Bonsai, most of us may have heard this word in a block buster movie karate kid where you can see the master of Karate Mr Miyagi educating the main character about the art of karate while cultivating his own bonsai.
Bonsai is a Japanese art form using cultivation techniques to produce, in containers, small trees that mimic the shape and scale of full size trees.
Though the word has been used in a western culture as to describe “decoration of a plant”, we found out through this interview that there is much more to it.
We spoke to Akira Kobayashi a founder of Bonsai iki and also a master of bonsai who have been crafting the art for over10 years about his work and the nature of bonsai.
Born in 1973, Akira now Lives in Totsuka-ku, Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture Perfecting his art in a daily basis.
Starting from early 2000s he has been running a pop up store in a famous stores such at Yokohama Takashimaya, Nihonbashi Takashimaya, Tokyu Main Store, etc
With extensive experience and media coverage by local Japanese TV, his workshop has also been a common place for Bonsai newbies and enthusiasts.
Akira shared with us: “My style of bonsai is not traditional bonsai that is difficult and complex to cultivate, but I am more focused on adapting this Japanese tradition is to the modern lifestyle. Hence my design speaks on that modern nature.
My bonsai is tailored to a design that can be displayed in both Japanese and Western rooms.”
He continued “Treated with mountain moss, makeup gravel, etc., you can feel the natural scenery from our daily lives such garden, and the four seasons of spring to winter in the room.
Every one who purchase a designed bonsai though the motive may vary it is unique that my style of designed bonsai trees are commonly purchase by women with a great taste and sense of embracing nature around them. As a result A palm-sized bonsai tree has been well received and been one of the popular one of our catalogue.
I would love for more people from all over the world to have the opportunity to come in contact with traditional Japanese bonsai through our Pop-up stores centered on department stores, activities centered on workshops and etc.
For this, the keyword that I am particularly passionate about spreading is [Let’s Bonsai].
I say this because I believe this energy of seemingly easy to access with such phrase will bring more understanding to people that it is not something that is difficult or something old people do or even nerdy but once you get to know it, it is a whole new art form that can enrich our lives and bring calmness to our day to day.”
We could not end the interview without asking one quick tip on what one should consider when exploring to get into bonsai.
Akira shared with us: “To give some specifics, first, bonsai is not just a small tree planted in a pot. A word bon means “a vessel” and sai means nature. Together, nature in a vessel. I think that the heart of modern people will be enriched through the use of bonsai and taking in comfort and healing. Bonsai slows down the fast pace of life, and if you are consciously connected to nature, it will help you to relieve the stress of modern lifestyles that require speed.
Everybody deserves their own nature in a vessel.
That is why I continue to open Pop-up shops and hold workshops in many different places.”
According to Akira the key to cultivating a Bonsai is to cultivate it in a form that represents the balance of nature. The Yin and Yang which is the origin of Feng Shui, states that there are five basic elements of life, two of which are trees and soil. Bonsai represent those trees and soil that balances your surroundings and channel positive atmosphere.
Bonsai may just be the right solution to not only individuals in Japan but world wide where many are facing stress related health issue.
If you are interested in bonsai, Akira recommends for beginners, the “Modern Bonsai” rather than the traditional format.
You can find out more about akitas work from his community page: https://www.facebook.com/bonsaiyaiki5884/