Myth of Sushi Grade Fish

What is sushi grade fish?

There are several common misconceptions regarding what is “sushi grade” fish floating around the internet.  Some are so common, they are repeated over and over, both in articles and by the zillion comments people leave behind.  I’ve decided to tackle a few of the most common misconceptions and state why it’s a myth and my own personal opinions.

Myth 1: “Sushi Grade”

The term “Sushi Grade Fish” is a marketing term seafood retailers tag onto their products so they can command a higher price.  It is not a registered term by any federal agency and should not be used blindly as a guarantee for safety or freshness.

I’ve personally seen big box stores sell vacuumed packed frozen whole fish labelled as “sushi grade” only to look at the fine print on the product to see a “Not recommended to be consumed raw” warning.

Conversely, there is another fish retailer close to my house that sells fresh whole fish that can certainly be served as sushi even though they are not explicitly labelled as “sushi grade” fish.  I usually ask the fish monger that I’m explicitly consuming it raw and he will point me to his recommendations.

I won’t go into detail on what a “fresh fish” is.  This in itself requires another blog article!  In the meantime, you can find very good instructional guides to tell if a fish is fresh on the internet.

That doesn’t mean you should totally ignore fish that have been labelled “sushi grade”.  At reputable retailers, this is used to describe fish that they believe is of i) High enough quality to eat raw and ii) handled in a way to minimize parasite and bacterial contamination.

Myth 2: “Previously Frozen”

Another common myth is that “Sushi Grade”  means it was previously frozen to kill parasites.

“Sushi grade” does not mean the fish was previously frozen.  Not all fish are required to be frozen before eaten raw.  For example, depending on the source, bluefin tuna can safely consumed without prior freezing.

The FDA maintains a guideline which describes the risks for parasites in common fish species used for sushi.  It also publishes best practices that restaurants and retailers should follow if they wish to serve raw fish.  This includes instructions on length of freezing and temperature.

Myth 3: “It’s the law”

Yet another myth is that the United States and Canada have federal laws concerning the freezing of sushi grade fish before selling to the public.

Both the US and Canada do not have federal level laws that state raw fish must be frozen before serving to the public.  As mentioned previously, the FDA publishes guidelines, but these are not enforced at the federal level.  It is up to individual municipalities and counties to optionally use the FDA guidelines when enacting their local laws.

This means you may eat previously frozen fish in New York City (which requires some species of fish to be frozen), but that fish may not have been previously frozen in another city.

Myth 4:  Always Eat Fresh, Never Frozen Fish

Unless you live by the ocean, most wild fish consumed will have been previously frozen at some time in its processing.  Many times, fish are flash frozen (frozen at very cold temperatures very quickly after initial processing) at sea, right on the boat.  They are then shipped in very cold temperatures to their destination where they are thawed (by the wholesaler or retailer/restaurant) and are either sold as is, cut into smaller chunks, or served to restaurant customers.

Sometimes, fish are labelled as “IQF”.  This means the fish was individually “quick” frozen at very cold tempters (around -35c).  This is way colder than home fridges can obtain and these cold temperatures helps lock in freshness.

Though many people believe fresh is best, flash frozen fish is often just as good as fresh fish.  One additional benefit about consuming flash frozen fish is that most parasites are killed off by the cold temperatures.  But this depends on the type of fish and the freezing mechanism.

Myth 5: A Clean Seafood Store

To minimize bacteria growth, fish needs to be handled properly all the way though the supply chain.  Not just at the seafood retailer.  The fish mongers I purchase sushi fish from all have pretty high standards in terms of their OWN handling of “sushi grade” fish.  Fish for raw consumption are usually not processed on the same line as “non-sushi grade” fish and if cut into fillets, are packaged in individually wrapped trys.  This is opposed to the fillets stacked on top of each other on an open bed of ice.

However, even with these fish retailers, they often receive pre-gutted whole fish from their suppliers.  This means the fish has already been processed and handled in some way and it is almost impossible for the consumer to know if the supplier handled “sushi grade” fish appropriately.  Some retailers check with their supplier on fish they intend to mark as “sushi grade” but others do not.

It really comes down to asking questions and trusting the fish monger.

Myth 6: Sustainable Fish

Some websites and stores say that part of “sushi grade” means that it comes from a sustainable source.  They also say that non-sustainable fish such as bluefin tuna are high in mercury and should not be eaten.

The term sushi grade does NOT have anything to do with the sustainability of the fish species.  Though it is true that bluefin tuna have higher concentration of mercury and should be eaten in limited quantities, the term “sushi grade” does not pertain to this.

Myth 7: Trusting the Store

Some fish mongers take great pride in the quality they provide to their customers.  They know their product well and sell fresh seafood.  However, this is usually applies only to the store owner and experienced staff.  At big box stores and even local high quality seafood retailers, I’ve dealt with staff that have little or no seafood experience.  So you do need some common sense when you talk to the person behind the counter.  Make sure they know what they are talking about.

Myth 8: Japanese store

Some youtubers and blog posts recommend always going to a Japanese fish store. This is hogwash.  I’m Japanese Canadian and have a couple very good Japanese seafood retailers that I frequent, however, I still sometimes purchase fish I’m going to make sushi from non-Japan (non-asian) seafood stores.

Myth 9: Fresh = Good Taste

Freshness does not guarantee a tasty fish.

High end Japanese restaurants look for more than just freshness when looking for fish to serve raw.  Some fish species, like bluefin tuna, have a high level of flavor and texture variation even among fresh fish.  It is up to the skills of the chef to determine which fish will produce good sushi/sashimi.  Remember sushi and sashimi is more than just eating fresh raw fish.  It also involves the preparation and processing of the fish (among other ingredients) to create a high quality meal.

Myth 10: Only Eat Sushi at a Restaurant.

There are some fear mongering websites that state that you should only eat sushi at a restaurant.  They often tout that:

  • Regular people do not have the skills to find fresh fish
  • Are not trained to detect parasites
  • Do not have the still to make sushi and sashimi.

This is just ridiculous.  We’ve all seen sketchy sushi restaurants on the side of the road.  Just because it is served at a restaurant does not mean it is high quality.  Though it is true that consuming raw fish has its risks, if you follow the best practices, you will be limiting your risk to a negligible amount.

And finally, though I have heard of some sushi chefs saying “always eat sushi at a restaurant” , most chefs encourage having fun and preparing sushi at home.  Sure it might not look as nice or taste as good, but if you have fresh fish, keep it cool and have fun, that is what life is all about.

Beware that some YouTube channels that show you how make “sushi at home” are actually operated by (or have partnerships) with  online fish stores selling highly marked up “mail order sushi grade fish”.  They often over stress the need to buy fish only labeled as “sushi grade” (which we have just proved false by the arguments above) and try and scare viewers to purchase their product.

Myth 11: Higher Price is Better

Higher price does not always equate to better quality “sushi grade fish”.  Where I live, there are some Japanese fish stores that sell really high quality fresh fish, but their prices are quite expensive.  After much researching, I found a couple other non-asian fish mongers that not only sell fish of the same quality, but also have more variety!

Final Comments

Be wary of blindly trusting what people say in the comments section about “sushi grade”.  You don’t know who they are and where they got that information.  Don’t be fooled into only buying fish labelled as “sushi grade”.  Not only dose this lead to a sense of false safety, you end up overpaying in the long run.

Don’t compensate by buying non-fresh fish because you really desire to eat that kind of fish for dinner. This is how you get sick.  All your senses are telling you this fish no good for sushi, but if you really want it you are more likely to make a bad decision.  Instead, at the store, ask what is fresh, then of these choices, decide what to purchase.  Go to the store without a decision on fish type.

The key to purchasing “sushi grade” fish is to know your fish monger.  He/She should know where the fish came from and how it was processed before receiving it.   Go to a store that takes pride in selling quality fish products.

  • If buying a whole fish, trust your senses.
  • If the “sushi grade” fish is sold in smaller blocks (without the skin) wrapped in plastic wrap, ask questions. Find out how fresh it truly is.

But in the end, you senses are not enough.  Retailers do everything possible to make fish look fresh, so you need to trust your seafood retailer.  You have to know that fish they are selling has been processed in the best way possible to reduce bacteria and kill off parasites.  If you don’t trust where your food is coming from, I suggest going elsewhere.

Just Add Shoyu

Being Japanese (Canadian), people often ask me what I eat at home and if it is similar to those served at Japanese restaurants. I always have to explain, that Japanese food at a restaurant is quite different then the food prepared at home. For the record, very few Japanese people make their own sushi at home. It is just too time consuming and expensive to gather and prepare all the ingredients (analogous to homemade Dim Sum).

I would say “Japanese Canadian” food is a mixture between traditional “Japanese food”, Chinese, and western foods. Many of the food we eat could be technically be classified as Korean or Chinese, but has become such a staple in Japanese Canadian households that we do consider it part of our culture as well.

In addition, much of the food recipes have been modified to use western ingredients. Take for example, Spam sushi and Japadogs sandwiches.

The Japanese Canadian Cultural Center(JCCC) recently published a cookbook, a project that focuses specifically on Japanese Canadian food. Not only will you find traditional sounding recipes, but also foods from other cultures have become a part of the foods Japanese Canadians eat.

The book was produced using recipes submitted by and produced by countless volunteers within the Japanese community. For example, my aunt was the project manager, my cousin was a principle photographer, and I made their website. This book is more than a regular cookbook as it also describes the personal stores behind the recipes.

The book is now out; you can find it at Chapters and other cookbook stores or directly though the JCCC. The book looks awesome and has some great recipes (including one for my grandfather’s roasted chicken).

Click here to view the official Just Add Shoyu website: Just Add Shoyu

Various reviews of the cookbook:

How to Read a TTC Transfer

The easiest to validate information are the color, date, and route. There is also a tear-off portion at the very top that lets TTC staff check if the transfer was issued during the day or “night” hours. No back-to-back days ever use the same color.

When you climb onto a bus, you often see a bunch of transfers in a holder above the fare box. That holder has metal clips that can slide up and down and cause notches on the transfer when the driver removes one from the holder. In addition to the small notches, the holder also allows the driver to tear the transfer to a specific length.

Along the side of the transfer, you see two columns of numbers. On the left column, you’ll see numbers 5 though 12 and then from 1 though 4. When the driver issues a transfer, it is torn to a specific length. The last number shown at the bottom of the transfer indicates the hour the transfer was issued.

On the right column, there are two digit numbers and the letters U and D. These indicate the minute of the hour the transfer was issued and if the bus/streetcar was going up or down the route.

“U” or “D” refers to “up” or “down”. This represents the direction of travel. Up means north or west and down means south or east. When a driver grabs a transfer, in addition to tearing it to a specific length, these notches indicate the time and direction you were traveling when it was issued.

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Using the example picture on the above, this transfer was issued at 11:15. Since the “night” strip is torn off, it means the ticket was issued at 11:15am. The notch over the D means I was travelling southbound.

The transfers have also been designed so that a person cannot pretend to have the transfer look like it was issued at a later time. This why the hour and minute numbers are ordered in the way they are.

For example, a transfer issued at 7am could not be re-torn to make it look like it was issued at 2pm since the number 7 would have been torn off. Similarly, a 5am transfer could look like one issued at 6pm because at 5pm, the transfers must have the “night” strip on top.

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Buyer Beware!

Groupon and other online-deal sites have been popping up all over the place recently. Like my friends, I’ve also jumped on the band wagon buying coupons and trying out restaurants, etc. Over the past months however, I’ve started hearing grumblings with these coupon sites. I thought I’d collect some of the major issues and post them here. Buyer beware!

Check the Menu Prices

Look at the prices of you menu. Even though the face value coupon may say $20 for $40 (a savings of 50%), it does not necessary mean you will be saving 50% at the end of your meal.

Consider the following example:

Say the meal costs $25 each and you go with your wife. The final bill is $50 and after the coupon, you pay an additional $10 (for simplicity sake, we won’t consider taxes or tips). The total amount you paid is $30 and received $50 of savings. This is only a 33% saving, down from the initial face value of 50%.

Going with friends?

Consider how many people you divide up the coupon. Lets take a look another example: The coupon is the same $20 for $40 and you split it among four friends. Each person pays $5 each. Say the meal costs $15 per person, so the final bill is $60 and everyone pays $5 in addition per person. The final amount each person pays is 10, which turns out to only a 33% savings. This is pretty good, but not the 50% that we began with.

Stated Terms and Conditions

Take a good look at the terms and conditions. Most restaurants allow dine-in only and only to be used during dinner. Others put restrictions on what can be ordered or even go as far as giving users a different “coupon” menu. Many times, these menu’s have been priced to make sure you end up paying additional amounts after the coupon’s discounts.

Unstated Terms and Conditions

Unfortunately, many merchants also enforce unstated terms and conditions that are not originally posted on the deal website. In these cases, your best bet is to try and ask for a refund from the deal site.

Sub-Premium Product

Beware that many theaters will seat coupon users in less-desired seats (such as front rows or seats with obscured views).


Product based companies can state that a particular coupon product is out of stock. Buyers then wait months for their product until the coupon is expired, at which point, they are now left in limbo with the deal site and the retailer.

Businesses are often legitimately overwhelmed due huge volume of buyers redeeming the coupon. This causes crowed restaurants, long lines-ups, and legitimately out-of-stock on coupon items.

Mind the Expiry Date

Some restaurants, salons, and service businesses require you to make reservations and state that you are a coupon user. This is used by unscrupulous businesses to deny you services (stating excuses such as full booking) to try and expire the coupon on you.

Printouts Required

Many sites require you to have a physical printout of the coupon. In the age of smart phones, this is incredibly archaic and the printout isn’t really required since businesses need to keep a record of coupon purchases themselves.

Buyer Beware

Remember the old adage, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”.


In iBomber, you fly a WWII bomber dropping bombs on targets. Simple as that. It is a fun and addticve game. Each mission gives you specific goals such as destroying buildings, ships, or defending your base from the enemy. In addition, it also challenges you to acheving medals on each level. You can get up to 4 medals: <%= image_tag "articles/ibomber/medals.png" %>

You have some control over the speed of the aircraft by gently tilting the iphone forward to go faster backward to go slower. Titling the phone from side to side moves the play right or left. The game has pretty tight controls and is very responsive to minor tilting of the phone.

The regular bombs don’t drop straight down but take into consideration the speed of the aircraft. The faster you’re going, the more momentum will carry the bomb forward. Therefore you have to do some careful estimation before dropping the bomb. After some practice, you’ll know how far before the target you need to drop the bomb depending on the speed of the bomber.

Sometimes when you blow up targets you items will appear. When you click on the items you get either health power-ups or special bombs. As always, powerups always come up in abundance when you don’t need them.

The rocket bombs are good for targeting moving ships or when you are bombing at high speed (such as attacking heavily defended targets). The blockbuster is well, good for nothing. It is OK for bombing buildings. The grandslam is good for blowing up areas with lots of close buildings or large clusters of anti-aircraft guns. On land, even if you don’t hit your target, the explosion will take out surrounding structures. On water, you need to be very precise because if you miss, there will be no damage to surrounding areas.

Click to see my accomplishments in iBomber!

Standard Missions

Mission Pack One

White Tuna?

A staple at most All You Can Eat Japanese(AYCEJ) restaurants, a lot of people do not know that “white tuna” isn’t tuna at all!

Most “white tuna” served at restaurants is actually a fish called “Escolar”. It is rich tasting, oily, meaty fish. It is a mild flavorful with a smooth buttery taste. It is truly a delicious fish, but with one major drawback…

The fish is poisonous. Unable to digest fatty acids in the food it consumes, Escolar accumulates a high concentration of oil in its flesh. When this oil is consumed many people suffer digestive including cramps, diarrhea, headaches, and oily discharge.

As a result, there has been a lot of controversy over this fish. Italy and Japan have banned the sale of Escolar for human consumption and other countries, including Canada, have put warnings regarding the adverse effects of consuming this fish.

Some countries have made it a strong point forcing restaurants to clearly identify Escolar from “white tuna” but here in Canada, this either isn’t the case or not enforced as I see “white tuna” on the menus of restaurants all over the place.

Personally, I’ve never had any side effects (yet) from eating Escolar at sushi restaurants. Knowing what I know now, I have reduced the amount of “white tuna” I eat at any given sitting. The Internet has recommends eating no more than 6 ounces at one time.

Adding to the confusion, there is actually a white tuna. In North America, white tuna typically refers to Albacore tuna, a light fleshed mild tuna which is often used as canned tuna. In the United States, only Albacore tuna may be referred as “white tuna”.

Though many AYCE restaurants serve Escolar, some do serve Albacore tuna. Escolar is typically bright white, but as fish ages, the flesh becomes darker. It has a very oily flesh and creamy buttery flavor. Albacore has a pick
color, and though milder then their bigger cousins (blue fin and yellow fin), it has a bolder, fishier taste then Escolar.

Compounding the misidentification, many fish retailers purposefully mislabel Escolar as Sea Bass, Halibut, and Albacore. When prepared as fillets, Escolar can look very similar as those more expensive species. Your best guard is to buy fish from reputable fishmongers.

So there you have it, “white tuna” is no tuna at all. You can sometimes tell the difference, but I’ve seen older Escolar flesh look very similar to Albacore –so it can be difficult. As mentioned before, I still eat “white tuna” at restaurants, but in very moderate amounts. The next time you are at your favorite AYCE sushi bar, just remember that you may not getting what you expect.

Additional Links

  • I found this blog entry that does a comparsion between Escoloar and Albacore and has good picture references.

    Escolar vs Albacore

My new BBQ!

Last year I bought a gas barbecue and started barbecuing stakes on a regular basics. Cooking with a new bbq is a learning experience and takes some trial and error. Every bbq is different. Some get hot quicker than others, disperse heat at different rates, and each have their own “hot spots”. Once you learn the unique traits of your bbq, you can start grilling the perfect steak.

When I bought my new bbq, I had a tendency of over cooking the steaks so I started jotting down notes on the temperatures and duration I was cooking the stakes. I also noted down the final result. There are tons of articles out on the internet about grilling a good steak, but here is what worked with me:

T-bone, porterhouse, ribeye or NY Strip are my favorite choices for grilling. T-bone and porterhouse steaks can be quite large (and pricey) so if I’m just grilling for myself and I tend to get a small ribeye or NY striplion. My local grocery stores often sell sale NY strip steaks in 4 per pack sale packages which is a great buy.

Regardless of the type of steak, choose one that has as high degree of marbling. Marbling is the thin fat-lines that streak though the meat. When you cook the meat, these fat melts away infusing the meat with flavor. Try to avoid meat with a large hard clob of fat in the middle of the steak. These won’t melt away and can sometimes be very tough.

Steaks are graded based on the level of marbling within the meat. Top steaks have a grade of AAA (Prime in the United States), but only a few low percentage of steaks achieve this grade. The few AAA steaks are bought up by expensive steak houses and high-end grocery stores. Your local store probably has A and AA. My cheap “Chinatown” grocery store sells A to AA and my local Loblaws sells “AA or above”. The higher the grade, the better flavor, the higher price.

Let me meat warm up to around room temperature just before you throw it onto the grill. If your steaks are ice cold when you put it on the grill, the outside will be overcooked (perhaps even burnt) and the inside will be raw. Don’t let it warm up and put it back in the fridge.

Don’t rinse your steaks. My mom does this and I know others who do this. They believe they are “cleaning off” bacteria. By rinsing your steak, you allow bacteria sitting on the surface of your meat (which normally gets killed off during grilling) to penetrate deep inside the meat. The temperature achieved for a medium rare steak is not sufficient to kill bacteria that now resides there due to your rinsing.

Start on high heat, around 500 to 530 degrees F. This high heat will sear the outside of the meat, thus containing all the juices. A hot grill is also required to generate those perfect grill lines. If the temperature is too high however, you will char the edges of steak.

Make sure the steak is at least an inch thick. Anything between 1 to 2 inches is good. The thicker the meat, the longer you have to cook but if you cook it on high heat too long, you will burn the outside. With thinner meats, you can cook at high temp all the way because you will get a nice medium-rare inside without burning the outside. With ticker steaks, you may need to sear the outside and then move to indirect heat until you archive the desired rareness.

Don’t play with the meat too much. Let it sit and cook. Only lift to flip or reposition the steak. If you move it too much, the juices will begin to flow out of the steak and onto your grill.

There are several ways of knowing when your steak is done. I use the heel of the palm method. In this method, the resistance you feel by pushing on certain parts of your palm with the index finger of your other hand are equivalent to a particular rareness of the steak (when you push down on the steak). I don’t like poking my steak with temperature gauges because that causes the juices to flow out.

Let the meat sit for at least 5 minutes. If you cut open your steak without letting it sit, you will let all the juices run out. This is really important. Also, your steak will continue to cook for a bit after you remove it from the grill. So I take this additional “cooking time” into consideration.

After a few tries, you too will know how to grill the perfect steak.


In my spare time, one of the things I do is practice Kendo. Kendo is a Japanese martial art that uses sword-fighting based on traditional samurai swordsmanship. You can find a more information here: Kendo

I’ve been practicing it for 3 years now and I absolutely love it. I also practiced Karate when I was younger – for 10 years, and if I had to choose which I would continue, it would be Kendo hands down. To be fair, Karate and kendo are drastically different sports and to compare them is not fair.

I find kendo to be more physically demanding then karate. Many of the kendo drills focus on increasing stamina and you are always pushed to your limit. I also feel that kendo is more full-contact then karate. karate focuses on kata and other solo practice and even though there is a sparing component, contact is kept minimal to prevent injuries. In kendo, even with strict rules, there is enough freedom so the feeling of competitiveness is not lost.

Though karate is more popular in North America, this popularity has come with an unfortunate cost as the perception of it has been polluted by corporations whose sole goal is to make money instead of teaching the true values of the martial art. This has led to the manifestation of the ‘black-belt’ culture. Many people join clubs with the sole goal of achieving a black belt and bragging about it to their friends. Of course, this leads to many corporations simply handing out black belts as there is no real single international organization to maintain standards.

Most clubs you see on see being advertised on tv are only there to make a quick buck. Much of them fall under two categories: clubs that cater only to children (rather, to their parents) or black-belt mills. In karate, individual clubs have different standards for skills associated to a belt (or rank) thus many clubs arbitrary give out black-belts to unqualified students so they will continue paying their monthly fees. If you intend to start practicing karate, it is best to do some research to find a proper club and receive proper karate training.

There is nothing really ‘wrong’ per se about karate clubs that focus only on children. Children will benefit from the exercise and confidence building that is taught, but, the ‘belts’ or ranks issued by these clubs are often not respected by more serious karate clubs. In addition, many of these clubs do not have much karate development for young-adults/adults. Once your child reaches a certain age, they need to go looking for another club with a better adult focus.

Kendo has better international organization, to the extent that all clubs are a member of one organization, the International Kendo Federation (though IKF’s country specific affiliates such as the Canadian Kendo Federation or Kendo America). If you are in Canada, and your club is not a member of the Canadian Kendo Federation, then you should start looking for a club recognized by the federation.

Joining a ‘legit’ kendo club ensures your instructors are held to a certain standard and that you will be getting proper training. It also means that you can participate in officially sanctioned tournaments.

Though kendo has ‘ranks’, it does not have this ‘black-belt’ culture that has almost ruined karate. Gradings, events in which individuals may try and achieve a higher rank are sanctioned by the federation and they determine if an individual is awarded or not (as opposed to individual clubs issuing ranks). The goal is to try and maintain a standard level of skill associated to a rank across the sport. This lack of a standard has always bothered me about karate (that one club’s black belt can be dramatically different than another clubs’).

Proper clubs also teach philosophical and spiritual aspects of their sport as all Japanese martial arts teach more than just fighting. They also teach the proper etiquette, respect and Japanese culture. This is often lost in black-belt mills.

Though I currently enjoy kendo more, I don’t regret the 10 years I practiced karate. Karate is still a good martial art and there are many reasons why you should practice it. Even with all the negatives surrounding karate at this time, with a little research you can easily find a very good club in almost all major cities.

My Bonsai Tree

The area around my desk has always been lacking of any foliage. I’ve tried to put plants around it, but they keep dying as if planted on some cursed land. The logical reasoning is that they died primarily because I keep forgetting to water them but also the lighting conditions were not suitable.

As a Christmas gift this year I received a new plant, a bonsai tree. It’s not the first time I’ve received a bonsai tree as a gift but the previous one died…and it died quick. I watered it but it kept shedding needles and making a mess all over the place. Eventually it stopped shading (which was good), but then it turned brown and died (which was bad).

For those who don’t know, bonsai is a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers . In English, the term bonsai routinely refers to the growing and shaping of any tree in a conditioner and does not need to follow any traditional Japanese bonsai techniques. If you go to a exotic plant store, you will see both traditional bonsai and non-traditional miniatures(using exotic tropical tree species).

It takes years of careful shaping and pruning to “train” a tree to become a “bonsai”. Not only do the leaves have to be pruned but so do the roots. Copper or steel wires are often used to help shape the trunk. In traditional bonsai, the art is in making the tree look like a miniature version of a real tree you would find in nature. This includes the weathered/aged look of the bark, the shape of the trunk after many decades of harsh weather, and the size of the foliage.

Not all bonsai trees are small. Bonsai’s can actually range in size from the very small (in contains only a few inches in diameter) to very large (over 80 inches). Some of the larger bonsais are actually more than 6 feet tall. Being trees, bonsais can live for a very long time, with the oldest trees being over 500 years old!

It turns out that many species of trees used for bonsai are for temperate climates and are unable to survive indoors for long periods of time. They are actually meant to be placed in pots outdoors. This recent bonsai tree I received is supposed to be cultivated for indoor conditions. It “should” survive in room temperature and indoor humidity conditions all year long but giving the bonsai enough light will still be a problem.

So here’s to hoping this new bonsai tree survives the year!