Welcome to the Saruyama Blog, intermittent and generally off topic. Occasionally you might see some trees...and weird ones at that.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

afternoon delight...

After the misery of the cold and wintry conditions of yesterday, today saw a sunny start to the morning and spring like weather, touching 12 degrees. If my body was able to cope with the lack of sleep, then it would be struggling with the funny weather, but at least we didn't have to take down all the trees last night. After the morning meeting where schedules and things of import were discussed, we set off for the club in the hotdog mobile. I managed to lie down in the back, thus getting a few more minutes of respite.

The improved weather definitely saw smiles return to the faces of the professionals and an increased number of shoppers. I spent the morning "walking the show" with clients and doing some translating and negotiating on their behalf. A few trees were moving and the mood seemed convivial. A stark difference from 24 hours previous. Akiyama in particular was doing well and when I left at lunch time, he was deep in conversation with a client about the work required to take a chuhin sized chojubai to the level required for a future kokufu.

As much as I have been influenced by the Chief, my elder brother Akiyama has been one of the most major influences on me as a bonsai professional. Not just tips and tricks technique wise but also from a business and ethical perspective. Although we are the same age, we have come along very different paths to thecurrent point. Akiyama came to his apprenticeship straight from high school, me after 4 years of university and one of bumming around. I started just as he was finishing and there was a lot which needed to be passed down. One of the things that has always stuck with me and was evident today was the fact that he once asked me, "what do we sell?", and rather naively, I answered "Bonsai". The answer he was looking for was, and I don't mean this in a strange way was..."dreams, we sell dreams". He constantly reminded me that for the enthusiast it is a hobby, some more serious than others, but if it isn't fun and if there is nothing to look forward to, then there is no point. Bonsai is a study of change over time, be it natural or not and so we must enable that to take place in a positive way. Finding material that has a bright future and either teaching the techniques necessary or implementing them, to enable the dream to come true, that is our job...and enjoying the path along the way.

Sometimes that involves an hour train ride to see some monkeys, other times not. Today it did. This afternoon I was asked to take a customer to see the world famous Taisho-en, the garden of the Urushibata's. An hour train ride from Tokyo, and we were there, eager to meet the monkeys. They did ot disappoint...

John Armitage was recent at Taisho-en for another stay and so I asked Mr. Urushibata how it went and he was effusive with praise. Apparently John's arm has raised...which means he has level upped in both dexterity and skill. He's good basically. Very good. Urushibata made a bee line for this tree which had been styled by Mr. Armitage, saying with a big smile on his face, you should have seen this before!

Not quite taken at the front but from a nice piece of work from one of the premier European shohin bonsai artists. (This commercial has been not been funded by the Armitage Foundation).

There were too many trees to take pictures of, and I prefer to look at them rather than photograph, but here were some stand out trees.

A collected Hemlock from 60 years ago. 60 years of careful pot cultivation. Look at the bark, look at the mochi komi in the branches, look at the genuine naturalistic styling. Mr. Snart...look at it. Phenomenal. The thought of loving you getting so exciting...sky rockets in flight...

Possibly the best needle Juniper in the world...from the potential new front. Mmm...

For those people who are afraid to prune their bonsai...this is what it will look like in 400 years. A garden tree Black Pine which was originally a bonsai belonging to Tokugawa Ieyasu...one of the most famous shogun ever. I would hate to wire it.

Taishoen has expanded and improved dramatically over the last few years. The work room has improved, Mr. Urushibata is building a new house on the property and the garden has doubled in size. It is well worth a visit and the international school has been home to a great number of happy and satisfied students...including three very hard at work, fiddling with trees while I was there. I commented to Mr. Urushibata how long it had been since the heady days of apprenticeship when I used to sit in front of trees all day. He laughed and said..."Shouganai"...what can you do about it?

The next round of European Talent...good to have more and more people training even for just a month. Manuel on the right however is to stay for five years if possible.

All in all it was a welcome break from the confines of the green club...got to sleep on the train a little and see an old school Hemlock that was worth the trip itself. An afternoon delight indeed. Tomorrow a trip to see Morimae and some satsuki people.

Technically that should be today as I fell asleep in the middle of writing it.

Oh and for Andy Stone Monkey...pot porn. Turn your head upside down and dont forget to breathe.

Over and out.



  1. Thank you Peter. I am enjoying these posts from the trenches

  2. More Escort than Mayfair ;-) but good nonetheless, cheers Peter aka Paul Raymond