One thing that has been apparent to me is the lack of cooperation between professionals in the west which is something that came as a bit of a shock to me. In Japan although there are rivalries and affiliations to bear in mind, there is a sense of togetherness and helping each other in the pursuit of making a living from Bonsai. If I have a customer that wants a tree from another professional and I push him towards buying it, then the seller will be grateful and give something back and not necessarily in monetary form, it maybe that he then intorduces a customer to me or lets me have a tree at a discounted price. I myself try to continue in this spirit and I hope that comes across to those I deal with. It seems counter productive to consider everybody as a rival when everybody has a different set of skills or aesthetic eye to bring to the table.
One fellow professional who I would very much like to help out (although he doesn't need it) is the man of the moment, Ryan Neil.
We spent a lot of our apprenticeship years in Japan at the same time, although I was a couple of years ahead and had been through the difficult patches of dealing with the Japanese system and mindset of a traditional Bonsai garden, so when we could meet secretly I was able to advise him on how to ignore the bad bits and focus on the good bits. In return, he would get me drunk and thenmake sure I got on the train home.
Now he is back in the US and starting to build his empire on a hill top in Oregon, just outside Portland in a town rather amusingly named Warren. I was lucky enough to visit him before we both went to the GSBF conference in October last year adn was amazed at what he had built so quickly. It puts me to shame...but then our objectives in life are different so it doesn't pay to compare yourself against others. His vision for Bonsai is pure and totally ego-free and he approaches it wtith a pure heart which is thoroughly refreshing. Obviously his skills are phenomenal having spent six years at the feet of Kimura, the only westerner to have done such a feat. There are not that many Japanese that have made it either.
Next weekend he will be headlining at Noelanders, so any of you lucky enough to be going, watch and learn all you can. Buy him a beer afterwards as well.
What is the reason for this outpouring of bromance? His new website has opened and go take a look.
The Chief is in China now for a few days so I can get down to some Bonsai work, I have a few trees of my own to work on, bought for a Kinbon photoshoot, but then the Chief trumped my paltry purchases and got me a humongous Juniper to work on (he wanted the pot). I will clean them up and put them up here.
The future of Bonsai is, like our trees, what we make of it. With the right heart, the right instruction and the right trees, there is no reason why our Bonsai future cannot be bright.