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2014 Blog Posts


Using the Feather Stainless Steel DE razor

29th December 2014 : Part of my responsibilities, as Big Cheese at Niwaki, involves constant product testing. It's hard work, believe me. Recently I took it upon myself to get to grips with the Feather DE Stainles Steel razor - and boy, what fun it's been.  The trouble with DE razors is that nothing goes wrong with… Read More

Using the Feather Stainless Steel DE razor


3rd December 2014 : Managed to grab some time to explore a nearby goyle recently - a nice respite from the the shortening days, lenghtening working hours and general build up to Christmas that is well and truely upon us. So nice to see so much green at this time of the year. What's a goyle? It's the west country… Read More


Garden Scissors

7th November 2014 : It's been a long wait, but our Okatsune Garden Scissors are finally back in stock. It turns out Okatsune make only one batch per year of this model, and had an unexpected sales-glut in the summer, so we just had to sit back and wait...   Read More

Garden Scissors

Niwaki in Norway

4th November 2014 : Our friends at Hole ArtCenter in Norway have just done up their Oslo showroom. Now if only we could get Niwaki HQ looking as good as that... Read More

Niwaki in Norway

Tetsuhiro Kitchen Knives

3rd November 2014 : We've just got in a great set of starter knives from Tetsuhiro. They're stainless steel, so slightly more forgiving than our carbon range, and a great introduction to the weight and feel of Japanese Knives. Choose the Santoku as an all rounder, the Nakiri for veg (although they're interchangeable… Read More

Tetsuhiro Kitchen Knives

Sneak Preview

25th October 2014 : It's that time of year again - leaves falling, days shortening, socks thickening - and that can only mean one thing: the imminent arrival of a new Niwaki brochure (tentatively entitled 2015, but we're waiting on confirmation on that). So, to raise excitement levels in anticipation, here's a few… Read More

Niwaki Brochure

Japanese Food Workshop

27th September 2014 : We are excited to invite you to a morning of Japanese food with Teruko Chagrin (Dorset’s answer to Nobu!) Teruko specialises in combining Japanese recipes and techniques with fresh local ingredients - mostly from the Shaftesbury Farmers’ Market - to create delicious, healthy and beautifully… Read More

Japanese Food Workshop

Fan Cut Aubergine

13th September 2014 : Here's ougigiri nasu - fan cut aubergine, with the amazing Masashi Kobo polished Santoku Read More

Fan Cut Aubergine 4

Tree Trip to Japan

31st August 2014 : There's a tree-obsessed trip to Japan in danger of not happening this October, unless one or two more people sign up for it. Please head over to Canopy Spirit's page for more info, but basically, if you like the idea of an organised trip to Japan, based pretty heavily around trees, this is for… Read More

Tree Trip to Japan

Pine Pruning

29th August 2014 : Before, During, After...Pinus sylvestris getting its autumn prune at the Niwaki nursey. It had got rather shaggy over the summer...   Read More

Pine Pruning 1

Ooh la la

12th August 2014 : Back from a quick trip to France, to find a package of samples from Japan awaiting me. Have a peek at these new knives from Masashi Kobo, a Gyuto and Petty in SLD Damascus steel. Ooh la la.     Read More

masashi kobo

Bergerac Vineyards

7th August 2014 : Read More

Les Vignobles de Bergerac

Warner Tree Management

26th July 2014 : Berni and his gang from Warner Tree Management came round recently for a photo-op. As usual with this lot, there was a fair bit of horsing about, some pretty serious facial hair, and an exceptionally high level of pruning going on. More to come in the next Niwaki brochure… Read More

Warner Tree Management 1

Training a Yew - a short film.

6th July 2014 : In which Jake has his merry way with a young yew, and demonstrates his favorite knot... Niwaki Pruning from Jake Hobson on Vimeo.   Read More

Training a Yew - a short film.

Bamboo Pruning: Red & Purple

5th July 2014 : Who says red and purple don't go? Pruned bamboo somewhere in Chiba Read More

Bamboo Pruning: Red & Purple

Tobisho A-Type: Are You Up To The Challenge?

25th June 2014 : We couldn't resist adding to the Tobisho range when we came across these Blue Paper Steel A-Type secateurs on our visit to the Tobisho workshop in the spring. It's pretty unusual to use Blue Steel in this kind of tool: it's super sharp and holds its edge well, but is a bit more brittle and needs… Read More

Tobisho A-Type

A field, somewhere.

17th June 2014 : Some views from the Niwaki nursery, hidden away in the depths of Dorset. Mostly Pinus sylvestris, one P thunbergii.   Read More

bendy trunk

Dai Sugi in Dorset

7th June 2014 : You'll know by now that I'm a big fan of Dai Sugi - Cryptomeria japonica pruned the Kyoto way. I've been working on a few at home, and they're finally starting to do their thing in our garden in Shaftesbury. In front are some box waves, kindly donated as bits of an old parterre hedge, that have… Read More

Dai Sugi in Dorset

Tokyo Disney Land

25th May 2014 : The long awaited report from Disney Land... Disney Bubbles View from the boat ride - lots of unusual (for me) evergreens Maki drum Schoolboys with Chinese Junipers Cubist Maki Olive UPT (unidentified pruned tree) the view from a ride... and this being Disney, it wasn't… Read More

Tokyo Disney Land view

Tobisho Secateurs Back in Stock

15th May 2014 : Why are the Tobisho Secateurs always out of stock? Well, actually, right now, they aren't - we've just got some in - but being hand-forged, they take a fair bit of time to make, and Tobsiho have a constant backlog of orders to fullfil. Here's an insight into their production process, from when we… Read More

Tobisho secateurs 1

Aerial Clutter

12th May 2014 : The one thing about Japan if trees are your thing - you're never far from a good bit aerial clutter. Here are some of the best from our Easter trip:         Read More

Aerial Clutter - sugi

Niwaki Open Day

9th May 2014 :  It's all kicking off at Niwaki HQ tomorrow morning! Come and join us if you're nearby. Read More

Niwaki Open Day

The Iwasaki Workshop

2nd May 2014 : I was very privileged to get to meet the remarkable Mr Iwasaki in his workshops in Sanjo, Niigata, earlier this month. Iwasaki makes just one product - a traditional razor , that's reckoned by keen wet shavers to be just about the finest out there. Production has been handed over to Mr Mizuochi… Read More

Mr Iwaksaki

Pine Pruning at Nanshu-ji

30th April 2014 : While out in Japan I was lucky enough to tag along with my cousin's landscape team during a pine pruning session at Nanshu temple in Sakai. The trees were getting a once-every-three-years cut back, so it was pretty dramatic stuff, involving long reach cherry pickers, lots of ladders, an awful lot… Read More

Pine Pruning at Nanshu-ji 1

Filming at the Wabi Sabi workshops

27th April 2014 : A fun afternoon last week spent filming Andy and Ivan at the Wabi Sabi workshop near Chichester. Andy spoke about  the significance of Japanese woodworking tools, while Ivan demonstrated sharpening with Shapton Glass Series stones and did a bit of chisel work. Later on Andy demonstrated how to set… Read More

Japanese chisels

Chiyoda's Silliest Pine

24th April 2014 : This is one of my favorite pines in all of Japan. It's on the main road through Chiyoda, and acts as a sort of pergola, sort of shading/roof in the tradition of the monkaburi. It makes me laugh everytime I see it - but look at the intricacy and detail in the bottom picture. Extraordinary.  … Read More

Chiyoda's Silliest Pine 1

Tombow Colour Pencils

23rd April 2014 : Check out this gorgeous collection of coloured pencils from Tombow   Read More

Tombo Colour Pencils

Mizuma dera

21st April 2014 : A quick cherry blossom trip to this nice temple on a chilly day early in April. Podocarpus macrophyllus in each view.  These are the loos!     Read More

Mizuma dera Cherry Bllssom

Nanten-en Onsen

19th April 2014 : During our trip to Japan I had a quick look around an onsen ryokan called Nanten-En in Amami, a village near Kawachinagano. It was a grey, chilly day and felt rather winterey - but the cherry blossom was doing it's thing.        Read More

Nanten-en Onsen pine

Mazda, Honda, Daihatsu

8th April 2014 : Mazda, Honda, Daihatsu Podocarpus macrophyllus and Pinus thunbergii. Chiyoda, Osaka. Read More

Tumblr Image

Not bad for the loos.

5th April 2014 : Not bad for the loos. Read More

Not bad for the loos.

Rather Fine Dai Sugi

28th March 2014 : Anyone who knows me knows that Dai Sugi are never far from my mind. In fact, sugi was the first tree name our boy Digby learned. Here are 3 old scanned pictures from Kyoto. Cryptomeria japonica (usually var radicans in this case) is one of the few conifers that sprouts well when cut back hard… Read More

dai sugi 1


27th March 2014 : Planning our next trip to Japan - hopefully to coincide with a bit of cherry blossom - I came across these pictures from a previous, early November, trip. Tondabyashi, not the most remarkable of towns, is full of surprises:     Read More

Tondabayashi 1

Marqueyssac Revisted - in the mist

19th March 2014 : A misty morning in the Dordogne, almost five years ago: I think I've got the spelling right, but don't ask me to pronounce it. I'd arrived early to try and get nice early morning light, but instead got heavy mist until about 10 in the morning. Very atmospheric. I think this last image of… Read More

Marqueysaac Revisted - in the mist

Japanese Zen Gardens: a review

10th March 2014 : I was asked to review Yoko Kawaguchi's new book Japanese Zen Gardens (Frances Lincoln) by Anne Wareham at Thinkingardens.  Here's what I had to say. Picture of Ryoan-ji by Alex Ramsay taken from the Telegraph  New books on Japanese gardens fill me with anticipation, a mixture of excitement and… Read More

Japanese Zen Gardens: a review

Plans for the weekend?

23rd February 2014 : Doing a quick shop at the supermarket yesterday morning, the friendly lady at the till asked if I had any plans for the weekend. I decided it was none of her business that we were taking the boy to a birthday party, and I also reasoned that she'd be unimpressed by the plans I had in store for an… Read More

holly pruning 1

Fake Box, Real Box

19th February 2014 : Hmm, thought I knew where I stood on fake plants, but driving through Wilton recently, now I'm not sure! (Postscript: in case it's not clear, the first picture is fake box, and looks fantastic to me. The second picture is real box and looks miserable.)   Read More

Real Box

The Story Behind the Niwaki Tripod Ladder

11th February 2014 : The story behind our Japanese Tripod Ladders goes something like this: Jake, intrepid adventurer that he was in those days, is in Japan. Why? That's another story, hinted at here, but Japan it is, working at the Furukawa nursery in a small village called Kannan Cho, near the town of Tondabayashi… Read More


Pine branches - straight or bendy.

2nd February 2014 : Everyone loves pines, we know that, but what about these elongated branches? Dead straight or bendy? Both in Kyoto, can't remember where. Read More

monkaburi pine 1

Rootballing a Japanese White Pine

29th January 2014 : Nosing around a nursery on a recent trip to Japan I came across this white pine (Pinus parviflora) being rootballed, probably for sale. It's growing in a typical village-style nursery field, basically an empty lot between houses, as a monkaburi tree, trained over the gateway. In fact it might have… Read More

Rootballing a Japanese White Pine 1

Hardcore Tree Pruning, Japan - where else?

26th January 2014 : As everyone knows, they do like a bit of pruning in Japan. These fellas are gingkos, in the car park of the Anpanman Museum. I think they were cut back for the transplanting process, and perhaps won't be regularly pruned once they're established. The hessian wrapping cuts down on transpiration… Read More


Read All About It

24th January 2014 : Ann-Marie Powell's bit in February's English Garden mag, on the glorious Golden Spade   Read More

Read All About IT

Men in Trees

22nd January 2014 : Following a few comments on FaceBook about a photo I posted (do feel free to like, follow and share our FaceBook page, by the way - it's a hoot) a photo of Japanese gardeners at work in the Adachi Museum, and comments asking where all the women were, here is another, very typical view of gardeners… Read More

Men in Trees

Goodness Gracious

14th January 2014 : Who's the lovely fella? Drop in to Niwaki HQ, snag some string, and find out! Read More

Goodness Gracious

Where it all began

10th January 2014 : This is Futoshi Yoshioka, or Yoshioka Futoshi, depending on how Japanese you are. His family business, Asuka Noen, was one of the places I worked and trained during my time in Japan, and it's people like him who inspired my obsession with pruning. You can probably see why - this is one of many… Read More

Where it all began

Japanese Tree Pruning

5th January 2014 : The term niwaki seems to be creeping in to the horticultural lexicon a bit now, with people even using it as a verb (I niwakied a yew yesterday) but it still seems misunderstood by most, rather like its euro equivalent, cloud pruning.  It translates literally as garden tree, but Niwaki, for me… Read More

Japanese Tree Pruning

Now and Then

2nd January 2014 : We were visiting our friends at Wabi Sabi near Chichester the other day, and swung by our old house out of curiosity. They'd removed the holm oak (Qurcus ilex) and the loquat (Eriobotrya japonica), but the maki (Podocarpus macrophyllus) and the (no common name that I know of, it's so unusual)… Read More


From the Niwaki vaults

1st January 2014 : HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone Some scanned photos from yesteryear, of a mediterranean bent: Gourdes, in Provence and somewhere in Tuscany Read More


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