Who Founded Ikebana International

Among those who learned ikebana while living in Japan was Mrs. Ellen Gordon Allen, the wife of General Frank Allen.

The United States National Arboretum website introduces Mrs. Allen as below.

“She was captivated by the philosophical and aesthetic elements of ikebana that stressed harmonic relationships. Mrs. Allen earned her Teachers Certificate from the Ohara School and began teaching ikebana.

She turned her mimeographed lessons into a small book, Japanese Flower Arrangement: A Complete Primer, which saw a number of printings. As she taught, she became determined to share her passion for this traditional art form throughout the world.

In 1956, she worked with ikebana school masters in Tokyo to found Ikebana International. She dreamed of spreading the practice of ikebana, believing that its principles would help foster greater world peace. She stated the organization’s motto as “Friendship through Flowers.” Mrs. Allen returned to Washington, D.C., and helped found Chapter No. 1.”

Ikebana International (I.I.) had only 1 chapter with 20 members when Mrs. Allen founded it. Sixty years later, now there are over 7,600 members with 161 chapters in over 50 countries!

Each chapter is affiliated with the head quarter but has its own activities. The Seattle Chapter #19, of which I’m a member, was chartered in 1959, and currently there are almost 100 members. Its activities include demonstration of flower arranging, exhibitions, lectures/programs on related arts, tours, and workshops where one can study Ikebana under the direction of various school Masters.

Its public exhibitions include Northwest Flower and Garden Show in February, Cherry Blossom Festival in April, Annual Exhibition in May, Japan Fair in July, Japan Week in the fall.

The I.I. Seattle Chapter #19 members voluntarily place ikebana arrangements at the Seattle Art Museum all year round.

There may be an Ikebana International chapter in your city. Would you like to know if there is a chapter in your city? Here is the list of current chapters around the world. Please check it out!

As a member of Ikebana International myself, I thank Mrs. Allen for founding this wonderful organization.

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