A Kenzan Is Your Friend
Updated: May 15, 2020
The kenzan, which literally means sword mountain, is one of the first tools you'll learn to use in Ikebana. It's typically introduced in Moribana arrangements, those using suiban or low, basin-like vases. In English, a kenzan is also called a spiky or pin frog. Comprised of a heavy, lead plate covered with sturdy spikes, it's designed to hold and stabilize flowers, stems, branches and other floral materials.
A myriad of different shapes and sizes exist to complement the vase chosen. These include big, small, round, rectangular, interlocked pairs and a triangle, also called a Ginkgo kenzan because of its resemblance to the gingko leaf. (Is there a more beautiful leaf? A friend once pressed Ginkgo leaves in the wet cement of his garden path...but, I digress.)
Buy good quality, heavy Japanese-made kenzans, as the weight of stems and flowers can become precarious. Also, look for a kenzan with copious, tightly spaced pins. The more Ikebana calls to you, the more kenzan you'll amass. Tip: Spray paint them the color of any vase, so they're easy to camouflage.