The Legacy of Ikebana at Halekulani

Upon arrival to Hawaii, visitors enter a world of lush, tropical plants. Halekulani extends this floral journey with its dedication to ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging.

Ikebana is an art form that is a blend of nature and humanity. As such, Japanese flower arrangements are based on a triangle of three points, symbolizing heaven, earth and man, or in some other beliefs, representing the sun, the moon and earth.

Ikebana is not simply a collection of flowers, rather it emphasizes other aspects of the plant, such as its stems and leaves, highlighting the shape, line or color. The art form is meant to inspire closeness to nature, and in doing so, provide relaxation for the mind, body and soul.

Halekulani has been committed to the art of ikebana for 30 years. Nowhere on the property is this art more prominent than in the stunning arrangement in the center of the lobby The tradition of the lobby display started when the Halekulani reopened in 1984. Grand Master Hiroshi Teshigahara of the Sogestsu School of Flower Arrangement in Japan had recommended Mrs. Tanga Kamemoto, who attained the rank of “Riji,”the highest ikebana degree attainable, to handle the hotel’s floral arrangements.  

Mrs. Kamemoto was a sensei, a term of respect given to those have attained a level of mastery in an art form or skill, in this case, in the art of flower arranging. She created the distinctive arrangement in the Halekulani lobby and, along with her husband, refreshed it weekly.

Three years ago, a new sensei, Mr. Nakamura, updated the style of the distinctive lobby arrangements, making them more contemporary. “Every Friday, we change the flowers in the lobby,” says Irene Bacani, Manager of the Flower Shop. “The display, which consists of at least 45 pieces of large flowers, including anthurium, can take up to four hours to create.”  

Beyond the stunning lobby arrangement, the team produces beautiful bouquets throughout the week that reflect and celebrate the art of ikebana. For the renowned Sunday brunch at Orchids, Irene and her team create five tropical arrangements.

For La Mer, the flower shop makes 40 arrangements, twice a week.

Each room and suite also has its own flower arrangement. Irene and her team focus on white, spring flowers complementing the seven shades of white, Halekulani’s signature interior design.

Creating the arrangements is time-intensive work. Some of the larger displays throughout the property require an hour or more to craft. “We treat the flowers with care, because they bring us so much joy,” says Irene.

The flower shop continues the legacy of ikebana at Halekulani, adding more natural beauty to an already naturally beautiful location.