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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.