Revolution

Mario Komsta and John Romano at Taisho en in Shizuoka Japan

The cultural ‘information’ revolution that has been occuring throughout the world  has of course affected the art of bonsai with the continued evolution of the internet as a means of transmitting knowledge and ideas – with videos, Facebook, blogs, etc. . There are numerous Forums to follow and participate in, images to study on line, etc. It has been interesting to watch this develop. I think the current manifestation of this revolution is in the dissemination of knowledge from Japan (and China, etc.) as more nurseries there have accepted non Japanese apprentices and how this new generation is blogging, posting updates on Facebook and creating videos of their experiences and lessons. Quite fascinating really. The pioneers who studied in Japan as far back as Bill Valavanis and Lynn Perry Alstadt and then Kathy Shaner, Boon, Michael Hagedorn, Ryan Neil, etc. disseminate their experiences in workshops, schools, articles and books.  Lately, however, we have evolved to this new generation of students who update their experiences almost instantaneously. Peter Tea posts regular updates on Facebook as well as his blog and Bjorn Bjorholm has featured some very nice videos from his site of apprenticeship at Kouka-en. I can also see changes in the way the Japanese teaching style is evolving in certain places. Traditional apprenticeship practice is learning by observation and rote practice over several years. While this is still the norm, there are some blendings of Western teaching through verbal instruction going on in some places. When I was at Taisho en, Mr. Urushibata was just beginning this experiment trying out his techniques with myself and another person as guinea pigs of sorts.  This was also while he had a traditional non Japanese apprentice there in Mario Komsta.   He would have a day with a theme which he taught and then had us practice. This has evolved into a thriving Japanese International bonsai ‘school’. On subsequent visits, I’ve seen students from all over the world studying there. From his postings, Peter Tea’s experiences also seem to be a bit more ‘interactive’ than the traditional Japanese style of teaching. I think a blending of the two traditions is excellent and I find the new revolution dizzying but fun! We’ll see if it makes for better trained people and more beautiful bonsai!

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About New England Bonsai Gardens

New England Bonsai Gardens is the largest bonsai nursery in New England. Our nursery in Bellingham, Massachusetts currently has eight greenhouses and more trees than we care to count. We have served the bonsai community for over 20 years, providing bonsai trees, pre-bonsai, pots, tools, soils, books, tree-sitting services, and more. We also teach bonsai workshops for all levels of students. Check out our workshop schedule for a complete listing.
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One Response to Revolution

  1. Lew says:

    I can’t wait to see some of the creations of the more modern type that may come about when some young people catch on to this creative art of bonsai. They may not be conventional.

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