No Posts From Japan

John Ruger

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A question posted on the IBC asked why there are no posts from Japanese bonsai artists on Western bonsai web forums. Two responses so far focused on the issues of respect and politeness or lack thereof on Western forums as an important reason,

Do any of you have thoughts or insight on this?
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Lack of respect and politeness is something often seen on western bonsai forums. It's no surprise to me that these may be factors. However, I think those aren't the only reasons. The language barrier may be another significant reason. Another could be the differences in cultures. I haven't studied Japanese culture much, so I don't know the extent of the culture shock. Also, I'm sure there are impolite Japanese bonsai enthusiasts just as there are impolite western bonsai enthusiasts. Furthermore, from what I've heard (not experienced myself), some Japanese people can be judgmental and discriminant, and do not wish to speak to others from other cultural background. I should probably clarify that this may only make up a very small portion of Japanese people, and from what we've seen on some of these forums, people of all cultures can discriminate.
 
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Smoke

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A question posted on the IBC asked why there are no posts from Japanese bonsai artists on Western bonsai web forums. Two responses so far focused on the issues of respect and politeness or lack thereof on Western forums as an important reason,

Do any of you have thoughts or insight on this?

How many Japanese forums are you actively communicating in?
 

John Ruger

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How many Japanese forums are you actively communicating in?

None, do you? I don't communicate with Russian, Slovak or Indonesian forums either, but plenty show up on English speaking ones.

But, I don't think that was the point. Many of these forums have international membership, as you know. So it's interesting that member participation can range the globe over, yet Japan seems to be missing.
 

Smoke

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At present I collect ancient Roman coins. I belong to three internet discussion forums on collecting Roman coins. The largest forum if I remember correctly has only two chaps on it from Italy. Could not the same assumption be made for Roman coins?

You would think the country of origin might have the largest number of posters on any given international forum, but sadly no.

It might just be that we find more time to just talk about bonsai while the Japanese DO bonsai. Something to think about.
 

DaveV

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When I lived in Boston (17 years ago), I worked with several people from Japan. At that time in my life I was just getting interested in bonsai. I asked some of my close partners about bonsai in Japan and they told me that it was mainly an older persons hobby. I'm not trying to sound rude but several of them implied that only old retired folks participated in bonsai - not the younger generation. Some of them even laughed at me and said it was an old persons hobby.
 

bonsaiTOM

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Interesting points brought up here. "Hobby for old people" - but then why don't we hear from those older folks?

Over on another forum - a very large family of forums actually - there are sections specifically for diverse forms of gardening. Some Japanese members will discus some topics freely - such as Japanese Gardening, but they never cross over to the topic of Bonsai on its sister forum. ??:confused:

Then, at least in our area, there seem to be so few (if any) Japanese members of local bonsai clubs. NONE in the three that I belong to - until just last month!

Our club in Utica held an exhibit this past July at a well known Arts Festival and it has attracted a small group of Japanese plus second and third generation Japanese Americans, family and friends, who did not know that a local club existed. They have started attending meetings and some are now joining. We are thrilled to have them with us and their ages range from 12 years old up to the 70's. I do hope that this new relationship will be long lasting and fruitful. As I mentioned the local clubs here have had so little participation previously with this segment.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Similar to DaveV, I hosted a trainee from our company's Japanese sister company a few years ago. He was in his 20s, and I asked him about the association with bonsai in Japan, and he kind of laughed and said "for the elderly".

Peter Warren took it a step further than Al's post when I asked him this last spring ...you either don't do bonsai and don't care, you own trees as art and don't know anything about it, or you're too busy doing it to get involved online. You're either wealthy, own bonsai like artwork and go to the nursery where the bonsai are maintained to "visit your trees" and discuss health, training, pot selection, etc. with the caregivers...or you're a caregiver in a nursery. He also mentioned that a lot of the caregivers really don't get online much; hard to imagine.

Pure conjecture: I also get the distinct impression that there is not the debate or give and take or reasons why on most of the issues we debate here. "It's done this way, and it will continue to be done this way..." I doubt most of the guys who've been working with bonsai for decades, and whose families have done it for generations are remotely curious about what we think should be done with our trees.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Thinking about it more. If you don't already follow Peter Tea's blog; this is about the best peek under the tent you can get about what's going on now in the Japanese bonsai world. It is excellent, he is talented, and Peter definitely goes out of his way to share his experience in words and photos...regularly!

http://peterteabonsai.wordpress.com/\
 

jk_lewis

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Most Japanese have learned conversational English in school. There's not a lot of reading and writing taught. If you stop a Japanese on the streets of Tokyo and ask for directions, they can understand you, but tend to be very reluctant to answer -- and if they do, it is accompanied by a lot of apologetic comments about their English skills, and on the part of women and girls, a lot of giggling behind hand-covered mouths.

So I expect that an unwillingness to demonstrate poor language skills, along with the fact that bonsai IS a practice of the elderly who are less computer literate than us oldsters in the West that limit participation.
 

BoneSci

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Peter Warren took it a step further than Al's post when I asked him this last spring ...you either don't do bonsai and don't care, you own trees as art and don't know anything about it, or you're too busy doing it to get involved online. You're either wealthy, own bonsai like artwork and go to the nursery where the bonsai are maintained to "visit your trees" and discuss health, training, pot selection, etc. with the caregivers...or you're a caregiver in a nursery. He also mentioned that a lot of the caregivers really don't get online much; hard to imagine.

Pure conjecture: I also get the distinct impression that there is not the debate or give and take or reasons why on most of the issues we debate here. "It's done this way, and it will continue to be done this way..." I doubt most of the guys who've been working with bonsai for decades, and whose families have done it for generations are remotely curious about what we think should be done with our trees.

I suppose this may be one reason why the japanese also don't usually do demonstrations? If it truly is like the above quote and was like that here, I don't think I would be interested in bonsai. I enjoy caring for my trees and watching them grow and even just seeing them daily. There's much more of a sense of accomplishment as opposed to just owning a beautiful bonsai or painting (in my opinion).

I also wonder if the japanese professionals don't prefer it this way. I assume the current situation is more lucrative and interesting than selling starter material and teaching beginner workshops.

Chris
 
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I don't agree with your opinion about English level in Japan. Written English of the educated Japanese is generally better than their conversational skills because writing, reading (with katakana pronunciation), grammar tests are much more taught than conversation.
A few years ago, a study showed that more than half of the English teachers in Japan had never spoken english with a native speaker..!
But as said before, younger people with better English skills don't do bonsai generally.
 

bonsaiTOM

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What a shame - how much longer will the elderly live on? Who will care for the 'owners' bonsai when the old folks are all gone? Will future Asian youth be sent to apprentice with Western bonsai masters?
 
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Si Nguyen

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Will future Asian youth be sent to apprentice with Western bonsai masters?
He he! That's funny! But it is true already. But there's nothing wrong with this scenario. It's art. Let it evolve.
 
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Si Nguyen

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Interesting question! There are thousands of bonsai hobbyist in America, including many asians like Japanese-American, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, and so on, and most of them don't care for the internet forums. Their English must be ok but they just don't care to be here. Our little club in Orange County had over a hundred members at one time. We asked how many go on line for their bonsai info, and less than 5% responded yes. The people who frequent these forums are enthusiastic about the hobby and can't get enough of it. They have the need to be stimulated frequently. The old people doing bonsai don't tend to have this craving. They can look at the same tree for months. We young people get bored too quickly.
 
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I would tend to think as well that perhaps it is a cultural thing... I think we westerners perhaps tend to be more open with complete strangers, about what we do in our personal lives, or our jobs.

I also remember when living and traveling abroad, how very few computers I saw. I remember seeing signs, but very rarely for internet cafes... but when one looked inside, only westerners, or younger people were to be found.
When one went to a hotel, they plopped the sign-in register book in front of you, and everything, besides the cash register was written. Now I am not talking about thrid world countries, which I have been to as well, I am talking about countries like, England, France, Germany, Italy, Austrailia, etc.
For them, the old way seemed to be working just fine, so why change...

Besides aren't the younger generations in Japan, into Snowboarding, Heavy Metal, Rap, 1964 Impalas, Tatoos, and Drift Car Racing anyways ???
Don't seem to see much conversation from the Chinese either, perhaps this has to do with a "crackdown" on internet usage ???
Have however seen alot from countries like Thailand and Vietnam.
 

Si Nguyen

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Don't seem to see much conversation from the Chinese either, perhaps this has to do with a "crackdown" on internet usage ???
Have however seen alot from countries like Thailand and Vietnam.

I hear the internet in Japan is cheap but not as cheap as in this country. And it is definitely very expensive in other asian countries including for most of China. So they might lurk but not spend time posting. I have an old bonsai friend who don't have internet at home, many of our seniors are like that, so he uses the public library everyday and read BonsaiNut but he never have enough time to post anything.
I know for sure that China and Vietnam monitor all net traffic. If we start a few threads here about anti-communist topics, then for sure those governments would block their people from coming on here.

Hey BNut! Listening? Why don't you post a map of the world like some other forum where it will show which country people are logging in from? Then we do a few anti-communist government topics, then watch as they stopped logging on.
 

rich415

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I would have to agree with the age theory as well. My wife is Japanese ( we are in our early 30's) and when I started getting into bonsai, she said that was "shibui." When I asked what that meant she couldn't quite translate it but said it was "old, plain, drab... etc."

I later came across the same term in one of Naka's books. He explains pot selection and that the proper pot must be Shibui. I guess for the older generation shibui is a complement but the newer generation think of it and bonsai as old fashioned.

I also think westerners love to discuss things over and over and over...way more than the Japanese do.

Just my limited thoughts,

Rich
 

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