Choosing the right kenzan is the first step in Ikebana!
We will give you some tips!
Kenzan has an important role in ikebana which to support a whole work. You can improve your work by choosing a kenzan of right size, shape, and type.

Since there are many sorts of kenzan, you might be confused when you are choosing one for your work. We will give you the detail of each kenzan and tips to choose the right one!

Step 1: Choose a type kenzan

Kenzan can be roughly divided into three types: for branches (木物), for grass materials (草物), and for both branches and grass (草木兼用).

Regular kenzan is a one for branches. The kenzan for grass materials has more needles than the one for branches. Of course, it is depending on the size and shape, generally a kenzan for branches has about 370 needles, and a kenzan for grass materials has about 610 needles.

For a kenzan for both branches and grass, the needle of the center is made of hard materials to put branches, and the surroundings are thinner needles to put grass materials.

Step 2: Choose the shape of kenzan

Normally, kenzan is round shape, however there are also rectangular, square, or oval kenzan.

When you arrange Rikka or Shoka, you normally use a round kenzan. But there is no regulation for Free Style, and you can choose a kenzan which matches the vase you will use.

Step 3: Choose the bottom shape

There are two types one is flat, and the other is peg-top shape for the bottom shape of kenzan.

For basin or vase with kenzan holding shelf, choose a kenzan of flat bottom.

A peg-top shape is for a tall and slender vase.

You can attach kenzan stabilizing post to some of kenzan, but please note some kenzan of smaller size cannot attach the post. When you use the kenzan stabilizing post, you need to put pebble inside the vase.

Step 4: Choose the size

There are numbers on the name of kenzan like Kenzan #9. The number refers to the diameter of the bottom of kenzan in cm. So, you can see the size referring to the number of each kenzan.

For ikebana, kenzan must be inside water and invisible. If the size is too big to the vase, it will ruin the work.

We call the edge of vase and the flower arranged as “mizugiwa (water’s edge)” in Ikebana. It is required to show mimzugiwa tight and clean. Kenzan plays an important role in creating clean mizugiwa. You need to decide the size of kenzan with considering how much flowers you would use, how wide the flowers would be placed and so on.

Step 5: Check the height of Kenzan

When you arrange ikebana, the tip of kenzan needles should be 1.5cm lower than the edge of vase.
*At Ikenobo Central Institute of Ikebana, they teach to place kenzan to come 2cm lower the edge of the flower vase.

Step 6: Choose the color

Generally, we use the kenzan of golden color, but there are also black kenzan.

When you use black pebbles, you better choose a black kenzan.


Useful tools to maintain Kenzan

Kenzan Needle Rake
You can easily scrape out tiny dust get stuck inside the needles of kenzan.

Kenzan Pad
It can be a slip stopper of kenzan but also can protect the surface of flower vase to get scratch from kenzan.

Kenzan Needle Straightener
When you put thick branches to Kenzan, the needle might be tilted. In that case you can use this item to make the needle straight.

Vase Stabilizing Sinker
This item is to make kenzan stabilized when you are not using pebbles, but using this item kenzan itself can be heavier and stabilized.

Kenzan Raising Rubber Mat
This item is to adjust the height of Kenzan. This is a set of three rubber mat of slightly different thickness, and you can use various combinations.

These items are can be used instead of using kenzan to support flowers.

Mainly for Classic Rikka or Tatehana

Mainly for Shoka. Depending on the shape of vase you can use matagi with Douwa or Ishiana.

Oasis Floral Foam
For Free Style, Moribana or any flower arrangement. There are many choices of colors.

Tomekko Petit Kenzan
For a vase of small opening. You can use it for thin leaves.

Nekko Net
You can make this item as a part of your ikebana. You can cut into the right size of the vase.

Color ring
When you use a grass vase, this item might be perfect choice. You can change the shape easily.

History of Kenzan

In ikebana we use various way to support flowers. At the early stage of its history, people used rice straws or wood sticks to support flowers, and these skills are passed down through generations. Besides this traditional way, nowadays, we mainly use kenzan to support flowers.

It is said that the kenzan start to be utilized at the end of Meiji period (1868-1912) to the start of Taisho Period (1912-1926). There are many theories of who invented the kenzan at first. There are record of Choka Adachi, who learned Ikenobo Ikebana and start own ikebana school later, wad devoted to improving Kenzan in around 1914. Considering records, Kenzan was first invented in late Meiji Period, improved in Taisho Period and become to the shape that we use nowadays.

How kenzan are made

The kenzan we sell are all handmade, and each are made with time and effort. Let us show you how kenzan are made!

Put needles one by one to the mold, there are mold for each size.

Put needles on the whole hole, next to make the bottom part of the kenzan. Again, set to mold.

Then pour heated lead.

After the lead cooled and solidified, remove it from the mold.

Now the kenzan removed from the mold.

If there are burr on its bottom, they might be a cause of hurting people, so it needs to be removed.

At the end, put the rubber to prevent the kenzan to be slipped, and done!

Now you can see that kenzan is made of a lot of time and effort of craftsman.
However, it is said that when you arrange ikebana, you better try your best to not show a kenzan. Indeed, kenzan plays important role of supporting ikebana “from the shadows.”