Japanese breakfast of fish and seaweed. Breakfast of champions!
|A powerful solid boy.|
This tree is moving to the left. The lower branch also moves in the same direction and should be the longest branch. I wasn't really aware of this design feature before but it is one that I will use now when shaping my trees.
|After wiring and repositioning some of the branches. I removed very little foliage.|
The next morning I try and take a short cut to the nursery but get lost. I arrive late.
|One of the teachers checking the soil.|
|A view from above. Above the workshop there is another section of trees. I'm standing up there now taking this photo.|
|Baby black pines growing from seed.|
|The watering continues.|
|This particular tree is one of the nursery's most famous trees. A hinoki cypress.|
|Another hinoki cypress. I love the taper and branch placement.|
|The second tree I worked on. Again, I removed all wire first and then tried to improve the growth structure of the branches.|
|An unusual little character.|
|I'm always on the lookout for nice pots. I liked this one.|
At the nursery you are allowed to try and create what you think looks good, and then ask the teachers for their approval at the end. Below is the before and after pictures.
After removing the wire the very next step is to decide on the angle of the tree. Are you going to tilt it to the left, right, forward? Decide early - this will influence some of the cuts that you make.
Once you have decided, remove any growth that is too long or too weak. Anything that is growing underneath branches - remove.
Cycling home from the nursery it is common to see the local apartments with bonsai on balconies or in their front yard. This family had some nice ones.
|Same house. Japan really is fascinated by bonsai. You see them practically everywhere!|
|I loved these drink stations scattered throughout the streets. You are never more than 10 minutes walk from one of these babies.|
I begin my fourth day by taking morning pictures of the trees.
|You can see the top third covered by foliage, hiding the neck with green.|
|This guy was in a corner of the nursery doing his best.|
|A powerful juniper with amazing dead wood.|
|A mother and her babies.|
|A very healthy, full looking tree.|
|My tree for the day is a needle juniper. This particular needle juniper has very soft foliage.|
|After deciding on the angle you tie it down before cutting any foliage.|
|I removed too much foliage! It grows quite quickly so I am hoping it will fill out in no time. This tree didn't get rave reviews from the teachers or apprentices.|
This is almost half way into my stay in Japan and as I work I gain an even greater appreciation of the effort and concentration involved in doing this full time. I am gaining more knowledge of how to make a tree look good but I am still filled with many doubts. I can imagine that once you have a clearer picture of how you will style a tree, it would be very meditative going about creating something that looks pleasing. The teachers and apprentices work in almost total silence as they focus on their particular trees. Always thinking about how to choose which branches to wire in a stable way, what to cut, what to leave, what to bend, working from bottom to top, finished at the apex - which is the most difficult of all!
|An old gnarly looking pine in the literati style.|
|As I am riding my bike back to my hotel I spy a beautiful old house. I thought I would take a picture.|
|Here is the little guy. Oh, and the tree is there as well.|
|Maeoka-san - a teacher at Kouka-en. He was an excellent bonsai artist and a very patient man. I asked him a lot of questions!|
|I end up walking once more around the nursery and taking some more pictures before I depart.|
|A quality bonsai.|
|Thanks to Mr. Fugikawa, Maeko-san, David Martinez, Dario Mader, and Yuri Hayama for being friendly, welcoming and patient. I look forward to seeing their names up in lights in the world of bonsai in the future.|