My Japan trip – a month as a Kouka-en bonsai student


The flight went well, long and fortunately not too crowded, so I got a middle seat all to my self and managed to get some rest, if one can call it that, can anyone rest on a plane? Before my flight I caught a cold and was a bit sick during the trip but with meds and water I managed to weather the storm. The only thing I might have forgotten are my Japanese books. I wish I had them here.
Upon arrival at Osaka, I took the shuttle bus to the other airport and from there arrived at Kouka-en by taxi. Felt very welcome by the crew and after a cup of tea Fujikawa-san and Dario took me to the apartment. It’s tiny but has everything I need: normal toilet, a shower, a tiny kitchen, well I really use only the microwave and the water cooker, and at least a bed. It’s not tiny but it’s stiff and not what I’m used to, but it’ll do for these 30 days. I anticipated yearning for coffee and fresh bread, instead I find myself daydreaming about my bed!
The apartment is near a station and a shopping street, so everything is very accessible and since it’s not in the middle of Osaka, the food and everything else seems cheap in comparison to Switzerland, well… the food is cheap at least. Fruit costs a fortune, though: 1180 yen for a mango!!! The rest of the food is really affordable if you warm it up in a microwave, and it’s so delicious!
The Kouka-en nursery is a real assembly of treasures: junipers, pines, maple and lots of other amazing trees are waiting for new homes, and in the “cage” some of the most amazing masterpieces I have ever seen are leaning comfortably on sturdy shelves. I already have my favorites; a big amazing sterwartia with the most beautiful and powerful trunk you can imagine and such healthy green foliage, not to mention the outstanding ramification. Another wonderful tree is a black pine with fantastic trunk movement and really light feel to it. At the end every single one is a masterpiece, even the little trees I have been working on.
Kouka-en has also a very new online shop, so if you are searching for a nice pot or stand, please feel free to take a look.
The nice thing about such a “tourist month” is that you are able to work on different kinds of plants. Of course starting with the little ones, but I hope I can be able to work on a medium one by the end of the month. Most importantly the teachers, Mr Fujikawa foremost, are very kind and answer every question and explain everything in such an simple, accessible way. So far I wired some shimpakus, a black pine, a Hinoki cypruss, and defoliate kaede and momiji and I’m hungry for more.


see you in the coming weeks

…love, Melanie!

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