Raine Onodera (8) getting a close-up introduction to the complex 360°complex
landscape named "The World of Bonsai Aloha"  as part of his visit to Fuku-Bonsai.
Photos by Maria Nobre and Fuku-Bonsai

                In June of 2010,  25 members of the Keaau Boys and Girls Club visited Fuku-Bonsai and each completed an Introductory Workshop Package.  Ten were less than 10 years old and five were just 5 years old!  They did great and it was one of the most memorable workshops and the story was published in the Fall 2010 issue of the American Bonsai Society Journal and a related article is posted on this website at www.fukubonsai.com/3a2f1.html


            One of the participants was Nicholas Nobre,  then 8 years old and now 11.  His mom is involved with the Keaau Cub Scouts and emailed me as to the possibility of a smaller group also doing a workshop, reporting that his tree was doing well and she sent me photos.    Of course, we extended the group discount and looked forward to their arrival at 12:30PM on Saturday, June 14, 2014.  I asked her to ask Nico to write a paragraph about bonsai and this is what he wrote:

             " When I got my bonsai it was small. It would grow a lot though.  But then I had to cut it.  I enjoyed this project.  This project was fun.

             " I do a lot of stuff with the bonsai. I turn it so different parts get sunlight.  I always clip it down.  I always water it.  I also fertilize it.

              " I'd like to thank Mr. Fukumoto. He made it so that I would have a bonsai.  He helped out too.  I also want to thank my mom. She helped too and reminded me too. "



            INTRODUCTION & WORKING ON AN OLDER PLANT.  Hosting a young group is always a lot of fun.  I try to emphasize the shapes of the tropical trees around us with "SUMO" styling as the basics for the Introductory Workshop Package that they will do. But I try to also give an introduction to "Roots" and "Hawaiian Dragons".  The younger they are,  the more they like trying to train the more difficult dragons in the future!   We began the workshop with Nico's tree that had developed well.  So I taught him how to up-pot it using a modified version of what he learned before.


           In these introductory workshops we need to teach the basic potting principles so the high-potential prepared bonsai stock will grow strongly.  It's more important to try to instill a vision of what the tree can be and; if they can visualize the tree growing in a beautiful scene, they can figure out how and where to prune it. Nico's tree had begun with three growth points but now had six!  We taught him how to identify the main apical growth by following up the heftiest part of the trunk and to allow that to grow in the central position to be the tallest.  We tied several paper-covered bindwires to the tie-wire under the bottom of the pot to individually pull down the outer branches down and outwards to form a large rounded Sumo Banyan foliage dome crown.


           DEMONSTRATION & EXPLAINING THE INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP PACKAGE.  Then we began to explain the Introductory Workshop Package including how the prepared bonsai stock had been developed and was already about three years in training.  Those that were going to do the workshop had an up-front seat and could see and ask questions and they did.  How to expose the roots --- why the plastic separator was the key to creating a compact shallow root system --- how to tie the accent rock under the root system to create a really attractive trunk-root base.  They had an advantage as they could see how their fellow group member's bonsai had developed in a few years!


             In a short time we were securing the demostration tree to the pot --- planting it high --- and putting an aluminum foil collar around the raised portion to reduce dry out.  Then it was the kids turn.  We had a lot of parents and adults to coach and assist so they had a lot of confidence to sailed right through. I think that sometimes it's easier to teach this age group and it's the most fun.  In multi-generation workshops I've seen grandkids help and coach timid grandparents!  If we start teaching children at his age,  they will one day become the leaders of an American - Hawaiian popular form of high-success bonsai!


               It's great when we give the youths the opportunity, then turn them loose!  I think the parents learn as much and one parent wanted in on the deal.  Edison, who usually leads the workshops, knows that I really enjoy giving workshops to youths.  I pulled rank to lead this one.  Edison was an effective coach and; as you can see from the photo below, everyone did well! 

               Here's the photo that we took to record the results.  All of the trees in the Introductory Workshop Package have been pre-trained to have an interesting trunk-root base within 1" of the soil level and multiple trunks or lower branches and mostly with three strong growth points.  So everyone started with a tree that had an interesting potential and at the end of the workshop everyone had reason to be pleased and proud that they made a nice start into growing bonsai as an enjoyable hobby.  Because we were able to take Nico's  IWP tree to the next phase, everyone could see the great progress in just a few years!  

               We're always happy to see our trees back --- have advised others on taking the next steps  --- but always to try to strengthen the relationship of the bonsai with the owner-trainer and to discourage any competitions between those who grow bonsai.  Rather,  we try to stress the enjoyment of the beauty of bonsai, the serenity of nature, and the spirit of Hawaii.  We promote the dream of grandmaster Saburo Kato of Japan that bonsai should be a bridge to international friendships and peace!

                 So here's the latest members of the Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai community including one dad who wants to be part of another family hobby and our 11-year old bonsai veteran who'll be showing the gang the way.  (Front row seated from left:)  Raine Onodera, James Carney, Kellen Keohokalole, Elijah Onodera.  (Back row from left:)  Nicolas Nobre, Bryan Keohuhu, Uncle Dave Marquis, Daichi Marquis, Kaimana Napiha’a, VJ Rosa

                 (Front row seated:)  Raine Onodera, Emmeliana Nobre, James Carney, Rylan Keohuhu, Kellen Keohokalole, Elijah Onodera.  (Center Row:)  David Fukumoto, Nicolas Nobre, Bryan Keohuhu, Daichi Marquis, Kaimana Napiha’a, Celeste Rosa, VJ Rosa.  (Back Row:)  Larae Dasalla, Sherry Onodera (holding baby Nathaniel Keohuhu), Dave Marquis, Shari Keohokalole, Maria Nobre, Stephanie Carney, Marlette Napiha’a, Uncle Edison Yadao.

                Keaau is part of Puna which is the fastest growing part of the State of Hawaii.  There are a large number of very active community groups that include us in their visiting activities.  It's said that you can judge a community by the way it treats its oldest and youngest residents.  By that measure, Keaau is a wonderful, caring community that is a great place to live! 

           There was one unfinished business as I wanted to thank, encourage, and congratulate Nico on his progress and gifted him with the day's demonstration plant with the hopes that it will inspire him to continue to enjoy bonsai as a hobby. Later that day I received an email:

           "What a wonderful day we had.  Thank you so much!!   Here are a few pics from our time with you.  Maria"

               © Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2014