Heika, Chokuritsu-kei (Upright Style)
Upright Style in a vase

What is heika?

Whereas Moribana originated and was developed by the Ohara School, Heika, literally “vase flowers” has evolved from an arrangement style that has a long history in ikebana. That arrangement style is called nageire-bana in Japanese, literally, “thrown in flowers.” The Heika of the Ohara School is a modern interpretation of this style.

In the long history of ikebana, there have been two distinct trends. One is called kata (fixed styles) and is based on fixed forms and rules. The other is freely improvised ikebana and is based on the taste and aesthetic sensibility of the arranger. Types of ikebana based on kata, are generally referred to by the historical names of the individual styles themselves. These include tatehana, rikka, and seika. On the other hand, the trend that does not have fixed styles is generally called nageire-bana. The distinguishing characteristic of nageire-bana is the attitude towards materials: they are arranged in a vase so that their natural inherent beauty is not repressed, but rather, their natural beauty and elegance is emphasized. It is an approach to ikebana born from the most fundamental connection between humans and nature.

The Heika of the Ohara School was built on this tradition, and in particular, on the tastes of people referred to as bunjin, writers and artists of the Edo period (1600-1867), who put supreme importance on elegance and beauty in daily life. With the bunjin spirit as its guide, the Ohara School developed the Heika as a sophisticated form of ikebana that incorporates a modern sensibility suited to the places where people live and work. This background explains why the terms Heika and nageire are sometimes used interchangeable.

Hiroki Ohara, (2015) Ikebana for Everybody, Ohara School, Koyosha Inc., Japan

In Heika arrangements, there are three principal stems: the Subject, Secondary, and Object. These three stems form the basic framework of the arrangement. The other stems, Fillers, are added to highlight and bring out the natural beauty of the three main stems.

Heika arrangements are arranged in tall containers like vases and pots. The materials are arranged and fixed in position using special techniques inherent to the Ohara School.

There are three types of Heika styles:
1. Keisha-kei (Slanting Style)
2. Chokuritsu-kei (Upright Style)
3. Kasui-kei (Cascading Style)

Chokuritsu-kei (Upright Style)
Subject length – 1.5 times the height of the vase, plus the length of the stem inside the vase
Secondary length – 2/3 the length of the Subject, plus the length of the stem inside the vase
Object length – 1/2 the length of the Subject, plus the length of the stem inside the vase

Positioning of Materials
The most important point in creating a Heika arrangement is the appearance of the base of the arrangement, the nejimari. If the base/mouth of the arrangement is untidy, you lose the beauty of the arrangement. So, the area for the arrangement of the materials is confined to 1/4 the mouth of the container as shown below. Arrangements created on the left side are called Hon-Gatte. Arrangements created on the right side are called Gyaku-Gatte. Arrangements made in Gyaku-Gatte are mirror images of those made in Hon-Gatte, with the rules regarding the positioning of the stems, their angles, and directions being the same.

Placement of materials
The Subject (red line) is inserted in the vase leaning slightly forward and slightly to the outside edge (up to 15°).
The Secondary (green line) leans forward 60° and swings to the outside edge 30°.
The Object (blue line) leans forward 80° and extends straight out to the front.

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