Focus on Ohara

The First Headmaster of the Ohara School, Unshin Ohara, is recognized as the originator of a well respected ikebana form developed in 1895 called Moribana. The Ohara School also introduced the suiban, or low bowl container, which accommodated the colorful flowers arriving from the west. The Moribana form is accepted and practiced widely throughout this art form. Ohara has over 20 different styles of which a few are displayed below by several NCAR Sensei.
If you wish to submit a picture of an arrangement for this page, please send your arrangement photo with details as to the style of the design, materials used, your Ohara rank and I.I. chapter affiliation to

This arrangement by San Diego chapter member, Pui Lang , Assoc. 2nd Master, was made into a video by Patricia Fuchs

This is a design learned in the first few certificates of Ohara, entitled Hana-Isho, Rising Form. Ellen Weston, Miami Chapter, created this arrangement.

Plant Materials: Foxtail lily, roses and sword fern

This design, by Hiroki Ohara, current headmaster of the Ohara school, was created in celebration of Chrysanthemum Festival on Sept. 9. It is a traditional method in color scheme moribana with three varieties of chrysanthemums. 

This is a Radial style Ohara arrangement by Carolyn Alter, Portland Chapter, one of our virtual sensei.
Radial is a contemporary flower design form showing the beauty of materials reaching out to the right and left. It may be made in any type of container or vase. It is the closest Ohara ikebana to western type arrangements.

Plant Materials: Aspidistra, rosemary, yarrow and allium

Rimpa style by Marjorie DaVanzo, New York and Miami Chapters, another virtual Ohara teacher.

Plant Materials:

One Row is a contemporary flower design form showing the beauty of materials lined up in a row. One is free to combine materials based on their color, shape or texture.

This arrangement is by Carolyn Alter, Portland Chapter.

Plant Materials: Siberian irises (2 colors), yarrow, Chinese bell flower greens and globe gilia

Water reflecting style by Marjorie DaVanzo, New York and Miami Chapters.

Plant Materials:

This Ohara style, Hanamai, was created by the most recent headmaster, Natsuki Ohara, the father of the current headmaster, Hiroki. It is taught when you are close to receiving your Instructor Certificate.

Design created by Ellen Weston, Miami Chapter.

Plant Materials: Foxtail fern and sunflower


Shohinka – ‘Moon Viewing Arrangement’

Shohinka arrangements, heika or moribana styles are of plant materials chosen for their seasonal qualities used in small quantities. Elegance of plant materials and container are emphasized.

The ‘Moon Viewing’ arrangement honors the lunar calendar “Jusanya” on or about September 13th, the full moon of autumn. Japanese families place altars on their verandas where the moonlight falls and make offerings of food, fruit, flowers and the autumn grasses. Poems are composed for this occasion and appropriate stories are told in the light of the moon. Designer – Sibbie Wilson

Plant Materials: Buckberry Branches, Chrysanthemum – Fuji, Miscanthus.

This Bunjin arrangement is by Carolyn Alter, Portland Chapter.
Bunjin is a free expression arrangement that should have a Chinese, poetic and elegant taste to it. It is arranged in a Chinese style vase and elevated on a stand. The choice of materials are those that are from China and there is an underlying symbolic meaning depending on how the materials are combined. The 3rd headmaster, Houn Ohara, was inspired by the Southern Sung school of painting when developing this style in the 1960’s. 

Plant Materials: Juniper, monkshood and peony leaves

Realistic landscape by Carolyn Alter, Portland Chapters. This style is another free expression style of Moribana. The arrangers vision of landscape scenery is recreated in the small size of the container. This one shows a woodland habitat. Materials that grow in that habitat should be emphasized, however a material that is in season from another habitat may be used or a fictional element may be incorporated if it represents something like snow or mist. 

Plant materials:hydrangea, Siberian iris, lace leaf Japanese maple, ostrich fern and driftwood. 

Carolyn Alter, Portland Chapter created this Heika Slanting design using hydrangea and dusty miller.

Heika are made in tall vases and are based on the nageire “thrown into” concept of free arrangements that became popular with the general public as a more simplified ikebana in contrast to the complicated Rikka style in the 16th century. Ohara’s Heika styles have specific rules developed by the 2nd headmaster, Koun Ohara. We strive to make the material look as it grows naturally but even more beautiful.  

This circular form, Hano Isho, is an advance form taught when earning first certificates.

Ellen Weston, Miami Chapter, created this design using Sword fern, large and small chrysanthemums.