Japan International Bonsai Tour Exploration– Autumn 2013, Part 6- Final

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Today was the last full day for our bonsai tour. Tokoname is one of the famous ancient kiln areas in Japan because of the local clay. In the world wide bonsai community people think that Tokoname is famous for bonsai containers, however in Japan the city of Tokoname is most famous for sewer tiles and ceramic bathroom fixtures. Bonsai containers are made in Tokoname, however there are excellent fine quality pots as well as inexpensive pots. Some of the contemporary Chinese pots are better than some of the Tokoname pots. So, just because a pot is made in Tokoname does not make it good.Image

There are however a handful of talented and skilled ceramic artists making bonsai containers for the domestic and foreign markets. Some of kilns have reduced their production, others have closed because of the economy and availability of quality Chinese containers.

 

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Plaster molds used for making pressed bonsai containers

We took several taxis this morning, first to Isomura Shoten, a pot distributor where we looked around and shopped. After we went through his large selection we visited the top kilns in Tokoname. Yesterday we visited Gyozan, the current Number One potter. Today we went to the Ikko Kiln, and proceeded to the well known Yamaaki Kiln who originally made unglazed pots, now making a few glazed pots as well.

 

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Glazes

 

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Sample tile glazes

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We then walked to the Reiho Kiln where a potter demonstrated for us how to make a pressed pot. Reiho is famous for glazed containers, but is now making unglazed pots as well. Reiho and Koyo containers are my personal favorites and many of my finest deciduous bonsai are in their pots. Mr. Takeyama in Omiya Bonsai Village has many Koyo pots and I’ve been purchasing them from him for over 30 years.

 

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Mr. Koyo

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Boy, have the prices gone up! I was truly surprised at the prices, especially for shohin bonsai pots as well. Many of the kilns are making a great number of shohin bonsai pots because of their popularity. I saw beautiful small pots, less than three inches long for over $200, and the exchange rate is pretty good now too.

 

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Our group then visited the Shuho Kiln, Koyo Kiln and finally the Hattori Kiln. People would select pots from each kiln and they were taken back to Isomura Shoten for payment and packing. Everyone had a shopping bag full of pots and some with boxes as well.

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Mr. Hattori

 

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Unusual glaze decoration by Mr. Koyo

Last year on our tour I introduced Julian Adams to the relaxing ritual of Japanese public baths. He now loves them as much as I do. We are at a different hotel this year which does not have a public bath. However the Nagoya airport is only one short train stop away so we went there for a bath then dinner.

Yes, men are not in the same area as women. In our bath area there was a sauna as well as five different pools: a scenic bath, Jacuzzi bath, cold bath, inclining activation bath and the vibration bath. This is the first time I’ve experienced the vibration bath. I’m not certain if there is electricity or ultra sonic waves, but when you sit down there is something vibrating on your back, then when you extend your feet forward towards the wall you shocked some more. If you get real close the shock becomes more intense and I had to jump out the first time. This was a very stimulating experience for me…

Tomorrow we head on home and this will be the eighth time I’ve crossed the Pacific Ocean this year. The weather forecast for Rochester calls for six inches of snow and I hope I don’t get stuck in Chicago for another three days like I experienced in February. I hope readers enjoyed my thoughts from Japan as well as the photos. Remember, more grammatically correct articles and finer photographs can be read in my International BONSAI magazine.

Enjoy the large kitty we saw near our last stop today as he waves sayonara to us while his two friends on the ground watch him.

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japan International Bonsai Tour Exploration– Autumn 2013, Part 6

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On Sunday we took the bullet train from Kyoto to Nagoya where our private tour bus was waiting. We first visited the Daiju-en Bonsai Garden of Toru Suzuki.

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Daiju-en Bonsai Garden is famous and was established by Saichi Suzuki, Toru Suzuki’s grandfather who was a pine bonsai specialist. I had the good fortune to meet Saichi Suzuki a couple of decades ago and visit his small garden full of Japanese black and Japanese five-needle pines. He pioneered many of the standard bonsai techniques we use today. The well known Zuisho Japanese five-needle pine was introduced and the training and propagation techniques were perfected by Saichi Suzuki.

 

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Toshinori Suzuki, Saichi Suzuki’s son, continued on with the bonsai garden. Toshinori Suzuki was also a pine and Needle juniper specialist and won many of the top awards in exhibitions. His first apprentice was Yasuo Mitsuya who is well known bonsai artist who has visited and taught in the United States.

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Toru Suzuki, the present proprietor of Daiju-en Bonsai could not meet us for or visit because he is in charge of the Taikan Bonsai Exhibition which finishes on Monday and is still in Kyoto. His son-in-law welcomed our group, the first bonsai tour to see his garden and pointed out famous trees, answered questions and then led us to our next stop, the Shinpukuji Temple about 30 minutes away in Okazaki. The drive to the temple was up a winding road flanked with tall stands of bamboo, Hinoki cypress and some Cryptomeria as well, quite beautiful.

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By the way, it’s now 5:30 am on Monday, the latest we have slept in since arriving in Japan last week. Julian said that I slept well last night and that I fell asleep working on my computer last night so made me go to bed. Back to my report–

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Last year Julian Adams and I visited Shinpukuji Temple which has an impressive bonsai collection which is cared for by the Daiju-en Bonsai Garden “family”, graduate apprentices and a few “migrant workers,” which I’ll explain about later.  The temple was built and rebuilt many times after fires and the present main building was built in the early 15th century and rebuilt after another fire 50 years later. Our group was the first bonsai tour that visited this small, excellent bonsai collection in a picturesque and beautiful setting, especially with the Japanese maples changing into their autumn splendor.

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Shinpukuji Temple was established in the 6th century because of the legend of a sacred fountain which heals, especially eyes. They were selling different bottles of Holy Water, each for various parts of the body. The head priest, Mr. Omura, a bonsai collector, was finishing up chanting and talking to visitors, so I stayed a bit, it was Sunday after all and there was no Greek Orthodox Church in Okazaki a church is church and there is only one God. When the priest finished his service I asked which bottle of Holy Water heals feet. Rather than point me to the bottle which heals the general body, I was directed to a lucky charm with two golden feet. I asked him if that would guarantee that I would not break my foot for the seventh time and he said it will if I believe it. I also got a small golden ring with a rabbit because I was born in the year of the rabbit in the Oriental zodiac, perhaps that will heal as well.

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There are many famous bonsai in the bonsai collection here, some which have received the top prizes in the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. A couple were even started by Saichi Suzuki too. Mr. Omura and his father, the former head priest, love bonsai and Princess persimmons. Behind the ancient main building was a new modern bonsai museum including a formal indoor display as well as small outdoor bonsai garden.

 

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A few days ago at the Taikan Bonsai Exhibition I ran into Boon from California who was studying the bonsai with Mr. Omura. It just so happened that Boon was “working” on the Shinpukuji Temple Bonsai Collection. He often comes to help tend the bonsai because is former teacher was primarily in charge of the trees and he has been helping him for years. Boon often brings friends with him, thus the foreign migrant workers.

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Boon met us in the display room and showed us around including a huge chrysanthemum stone which was presented to the temple by the Emperor of Japan. He also gave the temple a bonsai, but it was outside mixed in with other trees. Then Boon took us downstairs into another museum area which had ancient relics, all behind glass, except for large statues and a palladium for transporting royalty. There were famous bonsai containers, scrolls, paintings and parts of sacred Buddhist statues. Only the head remained and the back of the skull was missing, but filled with cotton and the pieces also displayed, kind of interesting.

 

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Shinpukuji Temple is a popular tourist destination because of the healing magic fountain and so has a large restaurant. Boon mentioned that they once served 600 visitors, but not all at the same sitting. Our group had a Buddhist vegetarian bamboo cuisine lunch with Boon. Every piece of the several different serving dishes was made from bamboo growing nearby. Most of the delicious food was also bamboo as well.

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After lunch Boon and Mr. Omura led us through the private area in back where the remaining bonsai were maintained. Trees not at their prime like Japanese flowering aprcots, Satsuki azaleas and other spring flowering bonsai were in that area, as well as others still in training. Boon pointed out a few of the trees he has been working on, some for more than ten years. There were many unusual deciduous species which especially interested me like a couple of rose bonsai, the largest in Japan.

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Next we went to our hotel in Tokoname, and since it was still light, Kora arranged for a private visit to the kiln of Gyozan, the Number One potter of Japan. In the past, his containers started at US $20,000, but now has smaller size pots beginning around US$300. In addition to the traditional unglazed containers, Gyozan also makes unusual glazed containers. Some of the smaller pots featured lovely subtle paintings by his wife. When we arrived at the kiln the setting sun was bright enough to illuminate Gyozan’s bonsai collection, all in containers he made. By the time we left it was dark. Gyozan and his wife drove our group to our nearby hotel to rest for the evening before our last full day of our tour to visit and shop at the top kilns making bonsai containers.

Japan International Bonsai Tour Exploration– Autumn 2013, Part 5

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My friend in the hotel lobby.

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On Saturday morning we went to the opening of the Choseki Kai Suiseki Exhibition before heading on to the Taikan Bonsai Exhibition. We actually got there at 9am and the show opened at 10, so it was a quiet time to appreciate, study and photograph the stones and displays. The suiseki exhibition is annually held at the Kenniji Temple, the 800 year old Buddhist Temple, oldest in Kyoto. The old buildings are beautiful and unique, as are the ancient paintings and other art. Seiji Morimae, S-Cube in Hanyu, is the prime organizer of the event, and, as usual, did a smashing job with the show.

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There were three full wall formal tokonoma each displaying one susiseki and a grass planting companion. The other stones were displayed along the walls on dark blue felt runners. Several interesting grass plantings were used as accents. The display tables were equally as beautiful. Having the stones displayed on the floor level means that to fully appreciate the suiseki, one must sit on the floor. This is also true when photographing. It was easier for me to sit down, then scoot around on my knees. But, there was one magnificent stone I had to get down on my belly, flat on the Tanami mat to photograph. On the top of the stone was a natural hut.

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Another stellar stone had exposed crystals which presented the feeling of chrysanthemum blossoms.

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And, finally, a small suiseki was displayed in water basin with people sitting all around looking at the stone. I don’t quite understand this display, but could not find Mr. Morimae to explain this to me, but I will in February. I’m sure he will remember.

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After enjoying the other buildings and gardens we took a taxi back to the bonsai exhibition where we stayed until we were exausted around 3pm.

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At the exhibition I saw Rita and Marc Cooper from England who were displaying a great Kokonoe Japanese five-needle pine which was being cared for at the Fujikawa Kouka-en Bonsai Garden in Osaka. This is the garden where Bjorn and Owen Rich are studying. In fact these two were at the show from set up until take down tomorrow. They assist their teacher Keiichi Fujikawa answering questions, running around, serving tea and selling bonsai to visitors, especially foreigners.Image

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On our final walk through I’d like to share a few superb bonsai for sale in the vending area. There was a beautiful Chojubai Japanese flowering quince with rough bark. A comprehensive article on this species is forthcoming for International BONSAI.

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November 2013

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February 2013

For sale, near this bonsai is an ancient Sargent juniper bonsai. Although there are numerous “similar” appearing old Sargent juniper bonsai full of dead wood and lush green foliage, this bonsai is quite different. Like many of the specimens, all the branches are grafted on to the living trunk sections to replace the foliage with a cultivar with a fine-texture foliage. This bonsai is different and more refined as depicted with the branching as can be seen on the bottom right. It’s not just a bush, the branch has detail and shows many, many years of loving, dedicated and skilled training. This is not the first time I’ve seen this bonsai as it was also for sale at the Ueno Green Club in Tokyo during the 2013 Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition, also by the same artist. I just happen to have a photo from February and check out the upper foliage pads. They were  still in training not as tightly pinched as the tree is now. Also, the old photograph shows the tree in it’s winter color.

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US $120,000.

During the late afternoon I met Yasuo Mitsuya, Tokai-en Bonsai Garden, which was good because I wanted to present him with a copy of my newest book. Mr. Mitsuya was one of the three international judges and a demonstrator at the 2012 3rd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition held in Rochester, New York. He gave me a photo of a fine bonsai he was selling through his prior apprentice’s sales area. I showed this bonsai in the last blog entry, but now it has a different meaning. Mr. Mitsuya has been training his Japanese black pine bonsai for over 35 years and was trained from a collected tree. He mentioned that it must be over 250 years old, but did not start it from seed. The bark is quite aged. He then told me the price, and to be certain I got the right number of zeros, I had him check it on my handy iPhone currency exchange app. So, if you would like to add this bonsai to your collection (if you could get it into your home country) the price is US $120,000. The tree was still for sale.

Enjoy the last photos from the Taikan Bonsai Exhibition. If you want to see better photos, you can easily subscribe to International BONSAI through this link:

http://www.internationalbonsai.com/page/1403493

Japan International Bonsai Tour Exploration– Autumn 2013, Part 4

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Although beautiful, the Japanese maples in the garden temples are not quite at their peak of color yet. So, rather than share photos of colorful maples, I thought I’d share an interesting colorful character I saw in the sales area.

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At first I noticed his hat and was wondering where he got those magnificent pins, then I looked closer and he freely posed for me.

Today was the opening day for the 33rd Taikan Bonsai Exhibition and I spent all day studying the bonsai. The exhibition was not quite as crowded as in the past, perhaps because its only Friday so I hope more visitors will come during the remaining weekend. There are quite a number foreigners at the exhibition, many from Europe.

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I received a question about the last photo in Part 3 of a rather unusual display so today I got the information. The display is a “Horticultural Renaissance,” which is the collabration of three artists. The bonsai artist designed the complete display, while a potter made the tall and unusual containers. Finally, an artist created three tall stands from iron for holding three cascade style bonsai. It was mentioned that the scale cannot be appreciated from the blog display photo so I stepped to make the bonsai look larger.

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The sales area was always busy with many deals taking place often between vendors.

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I’ve also received a few comments on the empty sushi plates, in fact, many readers actually counted the 15 plates, which only cost $23. If I had known people were going to count the plates, I would have positioned ALL the empty plates in the photo.

Enjoy the beautiful bonsai!

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Japan International Bonsai Tour Exploration– Autumn 2013, Part 3

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Thursday was judging day for the Taikan Bonsai Exhibition. Julian Adams and I first went with the tour to visit the Ryoanji Temple, where I caught him selecting seed. We then took a taxi to the exhibition.

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Julian Adams picking ripe seed from small leaf Japanese maples.

All the vendors were busy setting up their trees, containers, supplies, suiseki and other items necessary for the creation, maintenance and appreciation of bonsai. I saw Kenji Oshima, son on Mikio Oshima and congratulated him for winning the Prime Minister Award for the upcoming Japan Creator’s Bonsai Exhibition in early December. He was proud of a special display of one of his client’s trident maple bonsai.

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Award winning bonsai artist, Kenji Oshima, Meiju-en Bonsai Garden in Okayama in front of his client’s display of Trident maple bonsai.

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The first round of judging the bonsai was to select the finalists for the award selection. Tables were set up down the center of the main aisle. There were sections for the large, medium and small size evergreens, large, medium and small deciduous species, large, medium and small satsuki, rock plantings, group plantings, literati, shohin bonsai and suiseki.

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Large evergreen bonsai ready for award selection.

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Medium size deciduous species bonsai.

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Distinguished judges.

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Judges making their selection and voting.

All of the bonsai selected for evaluation were beautiful and the judges had a difficult time selecting the award winning masterpieces. In fact, there was a tie for the Prime Minister Award. I was next to Mr. Kimura as the two large pines he displayed for his clients won the Prime Minister and next prize. As he predicted, the judges liked the interesting multiple trunk style Japanese five-needle pine better than the quiet informal upright style Japanese black pine.Image

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Enjoy the photos, more will be forthcoming after the exhibition officially opens tomorrow.

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Japan International Bonsai Tour Exploration– Autumn 2013, Part 2

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Our Tokyo hotel lobby is on the 25th floor. The entire wall behind the front desk is a plate glass window with an unbelievable view of Tokyo Tower and Mt. Fuji. Our group saw Mt. Fuji leaving S-Cube, and now this morning upon our check out from Tokyo. Looks like our group will be returning to Japan, perhaps on our February tour (no, sold out), but there is room for our new June tour to visit the colorful Satsuki bonsai festival and exhibition.

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We spent all morning at the Shunka-en Bonsai Museum of Kunio Kobayashi in Tokyo. English bonsai artist Peter Warren who apprenticed with Mr. Kobayashi for six years warmly greeted us and gave us free reign of the complex and allowed us to photograph. Later on he gave an excellent tour, in English, which most people understood, especially the Australians. Corin Tomlinson, from England who apprenticed with me decades ago keeps reminding me that we do not speak proper English, but rather “American.”

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Peter explained about the different display formality and tokonoma displays. Interesting comments on the bonsai, suiseki and scrolls was given. He took us upstairs, past one of the most comfortable and modern toilets in Japan, to see the room filled with antique Chinese (and a few Japanese) bonsai containers. He mentioned that most of the best antique Chinese bonsai containers from Japan have now gone home to their homeland.

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I think Mr. Kobayashi must have added at least 30 to 50% more bonsai to his garden. Most prominent were a group of Japanese and Trident maples. All beautiful and many with branch grafts being trained. Many of the bonsai this time had small white bags in the upper branches filled with insecticide. This reminds me of when it was popular to hang yellow cards with sticky insecticides in greenhouses to attract white flies and other insects.

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There were quite a number of literati style pines being trained as well as some huge Japanese black pines with large sections of dead wood. The Satsuki azaleas looked especially good with the dark green foliage and I look forward to enjoying the blossoms in June.

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This is the first time I did not go up the stairs to the rooftop growing area to take overall photos. I did not want to press my luck with any extra walking, just in case. I’ve already broken my foot in Japan once.

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Mr. Kobayashi was hospitable as was his lovely wife and helpful apprentices. He autographed calendars for everyone who purchased them and presented us with a suiseki exhibition album, Satsuki azalea album as well as Kinbon magazine. Mr. Kobayashi is the new chairman of the newly reorganized Nippon Suiseki Association, sponsor of the new “Suiseki of Japan Exhibition” which will be held in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in February during the second half of the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. Mr. Kobayashi will be one of the suiseki judges for the Taikan Ten Bonsai Exhibition in Kyoto on Friday.

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After a wonderful visit we took the bullet train to Kyoto, and guess what, Mt. Fuji was in view again.Image

Having enjoyed its beauty three times in two days means that our tour members will definitely return. Last year we also flew quite close to Mt. Fuji on our flight from Tokoname to Tokyo on the way home.

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Japan International Bonsai Tour Exploration– Autumn 2013, Part 1

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After a two hour delay and airplane evacuation in Chicago due to tornadoes, we finally arrived in Japan for our semi annual bonsai tour led by Kora Dalager and me. This time we have a good small group of eleven people including two ladies from Australia.

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Moving one of the February Kokufu bonsai ten exhibition prize winning trees to be loaded for display in the Taikan Bonsai Ten exhibition in Kyoto. This bonsai belongs to a client of Masahiko Kimura.

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Beautyberry and Firethorn bonsai in the container room.

Tuesday we first visited Masahiko Kimura’s garden, near Omiya, by our private bus. As always, his bonsai are spectacular and although I’ve been visiting his garden for over 30 years, the trees looked the best this time. Our tour enjoyed glorious, warm sunny weather, and the bonsai took on a special glow, which reflected their unique beauty as well the tender loving care of Mr. Kimura.

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He was busy directing three apprentices moving large trees in preparation for displaying at the Taikan Ten Bonsai Exhibition rapidly approaching in Kyoto. Since judging day is on Thursday, they must be preparing to load them in a truck later on during the day or early on Wednesday. I think Mr. Kimura mentioned that he was only displaying seven or eight of his client’s masterpieces. He led me to an area where there were a large windswept Japanese five-needle pine and informal upright Japanese black pine, all manicured for display. Mr. Kimura asked me which is best and will win the coveted Prime Minister Award, the highest award in the exhibition. It was a tough question because both were magnificent. One was quite dramatic and had an active form with the several long windswept branches while the other had a quiet, triangular shape. When asked again I finally said the windswept was unique and interesting, but I personally preferred the informal upright Japanese black pine. I asked him which do you like, and he said the windswept pine, but did not know which would win in Kyoto. I wish both bonsai good luck. We shall see on Thursday.

On a lower bench I saw a group of Chojubai flowering quince in training pots, but am not sure if they were to be used for individual bonsai or accessory plantings. The entire public display garden seemed to have a new layer of gravel, without any weeds of course.

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Small size Chojubai flowering quince.

After allowing our group to look and photograph his bonsai Mr. Kiura took a break from directing his apprentices and invited us to tea and then offered each of us our choice of a Taikan Ten, Bonsai Creator’s, or Omiya Bonsai exhibition album.

We need to move on to our other stops on our busy schedule because Sean Smith phoned me while we were at Mr. Kimura’s. He and his lovely daughter Savanna are being hosted by Seiji Morimae, S-Cube in Hanyu. Mr. Morimae wanted to make certain that our group would be at his garden by 3pm because he had a special visit arranged with the major of Hanyu City.

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Omiya Bonsai Art Museum.

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During the short bus trip to the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, we ate lunch on the bus to save time. Autumn colors were quite bright on the deciduous bonsai. There were even a couple of Japanese flowering apricot bonsai displayed with golden yellow leaves. The first part of the display hallway in the museum features about five small display areas with stunning medium size bonsai on display. Each was displayed by different bonsai artists in the Omiya Bonsai Village. It was interesting to see what each artist selected to show.

I was particularly impressed with the Japanese five-needle pine bonsai displayed by Hiroshi Takeyama who does not specialize in evergreen species, but rather deciduous trees. People tend to limit the scope of bonsai artists to a few specific species or styles, but they are skilled with many different species and styles. For example Mr. Kimura is well known for his dramatic, old thick trunk juniper bonsai. However, he is also quite skilled with creating delicate forest and rock planting bonsai as well. The medium size Japanese five-needle pine bonsai shown by Mr. Takeyama is a good example of his diversity creativity.

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Mansei-en Bonsai Garden entrance area.

We then took a walk into the Omiya Bonsai Village using a short cut.  However there was road work in the way of my intended path. There was a guard near the open road ditch, but I pointed to where we wanted to go, and not wanting to confront eleven foreigners, decided just to let us go through. Well, there is now a house where the road used to be so we had to take another turn to get to the Mansei-en Bonsai Garden of Hatsuji Kato and his son Haruhiko. Each time I visit this garden there seems to be more and more trees and especially new bonsai containers.

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Private reception room at Mansei-en Bonsai Garden.

Many of Mr. Kato’s Japanese maples were turning red, some yellow. The Chinese quince were not quite turning red, but the award winning Twisted pomegranate was bright yellow. He had several bonsai in his three tokonoma (like all Japanese words are both singular or plural) were beautiful. There were many trees quite detailed and will probably be taken to Kyoto for the exhibition.

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Japanese maple.

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Twisted trunk pomegranate.

Down the street and around the corner we visited Seiko-en Bonsai Garden of Tomio Yamada and his famous daughter Kaori who invented saika-bonsai to popularize the art. There was a TV crew photographing one of his well known Shishigashira Japanese maple bonsai which was beginning to change color. We did not want to disturb the activity so only appreciated the beauty of Mr. Yamada’s bonsai with our eyes, not cameras. He has some of the finest and most refined bonsai in Japan, all neatly maintained in a small garden.

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Kyka-en Bonsai Garden.

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Historic and famous Zelkova bonsai.

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Cacti and succlents.

Our next brief stop was at Kyuka-en Bonsai Garden of Isamu Murata and his son Yukio. His father, Kyuzo Murata introduced me to the Japanese bonsai world during my first apprenticeship with him in 1970. The garden has become smaller during the decades, but the trees have become more beautiful. Everyone admired the famous Zelkova bonsai in the garden. Mr. Murata was in Tokyo working on the Imperial Bonsai Collection, but his son, Yukio and wife Rumiko showed us around. Yukio speaks perfect English and has an excellent sense of humor. He asked when my other foot was going to break…. again. So, then I knew it to move on.

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Fuyo-en Bonsai Garden.

Our last stop in Omiya Bonsai Village was to the Fuyo-en Bonsai Garden of Hiroshi Takeyama, the immediate past president of the Nippon Bonsai Associationn. He specializes in deciduous and unusual bonsai and has a distinct style for forest planting bonsai. This is my favorite bonsai garden in Japan because I have a fondness for deciduous and unusual bonsai. As always, his garden is a multitude of autumn color.

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Hiroshi Takeyama with his Japanese five-needle pine bonsai and orchid arrangement.

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Famous Sargent juniper bonsai.

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Apprentice watering maple bonsai.

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Zelkova bonsai.

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Japanese maple bonsai.

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Cascade Hawthorn bonsai in a custom made container made by Koyo.

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Container lip detail.

Mr. Takeyama always has a beautiful bonsai on display in his reception room. However yesterday I was a bit confused with the composition. Next to his Japanese five-needle pine was a gorgeous white flowering Phalenopsis orchid with six huge sprays of perfect form. So, I had to ask and then remembered that Mr. Takeyama was recently awarded a special medal from the Emperor for his bonsai activity. So the orchid was a congratulatory arrangement. There are many types of tokonoma display, and Mr. Takeyama wanted to display the orchid he received.

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Mayor Komei Kawata receiving new book book.

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Our tour group with Mayor Kawata and Sean and Savanna Smith.

We rushed to our private bus to the city of Hanyu where Seiji Morimae has his bonsai garden. During the trip, Sean called, again, check on our exact location because Mr. Morimae, like most Japanese, are punctual and we needed to be at his garden by 3pm. Upon arrival to the S-Cube garden we were not allowed to enter but were told to get back on the bus. Mr. Morimae explained that we were going to the Hanyu City Hall and that I must make a few remarks.

We were welcomed by Mayor Komei Kawata, who we met last year when he came to S-Cube to welcome us to Hanyu. We were then escorted into City Hall, where all the city employees clapped to welcome us as we entered. So after I made a few remarks our entire group was escorted upstairs to a board room decorated with a beautiful suiseki and Japanese five-needle pine bonsai. This bonsai was displayed by Mr. Yamada many years ago in the professional Bonsai Creator’s Exhibition and is now owned by Mr. Morimae. The history of bonsai and suiseki is an important part of appreciation and respect which most people do not comprehend.

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Japanese five-needle pine bonsai displayed by Seiji Morimae at the Hanyu City reception.

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Setagawa tora ishi suiseki.

Mayor Kawata made a few welcoming remarks and told us about the sister city of Hanyu with Millbrae, CA. After presenting everyone with a small cartoon book of the city’s mascot he gave me a beautiful photograph of Mt. Fuji next to cherry blossoms, very Japanese. Of course I presented him with a copy of may newest book and the new issue of International BONSAI. Many photographs were taken.

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S-Cube display garden entrance.

We returned to S-Cube where we enjoyed the remaining long day looking at Mr. Morimae’s huge bonsai, suiseki and antique collections. He is always purchasing bonsai collections, remodeling them and re selling. He holds monthly auctions at his garden Display room featuring antique bonsai, suiseki and other art. tracts bonsai professionals from long distances.Image

Sales area featuring antique bonsai, containers, suiseki and other art for sale.

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A collected Sargent juniper bonsai.

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Sumac bonsai.

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Japanese red pine bonsai.

Mr. Morimae showed us another plot of land, twice the size of his present garden right in front of his entrance gate. Since it “was” a rice field, 1,000 dump trucks of fill soil was being brought in to raise the field to street level. This will be the new display garden for S-Cube and I look forward to watching it’s development. Knowing Mr. Morimae for over 30 years, I know it will be spectacular and will not take long before it looks attractive.

As we left S-Cube around 5 pm, Kora arranged for Mt. Fuji to be directly in front of the bus, beautifully silhouetted against the orange setting sun. Quite a spectacular ending for a spectacular day introducing our tour members to the Japanese bonsai world.

I’m quite pleased that over 30,000 people from over 107 countries are finding my blog interesting and watching my commentary on my “Bonsai World.” It is important to realize that my entries are mostly instant, spontaneous because I want to quickly share my discoveries around the world, as well as share information which I have learned during the past half century with other.

If you want to read and learn from more grammatically correct, edited, educational articles which have better photos (really! All color corrected and in focus) please consider subscribing to my International BONSAI magazine.

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International BONSAI magazine is the first and only professional bonsai magazine published in the United States. Now in our 35th year of publication, International BONSAI, in full color, introduces information, articles and photos, some of which cannot be found elsewhere in English. The beautifully illustrated articles and photographs show beginners and advanced bonsai hobbyists how they can develop a bonsai collection from nursery stock, young plants as well as from collected trees. Information is also presented on bonsai exhibits, events, new plants and book reviews. Advance bonsai hobbyists are finding articles on bonsai display, Mr. Kimura’s classroom instruction and the shohin bonsai course valuable for their bonsai education. International BONSAI is an excellent addition to your bonsai reference library as well.

You can easily subscribe for 2013 (back issues promptly sent for the year) or 2014 or both year from our web site at: www.internationalbonsai.com/page/1403493

Upon my return home next week I must finish the 140th copy, the 2013/NO. 4 issue before participating at the Winter Silhouette Exhibition in North Carolina: http://www.winterbonai.com

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Winter Arrives in Upstate New York

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Upon return home from Australia I discovered that we did not have our typical brilliant autumn colors upstate New York is famous for. The colors were beautiful, but not like in the past years. In fact, many of my deciduous bonsai still have green leaves, even though it snowed a couple of time. Yes, I’ve had shoveled too.

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There are several factors which affect the coloring of deciduous bonsai foliage in autumn. Of course the reduced daylight actually triggers the onset of dormancy. I’ve watched as it actually noticeable in late July. The daylight gets shorter each day and the foliage changes from a bright green to dull green.

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In addition to the reduced daylight, I’ve learned that watering and feeding the bonsai will greatly affect the autumn coloring. If a bonsai is stressed by not providing adequate water, especially in late summer, the colors often are more intense. Also, maintaining a regular fertilizer schedule with high nitrogen, through September and into October will delay the onset of autumn coloring.

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Actually high levels of nitrogen in autumn will help bonsai over winter and provide them with what they need to grow vigorously in spring. NO, the application of nitrogen fertilizer in autumn will NOT stimulate new growth which will be damaged by autumn frosts IF your bonsai have been regularly fertilized throughout the summer growing season. The addition of a nitrogen content fertilizer will not stimulate new growth. However, IF your trees have not been fertilized regularly an application of a nitrogen content fertilizer may stimulate late summer new growth which may be damaged.

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Late each summer I select a few deciduous bonsai which will receive extra loving care in preparation for excellent autumn coloring. The trees are repositioned in different areas in my display garden which receive the maximum amount of full sun. Even though the entire display area is in a full sun exposure, through the past 26 years I’ve learned there are several “sweet spots” which receive better sun. The selected bonsai are moved into those areas and rotated weekly so the sunlight will reach all areas of the deciduous trees. Also, watering is carefully maintained and often fertilizer is stopped earlier rather than later.

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Usually, this technique works. Last year I got lucky, and we also had better weather. The trees which I selected were cared for and turned into their brilliant autumn coloring, just in time for my friend, Joe Noga who traveled from North Carolina, to take the final photos for my new book. The trees were outstanding, as can be appreciated in my newest book: Classical Bonsai Art. If you don’t have it, you should add a copy to your bonsai library, not only for inspiration, but also for detailed training and plant information not found elsewhere. The book also makes an excellent holiday gift, even for yourself, and can be easily ordered at:

http://www.internationalbonsai.com/page/1442819

Classical Bonsai Art is still on sale for only $50 which is a bargain for a large size book which includes over 675 detailed and color correct photos.

The photographs included in this post show my bonsai in beautiful autumn color, especially to those in areas of the world where they can’t experience it. However, the colors are not as intense and brilliant as in the past, as people in our area will confirm.Image

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We have had two snowfalls and the low temperatures have dropped to below 25F. As the snow melts over the bonsai it tends to clean the bark which is good. Normally, this would be the best time to put your bonsai into their winter protection structures. However, I still feel it’s too early for our region. The temperatures for the next few days should reach 60F, and I’d rather have the bonsai outside rather than in, especially since my winter protection areas are in low light.

 

 

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Bonsai are trees! Trees want to live and can withstand some cold temperatures. This tends to “toughen” the bonsai and makes them healthier. It’s not a good idea to pamper your bonsai too much as it often weakens them.

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As we were preparing the bonsai for winter, by removing old, dead, discolored foliage and organic fertilizer remnants, a few looked pretty good so I took the time to photograph a couple. Photographing a bonsai requires the skill and knowledge of photography and also a few secrets to create the best photos. Yuji Yoshimura taught me that it’s better to photograph bonsai when dry.  This allows the detailed bark to be easily seen and photographed. If the bark is wet, it’s dark and does not show any detail. When I returned home from Australia one of my finest sinuous style American larch bonsai was looking pretty good. So, I brought it into my photo studio, set up the lights and noticed that the base of the trunk was wet. I took a few photos and confirmed that the bark was too wet. I left the bonsai on the display table but moved the lights and waited, and waited some more. After 11 days, I finally decided enough is enough and photographed the bonsai, and a few others as well. The brilliant golden color of the foliage was lost, however it was still attractive. And, those of you who grow larch know that the small needles quickly drop and make a mess all over the moss, container and display table and needed to be cleaned up several time. After I photographed the bonsai I took it outside and used the leaf blower to remove many of the old foliage. That’s a handy tool to use in autumn.

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All my best bonsai will remain outside until I return from Japan, then we will put them into their overwintering areas. This coming weekend my Saturday Bonsai Crew will help again and the bonsai in the sales area will be moved into the poly houses. I still have a few trees which look pretty good. I hope they lose their leaves quickly as I’m preparing bonsai for the Winter Silhouette Exhibition in North Carolina on December 7-8th. Information can be found here:

www.winterbonsai.com

I hope to see many friends and some beautiful bonsai at the show where I’ll be presenting a lecture/demonstration on Dwarf Japanese Maple Bonsai and a critique. Enjoy what is left of autumn.

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2013 GOLDEN STATE BONSAI CONVENTION

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October 31 – November 3, 2013

Marriott Convention Center, Burbank, California

Before returning home from my successful teaching tour throughout Australia, I stopped in California for the 36th annual convention of the Golden State Bonsai Federation, one of the best in the United States. Many old friends were met and surprised to see me here, especially in a boot cast and on my scooter for my sixth broken foot. I told them, just think what I cold have done if both my feet were not broken!

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The convention started on Halloween and there was a special “Halloween Costume Bus Tour Party” in Hollywood passing many historic movie/TV studios while watching thousands of Californians enjoying the holiday, in all types of costumes. Some were traditional, many were unusual while most were exotic and revealing. Everyone in our group dressed up and we all had a great time watching the people on our private double decker bus complete with “refreshments.” Some of our group’s costumes were creative, but we all wanted to see which one of the “Kathy Shaners” was the real one, as there were several. Can you tell which one is the real Kathy?

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Workshops, seminars and demonstrations and a huge benefit raffle are customary for these conventions, but this convention was different with the theme “Bonsai Artist Studio: Outside the Box” where the three headliners, Peter Warren, David DeGroot and Suthin Sukolosovisit presented several programs in a studio setting as well as demonstrations.

There were four exhibits, the convention bonsai exhibit, a competitive bonsai exhibit, a suiseki exhibit and a special display of Japanese suiseki & chrysanthemum stones from the private collection of Tom and Hiromi Elias. A few of the bonsai and suiseki which were interesting to me follow.

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My next stop is finally home sweet home for a couple of weeks before leading my biannual bonsai tour to Japan with Kora Dalager.