begin working.


The highest expression of human nature is the joy of creating.


There is blessedness in crying for beauty.
There is blessedness in yearning for beauty.
There is blessedness in serving beauty.
There is blessedness in creating beauty.

Teshigahara Sofu (1900-1979)
Born in Tokyo as the eldest son of a traditional ikebana master, Sofu studied ikebana under his father before breaking away and creating the Sogetsu School. The Sogetsu style stresses individual creativity and experimentation over the set traditional forms and styles, and Sofu was able to expand ikebana from its traditional settings into contemporary spaces. His efforts helped increase ikebana’s popularity not only in Japan but throughout the world.