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A few days ago Mr. Nobuichi Urushibata passed away.

I met Mr. Urushibata back in 2007 when I first came to his nursery to study. I arrived in Japan with little to no language and managed to negotiate myself to Taisho-en.

My first interaction with Oyakata (A word that means something along the lines of teacher, mentor, guardian in Japanese) was a chat where he warned me in broken english with a stern face that my time at the nursery would not be a holiday and I would need to be “like samurai”. He maintained the stern face for a few moments then broke out in laughter.

From that point forward I learned about how kind, caring and passionate he was. Over many visits and much time he guided me through my bonsai learning and provided me with much life advice.

At a base level I was always blown away with his child like enthusiasm for bonsai, whether that was finding new trees and stock, styling or just generally carrying out maintenance. He always carried out his teaching with a smile and could see the humorous side of things when they went wrong.

I would see him out in the garden in the early morning, just walking around looking at trees before others arrived to begin work. I never got the sense that he was working a job but rather following a passion and it was inspiring to watch.

I feel very lucky to have met him and spent time learning under his guidance. I owe so much to him from what I have learnt and I feel that he played a large role in shaping me into the person I am today.

I will miss him a lot but I carry with me many fond memories of our time together.

Rest in peace Oyakata.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about bonsai lately. What it is, why we do it and how it relates to modern lives outside of a Japanese context.

While discussing this with my good friend Natasha Morgan, she invited me to run a couple of bonsai workshops of a different kind at her beautiful property, Oak and Monkey Puzzle in Spargo Creek near Daylesford to begin a wider discussion.

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One of the trees at Oak and Monkey Puzzle

The day long workshops will be aimed at teaching people to see and interpret the world through bonsai as an artistic medium rather than via a set of rigid rules. It will guide you through the process of reflecting on how we see the world, how we might become comfortable within this and how we might communicate this to others; An awakening through bonsai if you like which can and will be applied widely outside of bonsai.

Recently featured in Country Style magazine, her property, skirted by forest, will provide the perfect backdrop for learning and sharing ideas.

Another highlight of collaborating with Natasha is that the workshop will be teamed up with a beautiful 2 course kitchen garden lunch cooked from locally sourced, grown and foraged ingredients set in her stunning garden.  Natasha is an incredibly passionate, talented and welcoming host who is sure to make the day a very special one.

Further details can be found at her site: http://www.natashamorgan.com.au/

Be sure to have a look over what else she has been up to while you are there as she is passionate about people, collaboration, food and sharing ideas and skills and brings these all together in such a beautiful way.

 

I Just wanted to say that my thoughts are with the people of Japan tonight in the wake of this terrible disaster.

To all my friends in Japan, i hope you, your famlies and friends are all safe.

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