Tag Archives: Junichiro Tanaka

JBP in a blink of an eye!

Since it is now the Fall, we’ve all been busily wire and styling trees.  The main trees Mr. Tanaka and I have been styling are Black and White Pines. The work varies from complete refinement styling to rough work styling to get the tree started.  In this post, I’m going to share the rough styling that Mr. Tanaka did on a Japanese Black Pine and talk about some of the things he did.  He amazingly did a lot of work on the tree in such a short period of time.  Let’s get started and see what we can learn from him.

Here is a picture of the Black Pine before the work.  The trunk is about 12 in (30.5cm) wide. The height of the tree 24 in (61cm) tall.

Mr. Tanaka bought this tree around March of this year and the first thing he did was repot it.  It was in a much larger pot and he reduced it down dramatically.  That was one things that surprised me about the trees that we’ve repotted here.  They were all put in pots that I originally thought were way too small, but they ended up working well and fitting just fine.  It’s also incredible to see how Mr. Tanaka will take a tree out of a large pot, do the root work, look at the tree and walk outside only to return with a pot that fits perfectly.  I’d say out of all the tree’s he’s repotted this Spring, about 90 percent of the time, he’s come back with the correct size. That goes to show the experience that he has working with Bonsai.

When Mr. Tanaka repotted this tree, he bare rooted it.  I ask him is that was a bit much and he said it was perfectly fine if you don’t cut the roots too much.  So on this tree, he cleaned out all of the soil and kept the roots long and put them back in the new pot.  I never thought about doing it that way, but as you can see from the bushy tree in the photo, the tree didn’t skip a beat and grew very well during the Spring and Summer season.  Mr. Tanaka did note thought that because of the bare rooting, the candles should not be cut this year, hence why the needles are long on this tree.

The goal at time is to bend the main branches to where he wanted it, cut off unnecessary branches and get the tree started in the right direction.

Here is the tree after Mr. Tanaka finished.  It took him 4 hours!  The tree is now only 18 in (45.7cm) tall.  Once the tree’s needles are shortened the tree is expected to be somewhere in the 16-17 in (40.6 – 43 cm) range.

I was wiring at Black Pine of my own and before I knew it, he was finished!  Truly done in a blink of the eye.  Can you see the changes that he’s done?


Here is a the before and after together so you can get a better look.  The tree has dropped from the large category to the medium category.

Trunk size

Notice how by making the tree shorter, the trunk automatically looks bigger!  I had to put a ruler to the trunk just to make sure that the trunk was still 12 in (30.5cm) wide!  This is a great example of how we perceive things relatively.

A view of the underside

In this photo you can see that Mr. Tanaka removed a large lower branch and bent the top of the tree down with a guy wire.  He used stainless steel for this because the pressure of the bend was too great for regular copper.  I actually had to help tighten the wire while he bent the branch.  Mr. Tanaka also lopped off a large part of the top and made a new apex with a lower branch. Note that not all of the branches are wired.  He basically wired only the main branches that he needed to move.  Once they are set, the next wiring job will be focused on arranging the smaller branches.  That will be done a year or two from now.

I thought this was a cool technique that Mr. Tanaka used to attach the guide wire.  We’ve all seen pros attach screws to the roots or some dead wood for the guide wire but the branch itself?  It turns out putting the screw into the underside of the branch and attaching the wire to it worked very well. Mr. Tanaka said that this works better because if you wrapped the wire around the branch, even with a rubber tube as protection, the branch will still get choked out.  In this method, the hardwood of the tree is taking all of the stress. Just make sure that the screw is a strong thick screw. (Is it me or does the deadwood with the screw in it look like a shark head?)

Well there you have it!  I wish I was able to get more photos while he was working on the tree but everything happend so fast that I didn’t get the chance too. If you really want to see all the little things he did to the tree, your just going to have become an apprentice here and see for yourself.  Anybody interested?

Working on Black Pine now?

Some of you readers that have worked with me before might be wondering why the tree is worked in October as opposed to November or December like I’ve said many times in the past.  The reason why is that the tree was not de-candled in June.  Since the new candles are Spring candles and not newer Summer candles, the needles have had a longer time to harden off.  If this tree had been de-candle in June, the new needles would break very easily now, pushing the work into November or December.

Please comment in the box below if you have questions or noticed something else that he did that I didn’t talk about.  That why, we call all learn more together.

I threw this picture in just to show you how real bonsai work gets done here at Aichi-en.  Haha!  This is Mr. Ken Fujiwara wiring a customer’s small White Pine.

Thanks for reading

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