Archive for April, 2013

Tea room

Posted: April 30, 2013 in Japan
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Over the last few day’s a family friend of the Tanaka’s has started to build a new tea room here at Aichi-en. Oyakata has been helping out and along with some occasional manual labour from the apprentice’s it seems to be going well. There is a tea room here already at Aichi-en which, is next to the workshop and where I spend the majority of my time here. An effort is made to keep it clean but, you can’t seem to get away from that akadama dust. It just gets everywhere and hence the why the new one is being built. I’m going to miss the rest of its construction with my departure which, is a little disappointing but, I look forward to seeing it completed when I return. Here it is so far.
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It was kind of hard to get any decent pictures with the tree’s and stuff in the way but, I hope you get the idea.

Thanks for reading.

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Well it’s not all kokufu tree’s & green tea and yesterday was preparing fertilising day. We use rapeseed here because it’s cheap and Oyakata buys it straight from where it is pressed, cutting out the middle man. The job of the apprentices is to load a spoon full of the rapeseed into tea bags then fold the end to seal it in. With two people it’s very quick.
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We did eight trays in total which, was twenty short of three thousand tea bags. It sounds bad and a boring job but, it was kind of relaxing in a way. Once you get your head down and get on with it time flies by. That will do for one fertilising anyway.

We started to place the bags on today once we had some more bamboo sticks. Depending on the size of tree we put more or less bags. Up to six.

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Thanks for reading.

The moment of truth..

Posted: April 25, 2013 in Japan
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Well, tonight whilst sat down after dinner in the workshop, I got the news that I was hopeing for. I have been excepted to do an apprenticeship here at Aichi-en in Japan.
After some discussion, the plan is that I will return home as planned next week to sort out some thing’s at home and I shall return in June to start my first year here.
I’d like to thank everyone for there continuing support and help in my journey to get here.

Thank you.

Nagoya castle

Posted: April 24, 2013 in Japan
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It was a really wet day today so we were given the morning off to go to Nagoya castle. Nagoya castle was built-in the 16th century and has a long history. I’m not going to go into all of that because this post would take forever but, check it out in Wikipedia if your interested.

The castle

The castle

I’ve seen pictures of Japanese castles before and I thought it would be big but, I still couldn’t believe the size of it.

The moat

The moat


Massive stone in one of the walls

Massive stone in one of the walls


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Wisteria in the grounds

Wisteria in the grounds

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White camellia tree

White camellia tree

The castle was famous for a white camellia but at some point or another it was lost and this is the replacement.

A model of the castle and Nagoya back in it's hay day. It's changed a bit now!

A model of the castle and Nagoya back in its hay day. It’s changed a bit now!


Views from the top of the castle to prove it's changed!

Views from the top of the castle to prove it’s changed!


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Back during the war the castle and a lot of the surrounding builds got destroyed. The castle has been re-built and the rest is a work in progress.

Some foundation stones of a building that got destroyed.

Some foundation stones of a building that got destroyed.

A new section that has been re-built.

A new section that has been re-built.

Golden Dolphin

Golden Dolphin

And finally a replica of one of the golden dolphin’s that reside on the top of the Castle. They are pretty famous and were/are (?) made of gold. They have been melted down several times and made smaller in hard times in Japan.

Thanks for reading.

Pint sized

Posted: April 21, 2013 in Japan
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Recently whilst emailing a good friend, the subject turned to shohin bonsai and what tree’s were here at Aichi-en. Aichi-en isn’t known for it’s shohin bonsai like some nurseries, which specialise on them. Even though Aichi-en have more bigger tree’s, it has a good mixture of all sizes. I had a walk about the nursery this morning and grabbed a few pic’s which, I sent to my friend. I thought I’d share them here as well. These tree’s range from shohin to slightly larger kifu size.
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Thanks for reading.

Well the day started off pretty normally, till I just started to work (de-needling/trimming a pine) and then it was decided that we were to spray the tree’s this morning (that’s the cool thing here you never know what the day will be like exactly). I say we, it was down to me and Peter. Everything was sprayed from the garden trees to the accent plants. Here’s a picture of the setup.

The setup

The setup

It’s a simple setup of a petrol (gas) pump, a hose and a vat full of potions mixed with water. Their were three components to the mixture, a fungicide (daconil), a pesticide (no idea what exactly) and a kind of soap designed for the job. The aim is mostly to kill aphids and spider mites at this time of the year. Peter told me at different times of the year, different chemicals are used for different pests.
Thip’s are a big nuisance here. When a de-leafed deciduous tree has got its second fresh new leaves in the summer they are very susceptible to thrips and if they get attacked badly the tree will be stalled for the rest of the year.

Peter spaying

Peter spaying

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My job consisted of navigating the hose (making sure it didn’t get tangled or caught up and that there was plenty of slack) round the garden. We went from north to south, up and down the aisle’s, doing both sides of each tree. It took two drum full’s (I think their 10 gallon but, I could be mistaken) and pretty much the whole morning.

Back home we are lucky enough not to have such aggressive insect attacks and we can get away with more spray on sight policy. So it’s more of occasional skirmishes rather than full on warfare. On the other hand our growing season/lack of summer (that’s when you get lots of sun and warmth, for anyone back home if they can’t remember) means the tree’s don’t grow so well. Win some.. lose some.. I guess…

By the way we the last few day’s have had highs of twenty-two degrees centigrade and fifteen at night if anyone was wondering back home.

Thanks for reading.

As I mentioned yesterday Oyakata kindly bid on a lot at the auction for me and won it. I think it was a close run thing because the seller pushed the price up and I think he wanted more. Oyakata stuck with my maximum bid and an agreement was made at that price.

The item I won is a chuhin size Suzuki Syuzan pot which is a Japanese, fairly modern pot maker. Syuzan is a very high quality pot maker who made pots in Nagoya. For that reason I thought it would be fitting to buy one as a momento of my trip to Aichi-en. The pots are considered such high quality that they are used along with Chinese antiques in Kokufu. For more information about Syuzan pots please refur to Peter Tea’s and Ryan Bell’s website’s.

Some nice patina on the pot.

Some nice patina on the pot.

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The chop

The chop

Well this isn’t actually my second purchase because when I came to pay Oyakata this morning he said that the first pot was a gift and I only had to pay the difference. Which was very kind of him and I’m very grateful. He’s a great guy, I feel very lucky to be here at this nursery and it only makes me hope more that I can get a position here at Aichi-en.

Thanks for reading.