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.
Demo tree, Kimura, Isobe
Shimpaku – before
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
ASPAC visitors from Hawaii and California help with the repotting
Meanwhile, Isobe had turned a shrub into a wonderful azalea bonsai.
Azalea before and after
Satsuki azalea – after
After getting the muck into place, the assistants covered the muck with moss, creating a very nice slab planting.