Otafuko-San and the Samarai

Otafuko-San and the Samurai are spirits that live in my house. They inhabit these small toys. They were very happy when we rescued this bonsai jade tree. They often meet below the tree and exchange haiku.

the breeze is gentle

and soothes the lonely spirits

until the jade tree


Guest Blog Post Sam, Bonsai Experiment


Sam Cherry Trees 2015-4

Hi my name is Sam and I am a guest blogger here on sanseilife.  I am also Paula’s brother. My story?

Both our parents grew up on farms and definitely had green thumbs.  My sister and I are city dwellers but we both like to watch plants grow.

Eating yummy cherries about a year ago I noticed the large pile of seeds I had accumulated and decided I would start my own grove of cherry trees.  Out of about 100 seeds I tried to get to take root, only 3 took root and only these two survived.   Just to get 3 seeds to root took about 3 months.  I used a process known as “stratification”.  First they lived in the freezer for about a month and then moved to the refrigerator for about two months.

Almost had given up on them until one day I noticed three of them were starting to crack their outer coverings….then a couple of days later I saw the roots starting to form….then I planted them in some soil and watched them carefully for about a week….  One did not make it, but these two did.

I am waiting for them to get about a foot tall and will use them for my first attempt at bonsai.  They are already a year old and slow growing.  I only use the most expensive and high tech containers.  The one on the right is a won ton soup container from our favorite Chinese take out place.

Sam Lemon Trees 2015-4

These are lemon trees also from seeds from fruit bought at the grocery store.  These were easier to start then the cherry trees.  All I had to do was to remove the outer covering from the seeds and put them in between some wet paper towels in a plastic baggie.  After about a week of leaving them in my kitchen storage closet (cool and dark) they started to take root….almost all of them….very easy.

I have heard that these will produce lemons when they to grow big enough.  I’m going to see if I can get these to produce fruit for me.

If you look real close you can see a ghost in the picture on the left!


Sam Apple Tree 2015-4

This is my apple tree that I started about two years ago.  It was doing really well until I accidentally bought some soil that had some little flying insects in it which infected all my plants.  The way to get rid of them was to let the soil in the plants dry out to stop the cycle of the laying eggs.  Well, this plant was near death after that but it is starting to recover.

This is one of my fancier containers, notice the fancy design around the rim.

Since it is already miniaturized I am going to try bonsai with it too.  I like the bend in the “trunk” near the bottom.  This little guy already has character.



Bonsai Living With Me!



This bonsai jade plant came to live with me about a week ago.

The owner was not sure how to take care of it as it was a gift. The poor tree came to me with hard impacted soil in many many dead leaves.


After just a week it already looks much better cleaning away the dead leaves and trimming off some overgrowth.


I didn’t think the poor little companion bush was going to make it but it looks like he is going to pull through. There are signs that there was once two bushes and now only one is left.   It also appears there was some kind of moss on a portion of the hill and I’m hoping that it will come back too.

Bonsai Display From Hina Matsuri Festival


Bonsai, living art displayed at the Hina Matsuri Festival.   Do you feel the cold wind sweeping across this tree?  Pulling it to one side day after day as it attempts to reach to the sky.



These plants growing in harmony with driftwood and rocks.


The display on the right is a grove of trees.  The roots are exposed in the neagiri style.  Perhaps they were caught in a flood or tsunami which washed the soil away and left the roots uncovered and only protected by nature.


Pictures From Past Hina Matsuri Festivals


This is the doll exhibit room.  Families from the Japanese community and others exhibit their dolls each year in March in Arvada, Colorado.  Free and open to the public.

Having this extraordinary collection of dolls in one place is an amazing experience.

I am a sansei or third generation and I am just learning about the dolls myself.  Please excuse me if I have some of the facts wrong, I would appreciate your corrections.  I have no one to learn from except the Internet!


Here is an example of one altar, the Emperor and Empress are in the center top.  The members of their court arranged below them.

The lower steps are in this order:  three Court Ladies (with sake equipment); five Musicians; two Ministers (one old and wise the other one young); the three protectors or Samurai; items from inside the palace; and the bottom platform, items used outside the palace (lacquer food boxes for trips) or items from outside the palace.


This is a display of origami for sale to the public.

hina Matsuri 2

There will also be a table where you can learn simple origami and a table where your name will be written in Japanese characters.

hina Matsuri 1

Here is another example of the Emperor and Empress. Behind them is a folding screen.  The round table holds sweet treats.  The diamond table holds diamond shaped rice cakes.


There will also be flower arranging displays, bonsai displays and live entertainment also free of charge.

Bento lunch boxes will be offered for sale in the early afternoon while supplies last.

Hope to see you there and here is a link to more information for March 2016.

Arigato gosaimasu!