This is a resource page for those who are interested in joining  the Japanese Aesthetics: From Ikebana to Contemporary Art at the RMIT University Short Courses, Melbourne, Australia. Due to time limitations we have to focus only on the aesthetic aspects of Ikebana in the course, but Ikebana has fascinating history, with environmental, ethical and spiritual aspects.

Hopefully the resources here will not only supplement your Ikebana study but also encourage you to study Ikebana further. You can study Ikebana with Shoso or other teachers or via the internet at Ikebana Dojo.

If you have already some experience in Ikebana, the resources here will help you deepen your understanding of Ikebana.

Basic Ikebana Aesthetics

Shoso has been teaching Japanese Aesthetics at RMIT since 2013. The course focuses on:
1. how to translate Ikebana Aesthetics into design principles in terms of basic art and design theories,
2. how to apply the Ikebana principles to art projects apart from Ikebana.

Shoso has identified 4 important principles in the essence of Ikebana Aesthetics: balance, movement, contrast and pattern. The basics of these 4 principles are discussed in simple terms in the following short posts. In the RMIT course, we use these principles to analyse many Japanese designs and artworks. Shoso developed the Ikebana Aesthetics Curriculum based on his research and teaching experience at RMIT. The online course, Ikebana Aesthetics Program in Ikebana Dojo is based on the curriculum.
Balance 1
Movement 1
Contrast 1
Pattern 1

History of Ikebana

The history of Ikebana is a fascinating area of study that has not been explored sufficiently. When society changed, Ikebana changed. Studying the history of Ikebana gives you a deeper understanding of Japanese culture and society.
Brief History of Ikebana, Shoso Shimbo (2013)
Ikebana in English: Bibliographical Essay, Shoso Shimbo (2014), International Journal of Ikebana Studies, Vol.2, pp.99-106

Ikebana as Spiritual Training

In the traditional Japanese arts, there is no gap between artistic training and spiritual training. Daisetz Suzuki (1964, 2010) discussed that aspect from the Zen point of view. I think it is also possible to explain the connection between art and spirituality from the Shinto tradition where beauty (aesthetics) is connected to rightness (ethics). For instance, the idea of Kotodama teaches us that a pure heart is connected to pure language we use. In short, if your heart is pure and clean, your artistic expression, for instance Ikebana, as well as your language is pure and beautiful. That is the most important value in Shinto. An impure mind produces nothing but impure language and impure Ikebana.
Ikebana and Shinto, Shoso Shimbo (2008)
Zen and the Way of Flower, Shoso Shimbo (2007)
How to Learn Ikebana, Shoso Shimbo (2021)   

Ikebana and Environmental Ethics

It seems that there is a gap between environmental aesthetics and environmental ethics in the West (Bannon, 2011). However, as mentioned above, aesthetics and ethics are inseparable in Ikebana. Some aspects of Ikebana may be interesting for those who are looking into the function of environmental art.
Environmental Art as Public Art, Shoso Shimbo (2020), UNESCO Journal.     

Basic Japanese Aesthetics

Some students of our RMIT course may be interested in reading further on Japanese aesthetics. There are so many resources available. Following are some of good starting points.
Wabi Sabi - Wikipedia

About Ikebana Dojo

About Dr Shoso Shimbo

Shoso Shimbo, Official Site
Shoso Shimbo, Academia
Shoso Shimbo, Solo Exhibition (You Tube)
Shoso Shimbo, eBook (Aus $14.99 for iPad format)


Bannon, B. E. (2011). Re-Envisioning nature: The role of aesthetics in environmental ethics. Environmental Ethics, 33 (4), 415 - 436.

Shinto - Wikipedia

Suzuki, D. (1964, 2010). Zen and Japanese culture. Princeton University Press.