Study Buddies

One of the many things I love about Aichien is the strong feeling of community.  Everywhere we go there is always a group of people with us, working together to make things happen.  In most cases this involves doing work at customers’ houses, attending bonsai auctions or working at bonsai shows.  Usually we are accompanied by (or accompanying) the folks of Diajuen as well as other bonsai professionals. Occasionally though, the entourage is of a different type and assembles simply for fun and the relaxing enjoyment of bonsai and good company.  Today was such an occasion!


Mr. Tanaka, whom I respectfully refer to as Oyakata* is the teacher of a bonsai study group that meets once a month.  Typically the day consists of club members hanging out, working on their trees, talking, talking, talking and getting the opinions, help and guidance of Mr. Tanaka… then more talking.  Oh yeah, and we have lunch too!  You can almost set your watch to Japanese lunch time.

IMG_5685Lunch time!

Since there would likely be some spare time at the study group I brought along a few small black pines to work on from Aichien.  After everyone got set up and working, I was able to put some time into the pines.  Nothing major, just seasonal maintenance.  Cutting candles and pulling needles.  Luckily this type of work allows just enough mental slack for one of my other fascinations, observing people.

IMG_5681One of the pines I brought, post decandleing and pulling needles.

IMG_5693Then we bent the main branches down a bit.

Study groups are a fantastic way to focus on trees in a relaxed setting.  While this type of gathering is not the amazing, magnificent, somewhat rock star side of bonsai, it is very genuine and quite fun!

IMG_5676Needle junipers and black pines are the material of choice for this month’s study group.  Good time of year to work on both of these species.

IMG_5674A few of the usual suspects.  Watching, listening, learning.

IMG_5677Beer boxes seem to be the top choice work stand for bonsai hobbyists and professionals alike.  They also double as stools, and if you have enough of them an entire dining room table and chairs combo can be put together!

Good times and good people doing what they love.  While looking through these pictures I started to notice that my presence as a 30 year old in this room may have brought the average age of the group down to about 65.  :)

Thanks for reading! More to come.

*A note about the term Oyakata.  My Senpai, Mr. Peter Tea wrote a great post about the meaning of Oyakata as explained to him by Mr. Tanaka.  Check it out.