How to Create “Ma間” in Ikebana

Azalea is in full bloom in my yard, so I decided to cut out one of the branches and make an Ikebana – well, I ended up making three.

The first one is the featured photo.  Just like you expect tension in writing, you want some tension in Ikebana.  The contrast between mass and lack of mass is a good way to create tension.  On the left I placed a branch that has flowers rather scattered.  In the center I created a mass of flowers.  The horizontal line on the right is shorter than the one on the left, with more flowers.  Hopefully the contrast is created between the right and the left side.

The next two arrangements, I compared a photo before and after.

Let’s compare the two photos above.  The one on the left boasts many flowers but is just too busy.  By taking the flowers in the middle, ah! Now you have a breathing room.  The longest stem in the center all of a sudden shows a clean line going upward.  A nice “ma” is created.

What about these two above? 

The one on the left gives you somewhat choking, heavy impression.  Take out some flowers from the right branch, then the horizontal line is clearly shown.  Not only some lightness appears, but also…Density, sparsity, and density… Can you feel the rhythm?

One of the mantras I introduce to my Ikebana students is “less is more.”  There may be less flowers, but there is more space, which is a vital element for Ikebana.  Let’s not underestimate the power of space or “ma”!   

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