About Ikebana - Shoka

Shoka style looks very simple but said to be the most difficult of all Ikebana styles. There are two types of Shoka. One is the classical Shoka Shofutai and more modern style of Shoka Shimputai.
Shoka style expresses the feeling of life, growing energy and the natural beauty of the materials. To achieve this it is important that the arranger understands how the plants grow in nature: the natural environment, characteristics and habitat.
Each plant species has its own particular characteristics known as "Shussho".  Shussho is considered to be different from the nature of plants.  This nature is something that all plants and flowers share, for example, "growing towards the sun".

shoka vase

A vase for Shoka is more than just a container but represents the source of life.  The vase will generally be symmetrical and open at the top, like the one used in this arrangement.  This is typical of the shape used for Shoka, as you will see from the other photos on this page. 

When viewed from the front, the stems should appear as a single vertical line from the water’s surface for the first 6-8cms. This is called Mizugiwa.

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Shoka Shofutai

Shoka Shofutai consists of three main parts or Yakueda called Shin, Soe and Tai. These yakueda symbolise the cosmos representing heaven, earth and human beings (Ten-Chi-Jin). 

Shoka Shofutai should bring out the Shussho according to the materials used and create an image of ideal beauty.

Shoka shofutai sanshu-ike
In general, Shin is two to three times the height of the vase. Soe is about two thirds the height of the Shin and Tai is about one third. When composed, the concept of In-Yo (sunny side-shady side) has to be considered.  Soe should always be placed at the sunny side.
Shoka shofutai peach Shofutai can be arranged using only one kind of material. This is called Isshu-ike (photo). Shofutai Isshu-ike best expresses the characteristics of the plant or flower.

Using two kinds (Nisshu-ike) emphasises the beauty of contrasting materials.

Using three kinds of materials (Sansyu-ike) emphasises the beauty of plant combination.
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Shoka Shimputai

Shoka Shimputai, is more adapted for our modern life style. Shimputai literally means "new wind style". It is similar in concept to Rikka Shimputai where the arranger can be more expressive because of the release from rigid set of rules and form seen in Shofutai.
For example, instead of having three main stems seen as in Shofutai, two contrasting main parts construct Shoka Shimputai.

These are known as Shu and Yo. Usually an additional stem called ashirai is used to complete an arrangement. The important factors to consider are contrasting colour, quantity and texture of the materials.

shoka shimputai banana
shoka shimputai rananculus The distinguishing characteristics of Shoka Shimputai are brightness and sharpness.  

Shoka Shimputai emphasises the unbalanced beauty whereas Shofutai expresses the well ordered (Shin:Soe:Tai proportion of 7:5:3) beauty.


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