Mitsuyasan, my sensei (teacher), works on a cryptomeria.
Yochan, my senpai (senior colleague), trims a needle juniper.
From May 1993 through June 1994, I lived in Japan as a bonsai apprentice.
I was the third American to study with Yasuo Mitsuya, the bonsai master and owner of Tokai-en, a bonsai nursery located in Toyohashi midway between Tokyo and Kyoto, just off the old Tokaido road.
Hideko Metaxas, past president of the Golden State Bonsai Federation, conceived the idea of the organization sponsoring students who would study with a Japanese bonsai master and then share their knowledge with member clubs in California. Now, online, I can continue to impart the skills I gained and the experiences I cherished.
- Going Solo Mitsuyasan turns me loose on a defenseless auction tree, and all the skills he taught me are put to the test.
- The Kokufu Gamble We're off to Tokyo for the most prestigious bonsai show of the year.
- Heaven in Hamamatsu There's more to an apprenticeship than bonsai; there's also sukiyaki and suiseki.
- See You Later, Irrigator In the August heat, trees and apprentices alike must be properly watered.
- A Taste of Toyohashi I learn how delicious bonsai food isn't as well as how spectacular a show tree can be.
- The Babe Ruth of Bonsai Off we go again... to Nagoya for Meifuten, the first major bonsai show of the year.
- Eyeballing a Pine I'm blinded by the beauty (among other things) of a Yasuo Mitsuya redesign of a black pine.
- Drive-By Beauty Roadside attractions: vending machines – and some stunning scenery.
Mitsuyasan's Tokai-en nursery contains over 100 magnificent bonsai –
some owned by Mitsuyasan, others owned by clients
and kept here for maintenance or show-entry preparation.