Space 1 - Task

Ikebana Aesthetics Program - Zoom Ikebana Dojo 

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FacilitatorsShoso Shimbo & Shoan Lo 


Space refers to an expanse of three-dimensionality in which objects and events occur (positive), or in which there is nothing (negative). In the study of ikebana, it is very important to consider the relationship between negative space (the area between and around your materials), and positive space (where your materials and vase are).

First let’s focus on how to use negative space in your design. Negative space is an empty area surrounded and shaped so that it acquires form or volume. Pay attention to the area around, within, or between objects.

Negative space is often called Ma in Japanese art, though only if the negative space is really effective in creating poetry (see sample below). Not all negative spaces are Ma.  

Ma is hard to learn. There is no easy formula to learn it. Discussion about Ma tends to be philosophical, spiritual and sometimes almost mysterious.

Pine Trees, Tohaku Hasegawa (1595).

The good news is that all of you can learn it one day after some (a long) period of training. You will learn that what you created in positive spaces are important to make negative space around them effective. 

First, let's start meditating on the size of a negative space in your design. Create one negative space in your design; and observe the effect of the space by changing the size of it. 

Always be conscious of negative space in making ikebana. In general beginners of ikebana tend to use too much material and leave little negative space in their designs. Their works tend to be too much, too busy, too messy, too strong or too heavy, and consequently, has no poetry. 

Ask “can breeze go through my work?”. If you remember to ask that, that would be enough lesson for Space 1.  

For more about Space in Ikebana, refer to a short essay, "Introduction to Ikebana Aesthetics" by Dr Shoso Shimbo (available shortly in English & Japanese).

Objectives in Space 1 
1. Create a single negative space in the centre of your design. We will be making a 2-base arrangement.  
2. Learn how to interpret basic ikebana diagrams.  
3. Use moribana style (use kenzan, florist form or others for easy fixture). 
4. Change the gap between two bases. Notice the effect of the negative space. 

What You Need

  • secateurs
  • two kenzan or florist foam or wire packed container (see a task for Balance 1)
  • container – any low flat container, even a cup.
  • flower materials:
  • branch material - Black Sheoak
  • flower material - carnation 
  • flower materials / fillers - thryptomene 
Flower materials are guide only. You can choose any other materials as long as you focus on the topic. 

How to Make It

You will receive Space 1 Session Notes with step-by-step instructions for making your arrangement after your payment is received. Our free video and the Session Notes will help you make your ikebana work.  

How to Apply & Participate

Step 1 - Apply & Pay

(1) Visit our schedule page. The session on 9 April 2022 was fully booked. Thank you.  

(2) Please visit our orientation page for more practical advice on how to use Ikebana Dojo. 

(3) Upon receipt of your payment, we will send you an email of invitation to the session & session notes on how to make our sample work. 

Step 2 - Get Ready

(4) Do your assignment. Make your ikebana work before the session. 

(5) Take a photo of your work (less than 0.5 Meg.) and send to at least 24 hours before the session starts if you want detailed feedback.

(6) Alternatively, you can share the photo of your work during the session. Find a way to share your file using Zoom.

Step 3 - Join Dojo

(7) Join the session. Prepare your work and its photo. 

(8) Enjoy show and tell by other students before and after your own presentation. Group interaction is helpful for your learning. Works by others can inspire you. 

Step 4 - Rework

(9) Share a photo of your work to Ikebana Gallery Facebook Page. See how to apply for Ikebana Gallery Award if you are a student. 

(10) If you would like to join Zoom Ikebana Dojo again, please book from our schedule page. 

Samples for Advanced Students

Ikebana Aesthetics Curriculum