Sogetsu Ikebana arrangement "Wind" by Ekaterina Seehaus

Essential Japanese vocabulary for Ikebana students

A helpful list of 70 Janapese terms frequently used in Ikebana (downloadable in PDF format)

When I started learning Ikebana Japanese words Kenzan, Moribana and a few others entered my world. It was fun and it felt exotic. It also gave some subtle sense of belonging to a group connected by a distant, unfamiliar language.

There is some tribal feeling in having a special language. It does not even have to be a foreign language. Often it is a language of a professional group or an abbreviated language of a big company.  I could talk about it for a long time… If you joined a new company and you hear a sentence consisting of 7 words, 5 of which are acronyms, you do wan to learn the “local language” very fast. Trust me, I know from my experience how knowing the a group language makes you either fit in or alienates you if you do not master it. Back to Ikebana.

When I just began with Ikbebana I was not temped to start taking lessons of Japanese. Still I wanted to use the right terms and I wanted to pronounce them right. After a few months of studying our teacher gave us a list of essential Japanese vocabulary used in Ikebana. Since then whenever I came across a new word I added it to this list. Luckily my teacher is Japanese so I could always check with her if I got the pronunciation and the translation right.

Preview of the PDF document with 70 Japanese terms useful for ikebana students

And sometimes it is more than just translation. You need an explanation of the concept, which does not exist in English or in your culture. In my list of Japanese vocabulary for Ikebana  I did not go as far as writing up stories to give context for understanding the words. But recently I started accumulating articles and videos illustrating some of the unfamiliar concepts. I hope one day I can issue an update to the list with some multimedia links.

For now I decided to share with the Ikebana Web followers my current version of the Japanese vocabulary for Ikebana students. You can view it on-line or use a secure download (3 page PDF file).

Are there any other Ikebana terms you would like to add to the list? I would love to hear from you.