Restyling an itoigawa shinpaku

Recently Oyakata gave me a nice itoigawa shinpaku to work on. It came from one of our long time clients. He recently decided to part with a large portion of his collection which we are now selling on his behalf via consignment. In order to prepare the trees for sale and to hopefully raise the value, we’re touching up and restyling many of them.

I believe this tree is actually old field grown material, not yamadori. The twisted trunk is quite interesting and powerful and it was my intention to show it off more in the restyling. For more refined material like this, the shape and the rough design of the tree is effectively set. The goal is just to bring out and refine what’s already there.

The tree is quite healthy and full, but a lot of the good features are lost underneath the thick green crown. Prior to…

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A Year in Review

I’m soon approaching my 1 year mark of my apprenticeship in Japan. I recently took a brief visit to California last month for some work and to see family and friends. It’s given me some time to review my thoughts and feelings of my time invested so far. I wanted to be open and honest with both the excitement and growth I experience here, but equally the stress and difficulties I face.

spring work on a tosho

Bonsai undoubtedly is my greatest passion. It’s something I absolutely love and has served as a form of meditation and healing during stressful times in my past. While I have doubts of whether my decision was the right choice, I absolutely do not regret it as I made it myself. To that end I am grateful to members of the bonsai community who encouraged me and the family that supports me being here.

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Summer Blues and Lots of White Pines

The summer season at Kouka-en has been quite slow. Unlike the stressful intensity of the Kokufu period or the physical strain of repotting season, summer season here is a marathon. The persistent humidity, intense sun, and for me, an endless stream of mosquitoes put a damper on my energy. During this period, we’re neither acquiring nor selling many trees with most of our customers doing business during show season. In short this makes for lots of watering and long muggy days in the workshop. Aside from the occasional visitor or customer there are a significant amount of days in the summer where apprentices at Kouka-en are working by themselves. The isolation plays twofold, from the greater Japanese society, but from the bonsai community here as well. With Oyakata not around often, I feel a sense of responsibility not only to make sure things run smoothly but also to improve my…

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理恵 明渡 on Instagram: “寒ぐみが開花です。冬に鮮やかな赤色の実になります。あと、梅もどきが狂い咲きしてました😓 #bonsai #bonsaitree #養庄園 #盆栽 #開花 #ぐみ #寒ぐみ #ウメモドキ #梅もどき #大阪府池田市 #osaka #japan”