During the last week of October, Nick and I were fortunate to study bonsai through lectures, demonstrations, and workshops. Since neither of us are experts on bonsai, our studies began with the basics.
Our first lesson began with a short lecture on creating the small tree. Matsusue-sensei explained how the style of the bonsai is reflective of natural forces and growing limitations on the trees growing in the natural environment.
As you can see from the pictures, some bonsai are to represent the wind-swept pattern, or the straight forward nature of the forest, or the gnarly growth habits of growing on a cliff.
During the workshop, we had the opportunity to shape our own bonsai. Can you guess which one is Matsusue-sensei’s work and which one is the student’s?
The following three days were dedicated to practicing what we had learned- careful shaping and pruning, wiring, preparing the bonsai for show, etc.
Then, you begin to remove needles which are crowded or growing in an unfavorable fashion. After you have carefully removed these sections, you begin to prepare it for show. This is accomplished by adding sections of moss to the soil and polishing the clay pottery with baby oil.
Sensei trusted us enough to work on some of his most beautiful specimens!
Nick and I not only learned about the fundamentals of bonsai, but we also witnessed the lifestyle of a Bosai Suishoen (Bonsai Master) firsthand. It’s a rather social way with customers and students stopping in for a visit during all times. Every person who stops by is welcomed with a hot drink and a sweet- a very hospitable custom which we enjoyed.