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Inside the VJCC

Marina Bonsai Club

By Steven Sharp

Photo of Bonsai Club members When you drive down a street here in Los Angeles, look around. You will probably see at least one tree that looks as if it has been carefully trained to look the way it does. These trees are shaped in the style of bonsai. Bonsai is the ancient art of pruning and cutting a tree until it reaches a desired shape, then maintaining that shape while the tree's roots are contained in a tray. There is a club at our Community Center whose members do this as a hobby. It is the Marina Bonsai Club.

The Bonsai Club has about twenty-five members: five teachers, and twenty students. The teachers are Mr. Frank Goya, Mr. Mas Moriguchi, Mr. Ben Oki, Mr. Tsuruo Takata and Mr. Shig Miya (whom I interviewed for this article). The members of the club are very diverse. There are Japanese, Chinese, Caucasians, Hispanics, men and women, retirees and thirty-somethings. Some live in the neighborhood and spend five minutes walking to the Community Center. Others come from as far as Pasadena and spend a whole hour driving. One thing that they have in common is they all enjoy the art of bonsai.

The Bonsai Club is an off-shoot of the Marina Gardeners Association. The members of the club wanted to learn how to shape trees for their customers, so the Bonsai Club was formed some forty-odd years ago. Mr. John Naka taught the first members. Now, four decades later, some of the people who were his students are teaching the art themselves.

The art of bonsai is anything but simple. The person cutting the tree must know what shape they want to achieve. They must compensate for the fact that the tree will change over time. They must examine it closely, know what branches to leave, and what to cut. They must be patient, since the trees grow very slowly.

Mr. Miya feels the Bonsai Club will continue growing. The interest in bonsai has spread worldwide across generations and cultures. He believes that the future generations of our community will keep the club and the Center relevant. As far as future bonsai teachers go, Mr. Miya thinks every student in the class should be able to teach one day; there are a few who grasp it well enough to teach right now.

The Marina Bonsai Club meets on the second Friday and fourth Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM. Club membership is seventy dollars per year. If you are interested, come by the Community Center and check it out or contact the VJCC office.

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Visions for the VJCC

by Steven Sharp

Photo of Jim Akioka Jim Akioka has been active with the Center since the early 1970's. He has been the VJCC President, VJCC Manager and serves on the VJCC Board of Directors. Additionally, he has been the CBO Commissioner for baseball and basketball and VYC President.

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Mission Statement
To preserve, share and promote the Japanese and Japanese-American culture and heritage, and provide for the needs and interests of the Japanese-American community through education and instruction.
©2006 Venice Japanese Community Center
All rights reserved.
12448 Braddock Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90066
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