Juan started Bonsai when he was 15 years old. He took one basic course but was left hungering for more, so he started a personal quest to devour every bit of Bonsai information he could find. He started frequenting Bonsai conventions since 2007 on the hope that somehow he would find a contact in Japan.
In the meanwhile, he pursued a college degree in Tropical Biology. It may not come as a surprise, but the decision to study plants was always motivated by Bonsai. Most of his college courses focused on plant physiology and anatomy. Back then, he needed answers to understand how plants work, and these answer were not found in Bonsai books.
It took Juan almost a decade of knocking on doors for a chance to visit Japan, until he eventually met Peter Tea in California, his future sempai. Soon after that meeting, Peter went off to Japan to start his apprenticeship under Junichiro Tanaka, owner of AichiEn, one the oldest Bonsai nurseries in Japan. Peter started a visiting apprentice program in 2011 in which Juan participated.
Six months later, Peter was looking for a replacement since he was graduating early! Juan quickly sent him an email stating his intentions and everything just fell into place after that. He sold all his possessions back home (including his Bonsai collection) and came to Aichi-En (Japan) in May of 2013. It was not until he saw and worked on good Japanese Bonsai that feel accomplished on his Bonsai path. On May 2016 Tanaka-san felt he was ready to leave Aichi-En and start his own Bonsai Business. Since then, Juan has been working as a traveling Bonsai Artist. Juan has been a three time World Bonsai Convention Demonstrator (Puerto Rico, China, Japan) and worked in Bonsai in multiple countries.
His Bonsai philosophy is learn, learn, and learn. And then practice, practice, practice! Never discount any piece of information just because you don’t like the source. Be open, not judgemental. Be informed, not opinionated. Learn from experience and not from hearsay. He’d prefer to be a student of Bonsai for life rather than a “Master” who stopped evolving, learning and improving.
College: BsC. in Biology, Costa Rica University (2006)
Languages: Spanish, English, basic Japanese.
II. Bonsai Education
2005. Bonsai Techniques Workshop. Pedro Morales. Costa Rica.
2006. Bonsai Design Workshop. Pedro Morales. Costa Rica.
2007. Intensive Workshop. Boon Manakitivipart (1 week, 2 intensive courses). Florida. USA
2008. Bonsai Techniques Workshop, Shinichi Nakajima. Costa Rica.
2008. Intensive Workshop. Boon Manakitivipart (2 weeks, 3 intensives courses). California, USA.
2011. European Bonsai School. Salvatore Liporace. Costa Rica.
2011. Tropical Bonsai School 1st year. Pedro Morales. Costa Rica.
2011. Tropical de Bonsai School 2nd year. Pedro Morales. Costa Rica.
2012. 3 month apprenticeship trial at Aichi-En, under Junichiro Tanaka, supervised by Peter Tea. Nagoya, Japan.
2012. Tropical Bonsai School (3rd and 4th years). Pedro Morales. Puerto Rico.
2012-2015. Accepted as a full-time Bonsai apprentice under Junichiro Tanaka, Nagoya, Japan.
III. Professional Experience
2005. Instructor: Bonsai Basics Course. Costa Rica University.
2009. Instructor: Introduction to Bonsai. Costa Rican Bonsai Association.
2009. Demonstrator: World Bonsai Convention. Highlighted as the youngest demonstrator and the only professional Bonsai artist from Central America. Received public praise for his work by Bonsai Master Shinji Suzuki and assisted him in both of his demonstrations. Puerto Rico.
2010. Starts professional Bonsai work in Costa Rica, dealing mainly with the development and maintenance of private Bonsai collections. Bonsai trees from his students consistently begin to receive top awards at the National Bonsai Exhibit.
2011. Demonstrator: Notable Bonsai Masters Event. Venezuela.
2012. Personal Collection Exhibit: XIII International Arts Festival. Costa Rica.
2012. Seminar and Workshop: “Junipers in Tropical climates”. Puerto Rico.
2013. Seminar and Workshop: “Junipers in Tropical climates”. Panama.
2013. Demonstrator: World Bonsai Convention. China.
2014. Demonstrator: XI Latinamerican Bonsai Federation Convention. Puerto Rico.
2005. Ben Oki International Design Award. First Runner Up. Bonsai Clubs International, USA.
2005. World Bonsai Contest. Japan Airlines. Honorable Mention.
2007. FELAB New Talent Contest. 2nd place. Puerto Rico.
2007. Knowledge of Bonsai Forums Progressive Styling Contest. First place in 4 out of 5 categories.
2008. Recognition to Excellence. Costa Rican Bonsai Association. Costa Rica.
2009. X Nation Bonsai Exhibit. Best Bonsai with a native species. Costa Rica.
2012. XIV National Bonsai Exhibit. First and second plane in Professional Category. Students obtain first and second place in Amateur Category. Costa Rica