A native speaker of Japanese wrote in English about a place offering "Kadou", and referred to it in Japanese as 華道. I wanted to suggest using the word "ikebana" instead, as that's more likely to be understood by the intended audience. (Google NGrams suggests "ikebana" and "[Japanese] flower arrangement" are approximately equally common in English, for those curious)

However, I've never done ikebana, and I'm not sure whether the English word "ikebana" would be a suitable translation for 華道. The word 華道 is pronounced かどう, whereas the word pronounced いけばな in Japanese is 生け花. Is it generally ok to translate 華道, along with 生け花, into English as "ikebana"? Is there any significant difference between 華道 and 生け花 that'd mean such a translation is confusing?

Looking at the first paragraph of the Wikipedia article 華道 and the first sentence of the English Wikipedia article Ikebana suggests not.


2 Answers 2


I feel there is some difference between 生け花 and 華道 in terms of their image even if they imply similar activities. A dictionary says ~道 means

専門を究めて一派を立てた技芸 (Arts or crafts which established a school (branch) of art or craft through researching the subject). For example, 芸道, 茶道, 書道 and 剣道, etc.

I feel 生け花 is to enjoy flower arrangement with a light heart and 華道 has a high threshold than 生け花.


This is as much an English usage question as it is a Japanese language question. In practice, "ikebana" is the better-known term for formal schools of flower arrangement among English speakers, even including Japanophiles. The term 華道 is not so well known so it may be confusing.

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