Japanese art of flower arranging. It was introduced in Japan in the 6th century by Chinese Buddhist missionaries, who had formalized the ritual of offering flowers to the Buddha. The first school of flower arranging in Japan was founded in the early 7th century. The art is based on harmony of simple linear construction and appreciation of the subtle beauty of flowers and natural material (branches, stems). Several major schools, with differing histories and theories of artistic style, exist to this day. In its highest form, ikebana is spiritual and philosophical in nature, but in modern Japan it is more often practiced as a sign of refinement by marriageable young women or older matrons.