New work and challenges in Japan

It’s been quite awhile since my last update. My typical day runs down as follows:

5:00-6:00 AM Wake up
                         Study Japanese or LINE (skype equivalent more popular in parts of                                          Asia) call to the states
8:00 AM           Begin work at Kouka-en
5-6:30 PM        Finish work and bike back
7-8:00 PM        By this time I try to finish grocery shopping, cooking, and household tasks
9:00 PM           Self study Japanese or oversea internet calls at this time
10:00 PM         Ideal sleep time

In reality my schedule varies quite a lot and recently I have not been consistent in my language studies as well as cooking. The latter I blame because of cheap half price grocery store bentos. They are a godsend. Cheap, delicious, and much healthier than the equivalent dollar menu hamburger from the states.

All in all I have been doing well though. My Japanese listening skills rapidly improved and my speaking (although still quite grammatically poor at times) has become passable for basic communication. I was quite terrified of getting haircuts here for awhile but I’m able to get the approximate cut I want only using Japanese now. It’s still quite a long road to fluency but it’s a start.

I’ve also been told many times that appearance wise I am passable for Japanese. At times I benefit from this allowing myself to blend in, living a normal life and at others I find myself in situations far beyond my language ability. I’ve gotten used to explaining that I recently came from America and I’m not of Japanese heritage to escape otherwise difficult and awkward exchanges.

My skills have been gradually improving as well. I’m used to learning by example and teaching myself. There are many excellent trees in Kouka-en and when I find myself in a rut on how to wire or style a particular branch I often walk outside and look for examples from the trees on display. Typically watering, routine, or seasonal work will take priority over styling trees. Recently I’ve been occupied with just that so I haven’t been able to share new projects. However my current project is looking promising so when it’s done I hope it can showcase my improvement.

Since my last update quite a lot has happened. 3 tyhoons, several practice trees finished, an auction, lots of maintenance/seasonal work, and recently my family paid a visit.

Typhoons are entirely new to me having lived in Southern California for most of my life. 100+ km winds seemed pretty exciting at first until I realized it meant hand carrying more than a few heavy trees inside. The shuffle was done 3 times over September and October and I’m quite happy to see typhoon season end. Autumn is here with warm days and cool nights. Expansive partly cloudy skies, whose cool tones will soon contrast with the warm colors of the leaves below. Autumn is by far my favorite season and the weather has been very enjoyable.

Anyhow enough words. Please see everything for yourself:

Before & afters, click for larger image.



Here are some photos from Mino Park and Arashiyama as well:











Recently I was also awarded the Harry Hirao Scholarship from the Golden State Bonsai Federation. I am very honored and have Doyle Saito to thank for encouraging me to apply.

Anyhow, it’s a rather short update but that’s about it for now. I’ll look to crack out longer and better quality articles in the months ahead. I’ve been inconsistent and rather lazy about writing recently. However please do follow me on my Facebook and instagram. I share many photos and small updates that aren’t posted on the blog!