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A Case Study on Ikenobo > Chapter 2: Research Methodology-5

This thesis is dedicated to...

People who wish to bring true peace to this world,

The Japanese people, who have created and possess such a great culture,

All living things.

We are all one.

Mari Katsui

Can Japanese Culture Contribute to Sustainability for Peace? A Case Study on Ikenobo

Chapter 2: Research Methodology-5

Case Selection

The population of possible organizations to study consisted of companies or organizations that have demonstrating sustainability—that is, organizations that have been in existence for a very long time.

I defined “very long time” as 300 years or more.

It was also desirable that the primary organization to be studied be culturerelated, and that it would be possible to get access to the organization in the form of secondary research materials and interviews.

Ikenobo was chosen as the primary subject for this study because it fits these criteria.

Ikenobo has been in existence for over 1,000 years, and it is still active and thriving today.

It is culture-related, having Japanese flower arrangement as its main focus.

There are many available publications about Ikenobo, I was able to get interviews with Ikenobo personnel, and Ikenobo is conveniently located in Kyoto.

In short, Ikenobo is a good example of a long-lasting organization that represents Japanese culture, and is therefore useful for exploring how Japanese culture can contribute to sustainable peace.

Research Design

Theory-building research typically combines multiple data collecting methods, including secondary data sources, interviews, and observations.

Secondary Data

Secondary data was collected from various publications, including books, journals, newspapers, and websites. Many of these data sources are in Japanese.

Semi-structured Interviews

The main source of primary data was interviews conducted by the author with persons associated with Ikenobo, two florists who work for peace through flower arrangement, the leader of a peace-related NGO in Hiroshima, and a young Buddhist religious leader.

The purpose of the non-Ikenobo interviews was to check if these people and groups have ideas and approaches similar to those of Ikenobo.

The interviews were conducted at a time and place that was convenient for the interviewee.

They generally lasted from 30 minutes to one hour.

They were semistructured: The questions asked to the interviewees were a combination of

(1) standard questions asked to all interviewees,

(2) questions that were specific to each individual interviewee, depending on his or her position, and

(3) open-ended questions that gave interviewees to the opportunity to talk more freely about points or topics they felt were important.

The following persons were interviewed for this research:

  • Representing Ikenobo: Dr. Hosokawa, Principal Researcher of the Ikebana History Museum, and Mr. Nishiguchi, General Manager of the Ikenobo Research Institute

  • Mr. Hiroki Maeno, a master of Ikebana (Sogetsu school) and avant-garde florist

  • Ms. Eiko Hamasaki, a flower therapist and Director of the Institute for the Psychological Study of Human-flower Relations

  • Mr. Daiko Matsuyama, Vice Head Priest of the Zen Buddhism temple Taizoin, and Visit Japan Goodwill Ambassador

  • Ms. Keiko Nakagawa, Director of the Hiroshima NPO, Heart of Peace: “Peace Messages from Hiroshima”

Notes were taken during and immediately after each interview.

To avoid misunderstanding, following the interviews I sent my interview notes to the interviewees so they could check them for accuracy.


Observations by the researcher, both during the project and in the past before this project was undertaken, are also included in data.

These observations are useful in informing the cultural aspects of the research project as they come from many

decades of observing and experiencing Japan culture and the cultures and behaviors of other countries and peoples.

Data Analysis Strategy

Following the procedure recommended by Eisenhardt 9 and Yin, 10 I wrote up details from the all the data collected (secondary data, interviews, observations).

This is presented in Chapters 4 to 7 below. I then reviewed all of the data and used “pattern matching” and “explanation building” to reach my conclusions and recommendations (Chapters 9 and 10).

Ethical Considerations

Informed consent was received from all informants prior to their participation in this research.

All information sources used in this research project are cited accurately, and care has been taken to avoid plagiarism.

to be continued...

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