Looking for a unique and creative alternative to the cliché of red roses this Valentine's Day? We've got you covered.
Introducing Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. While flower arranging might sound like your Great Aunt Mildred's idea of a good time, Ikebana is far from boring. In Japan, it is considered an art form on par with the likes of painting and sculpture.
Asymmetrical balance and minimalism are highly valued in Ikebana.
The practice of Ikebana began in Kyoto, Japan, more than 500 years ago, where it evolved out of the Buddhist ritual of offering flowers to the dead. Though there are several different schools of Ikebana, every arrangement consists of plant materials: branches, leaves, pods, blossoms, etc.
Buddhism and Japanese culture emphasize a deep connection with the natural world, and ikebana is believed to strengthen that connection. The late Sofu Teshigahara, a revolutionary 20th-century ikebana artist, described the art as "a clear example of perfect harmony between man and nature."
Teshigahara also stressed the universality of Ikebana, saying, "Ikebana can be done anywhere by anyone. There are no national or ethnic boundaries." So, essentially, you should make one for your valentine.
Most major cities are home to an Ikebana chapter, where you can take lessons and make your own arrangements. If you're on a time crunch pre-Valentine's Day or can't find a chapter nearby, however, you can look up some video tutorials online.
To get those creative juices flowing, here's some Ikebana inspiration: