Brief History of Ikebana

Ikebana is the ancient Japanese art of arranging flowers, documented as far back as 1486.   The art, and the companion discipline of kado, or the way of flowers evolved from the ritual of randomly thrown floral offerings to the spirits of the dead in the birthplace of Buddhism – India.  When Buddhism came to Japan during the 6th century via China, the flower practice came along with it.  By the 10th century, temple priests, who were primarily responsible for floral offerings started the use of containers.  Later with a  more  relaxed  attitude  towards  Western  culture  in  Japan,  the  world  started  to  witness  the  practice  of   ikebana  occuring not  only in  Japanese homes but  also around  the  world.


Origins of Banmi Shofu Ryu

 Banmi Shofu Ryu originated from Shofu Ryu, which, like all other Ikebana schools had roots from the first school of Ikebana Ikenobo.  Shofu Ryu, the parent school of Banmi Shofu Ryu  was one of  many  “modern”  Ikebana schools   that  emerged  during  the  15th   century,  straying  from   the  stricter  rules  of  ikenobo.    It  appealed to the European taste because of its clever adaptation of traditional kado principles to new (sic) Western conditions.  Its name translates to pine or living breeze, and Shofu creations express a spirit of naturalness, as effortless as the wind on the pines during a hot summer day.  True to its heritage, Banmi Shofu designs show both fluidity of line and fidelity to the way plants grow in nature – quite contrary to what images might come to mind when one considers that the founder of Shofu Ryu was a true, practicing samurai, (Oshikawa, 1939).    Its   rules  of ikebana  engagement originated  from published and translated  written  and oral traditions  handed  down by  Josui  Oshikawa, Bansui  Ohta, and Bessie Banmi Fooks.  To this  day Banmi  Shofu  traces  its  origin to Shofu  Ryu  and  sees  itself  as  its  contemporary  expression  with a  consistent  characteristic  use  of  driftwood  in  its  designs.

Complex Moribana by Bessie Banmi-sensei

Hallmark Banmi Shofu multiple moribana design by Bessie Banmi Fooks, using heirloom driftwood from Waialua, HI and the Philippines.  

Floral  and  line  materials include  heliconias,  three  varieties  of  torch  gingers, and  fennel.  Containers  include  three  small  and  one  large  ceramic  moribana  suiban.  Table  surface  is  covered  with  blue furoshiki. and dried seaweed.

Designs, Hanko, Connecting with the Founding Samurai

Double Hashibana Uate


A new iemoto has the responsibility of introducing something new shortly after installation; Ric Bansho introduced a new style, hashibana - which literally translates into flower bridge - symbolic of the connection between 5th century traditions and contemporary designs.  Hashibana is expressed in three designs: Hashibana Maru (globular); Uate (tall, narrow & wide); and Saba (short, narrow, and wide) all coming with very specific container requirements.  

Style: Hashibana Uate, an Emerging Banmi Shofu design but Steeped in 6th Century kaden
Container:  Z-Gallery Uate sitting on vintage Japanese golden brocade Black, Orange & White Football Chrysanthemums, Long Needled Pine, & Waialua Driftwood 

Samurai Spirit


Conforming with Tradition,
Flowing into Now

Through flowers, I  am  one with nthe founding Samurai.  He  was rough & aggressive, yet  tender & delicate with his kado.  Like it or not, legacy evolves.

Free -form  prose  as  in the  featured  example  provides a  means  of expression  for  the Banmi  Shofu  practitioner  with  an alternative  to  haiku  or  story  around  the  created  flower  design.  In  this  case,  it  is  Ric  Bansho‘s  ode  to  the  founding  samurai,  describing  how  he  channels  the  samurai‘s Zen  posture while   balancing  gentleness  and  strength  used in  battle.  



Banmi Shofu Ryu hanko evokes the spirit of its flower designs.  In evolving Shofu tradition into Banmi Shofu, Iemoto Bessie Banmi Fooks (1996) stated:  "I used natural materials in simple lines provoking movement and symbols that in turn achieved serenity and tranquility.

All  Banmi  Shofu Ryu  official  documents   and  certificates of  competence  and  artistry  come  with  this  honorable  stamp  of  iemoto  approval  as  well  as  the  iemoto’s  hanko.

More information about Banmi Shofu Ryu flower designs are available in  

Viewing Banmi Shofu Flower Designs


Banmi-sensei said, "I could view the designs from any angle.  They were simply the end product of a process that connected me spiritually with plant and driftwood materials.  This has been my experience that began in Japan years ago.  I continued to learn from Bansui Ohta sensei, and transplanted what I absorbed in Japan to Hawaii, and to the many places in the world where I traveled and connected with friends who love flowers. (Moribana Kansuike design by Ric Bansho-sensei created during a live demonstration in Tokyo's Art Laksy Gallery, 2014)



When creating flower designs, looking at flowers in their natural habitat allows a viewer to experience different perspectives of the same floral or line (stem, leaf or branch) material.  Sometimes the back is as poetic, if not more than the front, as shown in this pristine white Phalaenopsis against the teal tint of the pool water.

Driftwood Is Container Sometimes


Possibilities are limitless in Banmi Shofu ikebana - for example this Gendaika (freestyle) design by Dolly Tu-sensei from Taipei, the Republic of China features a large driftwood forming the base and container for two large Proteas, with smaller driftwood pieces intentionally placed to cradle cascading China Berry fruits - telling a story of contrast, comfort and beauty.