Bonsai Tonight

Bonsai demonstrations at the 11th ASPAC

Posted in Excursions by Jonas Dupuich on March 13, 2012

I’d been curious how demonstrations in Japan differ from the demos I’ve attended closer to home. It turns out they aren’t that different. Bonsai professionals took breaks from their work to talk about the trees while assistants kept busy. Kimura’s demo involved some minor carving and a few large bends that resulted in a pleasing silhouette.

Shimpaku, Kimura, Isobe

Demo tree, Kimura, Isobe

Shimpaku - before

Shimpaku – before

Shimpaku - after

Shimpaku – after

One standout difference was the number of translators. At one point, a Japanese Australian member of the audience – Megumi Bennett – took the stage to help out the English translator. This yielded one Japanese description, two Japanese to English translations, and one Japanese to Chinese translation all in the service of a single question. It was a start.

Chinese translator, ASPAC official, Megumi, Shigeo Isobe, Masahiko Kimura

Lo Min Hsuan (bonsai professional from Taiwan), ASPAC official, Megumi Bennett, Shigeo Isobe, Masahiko Kimura

The audio-visual set-up was very well done. Lots of close-up camera work was great for conveying detail work to a large audience.

The mighty chainsaw

Close up of the chainsaw

The next day of the convention featured a double bill. Toru Suzuki’s pine demonstration occupied stage left while Shigeo Isobe’s azalea demonstration filled stage right.

At one point during Suzuki’s demonstration, the discussion turned to decandling and other more esoteric topics of pine bonsai maintenance. This proved challenging for a very capable Japanese to English translator who found her first exposure to bonsai on stage that day.

Translator and Toru Suzuki

Harried translator and Toru Suzuki

Suzuki’s demo featured the styling and repotting of a clump-style Japanese black pine. Suzuki began work with a recent Daiju-en graduate, the talented Ken Fujiwara, but before long enlisted help from the Aichi-en duo of Junichiro Tanaka and Peter Tea. Together, the Daiju-en-happi-coat-clad team made quick work of the wiring.

Peter Tea, Junichiro Tanaka, Ken Fujiwara, Toru Suzuki

Peter Tea, Junichiro Tanaka, Ken Fujiwara and Toru Suzuki work on a clump-style pine

I actually learned an important lesson during the repotting section of the demo about handling bonsai roots carefully. I’ll share the details when I have better photos.

Toru working on the roots

Suzuki working on the roots

The pine was to be planted on a rock slab. When the time came for muck-work, Suzuki again called for help from the audience, enlisting assistance from a Hawaiian, Roy Yamashiroya, and a Californian, Dennis Makashima.

Assistants from Hawaii and California

ASPAC visitors from Hawaii and California help with the repotting

Meanwhile, Isobe had turned a shrub into a wonderful azalea bonsai.

Azalea demo

Azalea before and after

Azalea - after

Satsuki azalea – after

After getting the muck into place, the assistants covered the muck with moss, creating a very nice slab planting.

Demo complete

Demonstration complete

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5 Responses

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  1. Jose Luis Rodriguez said, on March 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    The Taiwanese bonsai professional is my friend, Mr. Lo Min Hsuan

  2. Adam said, on March 14, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Nice article Jonas…as always!

    Would be nice to see videos of these events, are there any available? Or am I too naive? :)

  3. Steve Moore said, on March 14, 2012 at 5:28 am

    Good stuff! Thanks.

    I’m looking forward to reading what you learned about protecting roots. (Having a killed a couple of trees that way, I believe.)

  4. Jonas Dupuich said, on March 14, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Adam, I don’t know if there is video from the events or not – I haven’t looked very hard, but I seen any either. I’ll keep an eye out for them.

  5. Jose Luis said, on March 15, 2012 at 4:44 am

    The ASPAC Kimura demonstration is available in youtube

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