At my Ikebana classes we often speak about “MA” - the space between the branches and flowers; this negative space is the balance between everything.

MA space is an essential component and often the focal point of creating a traditional flower arrangement, or in a matter of fact is essential to create many other Japanese art forms.


MA is an essential concept of Japanese aesthetics; it means the pure, necessary void between all things. It is not considered an absence that separates, but as a relationship.

MA is a form of minimalism, where less in more. When you feel there is chaos, it is not because you have too many things, it is rather because you don’t have enough MA. However, minimalism is limited to physical form and space, where MA is not.

MA is filled with nothing but energy and feeling. It speaks of silence as opposed to sound, of lack as opposed to excess. It is the momentary pause in speech needed to convey meaningful words, the silence between the notes that make the music, the time between clapping hands.

MA has also been described as “an emptiness full of possibilities, like a promise yet to be fulfilled”.

The Japanese Kanji “Ma” like the Kanji “Wa” – Harmony, are meaningful concepts in the Japanese culture that exist for ages, but yet are so timeless. While I’m practicing MA in my Ikebana studies at the Buddhist temple, I try to practice it in my daily life, too. And I can’t keep wondering about the pause of life we are experiencing now and the promises it holds for each one of us.

Pictures from my studies at "Asakusa Higashi-honganji IKENOBO class"
Text source: Unique Japan, Japan experience, Wawaza.

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