Artists in the limelight, up-and-coming young people – these and others who are capturing attention on the world stage report on the latest in their activity in this essay.
I served as curator for MANGA⇔TOKYO, an exhibition featuring manga (comics) and anime (animation) that was held in Paris as part of Japonismes 2018. The Japanese government's desire to present manga and anime abroad reflects the popularity that these cultural products have been enjoying in other countries.
From a Western perspective, Japan lies on the furthest cusp of the Far East, and Europeans were fascinated by this exotic and mysterious Eastern nation. In the Book of the Marvels of the World, Marco Polo describes Japan as "a land of gold," yet it seems the Western attraction to Japan was less motivated by material considerations, and more by its unique culture. Just what is "culture"? It could be defined as the energy that empowers life.
How time flies. December is already upon us. This is my 17th winter since I first entered the world of Bonsai. My winter preparations are complete, and I have been spending my days as usual carrying out the work my clients have requested. Though I dislike the cold weather, I very much enjoy working silently next to my oil stove with a kettle boiling on top.
As I reread my past essays in this series, I am reminded of the difficulty of communicating through words. There will be a point when, as the reader interacts with bonsai, the words of these essays and the reader's actual experience will coincide perfectly. This is my hope as I struggle, with great care, to compose this penultimate essay in the series.
I took a trip to Ozegahara in late September, reaching the famous, vast wetlands after climbing a mountain trail for around one hour in the crisp, clear air. There is a special sense of closeness to nature that comes from encounters with the many trees and plants that live there. Autumn is the season for hiking in the mountains, and it is worth the effort to go and experience the beautiful multi-colored scenery of the autumn leaves and berries.
In late September, bonsai aficionados begin preparing the bonsai trees they have been raising lovingly for their moment in the sun at the autumn exhibits. They spare no effort, trimming back overly spindly branches and supporting irregular branches with wires in anticipation of the valuable opportunity to display their trees to the local community and other aficionados.
Summer is the season for events. It is a time of excitement, a time to free the spirit. But for bonsai, a summer that is too hot can create an environment which is difficult to bear. In my work with plants, the climate each year and the state of the plants are recorded as memories in my mind. I recall that one summer when there was little rain, or the springtime when needles of five-needle pine grew long because of too much rain. And there were times when the second budding of black pines (which occurs after the first buds are pruned) was slow, or fast.
I always thought my body was resistant t...
June is the time to prune the buds of Japanese red and black pine. The new buds that have grown vigorously since spring are snipped at the border with pine needles from the previous year to encourage more new buds. Through this approach, new buds and pine needles are shaped to keep them at a length that is less than half the normal size. The length of the pine needles is very important in bonsai because the desired effect is to evoke the impression of a much larger tree.
Last month, the 8th World Bonsai Convention, Saitama City was held over three days, visited by approximately 45,000 people. The event is held once every four years. This year's edition attracted both men and women of all ages.
The venue bustled with the crowd, which was more than double the size predicted. But I imagine the hosts were jumping with joy over the fact that the number of visitors to this convention, the first to be held in Japan in 28 years, far exceeded their initial expectations, and it can be said that this year's World Bonsai Convention was a resounding success.