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Red Pine Pruning at the Furukawa Nursery

During our visit to Japan last autumn I dropped in on the Furukawa nursery in Kannan cho, Osaka, where I trained more than ten years ago. Furukawa grow a wide range of trees, and are well known for, amongst other things,their sequoias and olives, but it’s the red pines we’re here for today, Pinus densiflora.
Usually these are trained and shaped, but Furukawa are keen advocates of the recent interest in more ‘natural’ trees, and prune their akamatsu slightly differently. They don’t train at all, and don’t try to build up the strong branch structure that one might think of as typically Japanese. Instead they thin - thin branches and pluck needles.
The business is run by three brothers, but the red pines are all pruned by this one guy, whose name alas I forget, who spends ‘most of the year’ up in his crane cage, snipping away with a pair of uekibasami scissors. Watching him work was fascinating - slow but efficent, thoughtful but decisive. I guess if this is all you did every day you’d develop a certain confidence...
This happened to be autumn, but there are too many trees to limit pruning to the ‘right’ time of year - the larger trees take most of the day, as he is often interrupetd and called to join on other jobs. Starting from the top, he thins each branch, then plucks off most of the needles, leaving only the very freshest. As he finishes a section he scrapes the bark with the back of his scissors, exposing any insects hiding away.
I’ve posted a couple of short clips on you tube here and here

Japanese Red Pine
Japanese Red Pine 1
Japanese Red Pine 2
Japanese Red Pine Gardener