Origin of Ikebana
Origin of Ikebana may be traced back to remote antiquity where ever-green trees such as sakaki were considered as dwelling place of god. And in some primitive folklore religion, trees and flowers were dedicated to dead persons for the purpose of comforting the soul of them. After the introduction of Buddhism into Japan ( around A.D.680 ) customs of dedicating trees and flowers at the alter has gradually developed and in Heian era (794-1185) style of Ikebana as an objective of appreciation or enjoyment was established.
In Muromachi era (1338-1573), thanks to the national policy of art promotion taken by successive Shoguns including famous Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, cultural activities such as nogaku and tea ceremony became popular. As a part of these activities, a new architectural style of Shoinzukuri appeared in this era. Shoinzukuri house is the origin of contemporary Japanese houses, ,having a room with an alcove, shelves and a study. Flowers were displayed mainly at the fixed place of the alcove, instead of the so far used movable place of wooden plate or desks. Flowers at the alcove urged the birth of the oldest style of flower arrangement Tatebana (flower erecting).
Birth of Nageire and Seika
Tatebana matured in Azuchi-Momoyama era (1573-1600). On the other hand Nageire (throw-in) emerged in this era. Flowers at the tea ceremony was also arranged in this manner. In Edo era (1603-1867), Tatebana was at its peak and the style was sophisticated further. However, simpler Nageire was more popular among the people rather than somewhat complicated Tatebana. A certain degree of formality was also required even for Nageire, to be decorated at an alcove. Thus intermediate style of Tatebana and Nageire emerged and its style was established in the latter part of Edo era. This style of flower arrangement, currently called Ikebana or Kakubana, possessing formality together with simplicity become very popular and gave birth to various schools.
Meiji Restoration and the decline of Ikebana
At the end of Edo era, after a few years of civil war, political power of Japan transferred from the then Shogun Yoshinobu Tokugawa to the Emperor in 1867.This is the beginning of Meiji era (1868-1912). With the rise of national tide of civilization and enlightenment in the early Meiji era,tendency to make light of the traditional culture prevailed among the people. Affected by this tendency, popularity of Ikebana as a whole declined in this era.
Birth of Nihonkoryu School
Mansaku Tsunoda,father of Icchu Tsunoda (founder and first head master of Nihonkoryu), worked at a village office for more than 20 years, as well as engaging in agriculture and sericulture. He had a strong interest in politics and science. On the other hand, he pursued the beauty of Ikebana mathematically and geometrically, leaving many literature in scrolls. Suggested by his father, Icchu Tsunoda started learning Ikebana at the age of 9 by attending first at Shofu Enshu School (7 years) and later at Aoyama Onryu School (4 years). He studied hard and mastered the secrets of Ikebana.
Then in 1900 he founded a new Ikebana school at Kofu, Yamanashi prefecture by the name of Koshinzan Koryu. His motto was " Ikebana is the spiritual reflection of oneself ". Later in 1914, he moved to Tokyo and changed the school name to Nihonkoryu. He died in 1938 at the age of 54.
His son Minoru Tsunoda (Icchu Tsunoda the Second) succeeded to the Iemoto of Nihonkoryu at the age of 34. Besides his busy activities as the head master of Nihonkoryu, he wished the prosperity of the Ikebana world as a whole. He endeavored to establish a metropolitan association of Ikebana "Ikebana Kyokai" and later a nationwide association of Ikebana schools "Ikebana Geijutsu Kyokai". He served in those associations as executive directors for many years. In 1980 he was decorated by Japanese government in recognition of his activities.He died in 1985 at the age of 81.
His wife Kikue (Icchu Tsunoda the Third) succeeded to the Iemoto at that year and in year 2000 she resigned the post because of her advanced age.
And her daughter Isshu Araki succeeded to the Iemoto as Icchu Tsunoda the Forth. She is also serving as directors in various Ikebana associations together with activities as Iemoto of Nihonkoryu.