The 2014 88th KOKUFU BONSAI EXHIBITION
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Gallery, Ueno Park, Tokyo, Japan
Part 1: February 4-7, 2014
Part 2: February 9-12, 2014
The Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition, now sponsored by the Nippon Bonsai Association, is the premier bonsai exhibition in Japan, and the world. Hobbyists try quite hard, often for years to have their trees accepted for this judged event where only bonsai of the highest quality are displayed eligible for the coveted Kokufu Sho Prizes.
Japanese back pine
Camellia, Kokufu sho Prize
Sargent juniper, displayed by American Doug Paul
An annual book is published after the exhibition featuring every bonsai in the show which make for excellent study of form, species and more importantly the current trends of the Japanese bonsai world.
No. 1 Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition, March 1934
No. 1 Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition, March 1934
The first Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition was held in March 1934 sponsored by the private Kokufu Bonsai Society, headed up by Norio Kobayashi (a prolific bonsai promoter, author and publisher of over 500 issues of Bonsai magazine) and Count Yorinaga Matsudaira (President of the House of Peers and one of the first shohin bonsai enthusiasts). The semi annual exhibition continued up until 1949 when it became an annual event. When the Nippon Bonsai Association was established in 1965 they took over the sponsorship.
Bonsai in the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibitions are displayed by the owner’s name, not the artist who created them which are usually different people. Professional bonsai artists have the annual Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition, now held annually in December where their new and finest creations are shown and judged. It is common to see the same bonsai in both exhibitions displayed under different names.
For a complete history and information on the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition see Robert Baron’s excellent website at:
Beginning with the 60th Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition in 1986 the Nippon Bonsai Association has commemorated every tenth anniversary year by holding the exhibition in two parts. Approximately 250 bonsai are displayed for four days then during a one day break, all the trees are changed. Therefore if one plans their trip to Japan carefully, over 500 trees can be appreciated and studied during three days. But, it takes me much longer to study that great number of bonsai, I must be a slow learner because several days are necessary for me.
During the past two years the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition was held in a nearby venue because the Tokyo Metropolitan Are Museum was being remodeled to make it handicap accessible. In 2013 the event returned to the museum, however the exhibit area was not quite as large as in the past and slightly fewer bonsai could be displayed. Although 2104 is not a tenth year anniversary year, the Nippon Bonsai Association will be holding their Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition in two parts.
Ueno Green Club sales area for the exhibition
During the same time of the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition the Nippon Bonsai Growers Cooperative have a large sales area in the Ueno Green Club. Here a three story building is filled with bonsai, pre-bonsai, containers, tools, display tables and anything else related to bonsai and suiseki. Around the building on three sides is an outdoor sales area, also filled with bonsai material. The Ueno Green Club is down the hill from the Metropolitan Art Museum, a short ten minute ride which is free on a continuous scheduled mini-bus provided by the sponsors.
SUISEKI OF JAPAN EXHIBITION
February 9-12, 2014
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Gallery
The Nippon Suiseki Association was established in 1961 by the head priest of the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan. The organization holds two main yearly exhibitions which are now supported by the Japanese Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
In June 2014 the Nippon Suiseki Association was reorganized with Kunio Kobayashi as Chairman and Seiji Morimae as the Secretary General. In February the organization will be staging an exhibition of over 100 fine-quality Japanese suiseki during the second part of the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. Many historic and famous stones, rarely seen outside temples and shrines will be on display including a stone from the Tokugawa Shognate Collection.
Winter 2014 Japan International Bonsai Exploration Tour
February 3-10, 2014
For over ten years Kora Dalager, a California bonsai teacher and travel agent, and I have been leading two value priced bonsai tours to Japan. In addition to hundreds of people from the United States and Canada, members of our Japan bonsai tours have joined from Australia, England, Italy, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Switzerland, Mexico and Russia. The tours are limited in number so we can easily travel in Japan, see bonsai up close and provide individual attention to our members.
In addition to visiting the major bonsai exhibitions we have private visits to many of the world’s leading bonsai artists and gardens, many of which are not open to the public. For additional information on the Winter 2014 Japan International Bonsai Exploration Tour which will visit both parts of the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition and Suiseki of Japan
Exhibition please check out our website at:
Or simply e-mail Kora or me at: