Mr. Ogasawara is a senior director of the Nippon Bonsai Association, the owner of a bonsai nursery. He has lectured and demonstrated internationally and was invited to be a headliner of the International Bonsai Congress held at the Sheraton-Waikiki Hotel in Waikiki in July of 1990. The convention was co-sponsored by the Hawaii Bonsai Association and Bonsai Clubs International.
Prior to the convention he visited Fuku-Bonsai and got very excited when he saw a choice rock in our collection. The heavy upright rock had shaped by ocean waves and collected in the Kau district of the Big Island. He selected plants and Fuku-Bonsai provided the materials with the understanding that the finished piece would come back for permanent exhibit at Fuku-Bonsai.
The demonstration had Ted Tsukiyama translating with Mike Uyeno, Hiroshi Ikeda, and Tsukasa Inoue assisting. Shinji Ogasawara is a comic and his presentation was lively and filled with commentary and instruction. Every so often he checked on the crew's progress and gave them instruction. He told of his idea that the top part of the rock suggested a head and he was going to create "Hawaiian God" bonsai. He was referring to the very popular Hawaiian sumo wrestler Jesse Kuhalua whose Japanese wrestling name is Takamiyama. He also was sketching a large drawing reproduced below.
Immediately following the demonstration, I expressed concerns. The sticky muck brought from Japan had a high amount of finely composted organic material. It had been smeared on the rock, the plants tied in place, more muck was added to cover the roots, and moss sections applied to cover the muck. But even when plants are placed on top of the rock and even with the careful attention of skilled Japanese nurserymen, such rock planted trees are difficult to keep alive. This design placed the plants on vertical rock surfaces and it would be impossible to keep the plants alive. If allowed to dry, the muck would become rock hard and not easily again absorb water. If kept too wet, it would melt off.
The Japanese masters agreed that once the arrangement was turned over to me, it was my responsibility to keep the plants alive. In doing so, I had full freedom to do whatever was necessary. I was determined to see the rock planting survive and after it was brought back to Kurtistown, photos were taken, the plants and muck removed, and rock planting was redone using the newest "Wire-Ladder" technique that Fuku-Bonsai had developed.