Japan Satsuki Bonsai Tour– Part 4

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We had a long and enjoyable today, well, every day is full of beautiful bonsai, highlighting Satsuki azaleas. We took a subway and four taxis from our hotel to the Shunka-En Bonsai Museum of Kunio Kobayashi. He is well known for his award winning Japanese black pines and Satsuki azaleas. In fact, this is the first time we have visited him when he was not at his museum. He was judging a Satsuki exhibition in Yokohama and his senior apprentice Hiroyuki Suzuki was setting up another Satsuki exhibition at the Ueno Green Club– that’s one we will miss. Mrs. Kobayashi did a great job, as always welcoming us and serving us green tea.

Since Peter Warren is teaching in Florida and Hiroyuki is at the Ueno Green Club we had Jin Yasufumi, who speak English, translate for us and give us a grand tour of the tokonoma displays all featuring masterpiece Satsuki. He explained many things about display, and Satsuki as well.

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The last few times I’ve visited Shunka-En Bonsai Museum a tremendous amount of  large new bonsai were added. Two long tables are dedicated to Japanese maples which leaf out brilliant red, as well as the common Japanese maple. Many of these trees are still in training boxes and some were inarched grafted as well.

 

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This is the first time I’ve visited here during the summer in many years and the entire atmosphere is different than when we visit in February and November. The trees are full of green leaves! The beauty of the structure is mostly hidden for deciduous species, but a new beauty emerges. With all the new additions, and leafed out as well, the garden seems crowded, but well maintained. The three apprentices sure have a lot of work. The colorful Satsuki bonsai were distributed throughout the garden and looked wonderful with the dark green evergreen foliage and fresh green of the deciduous species.

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We took another four taxis to Tokyo Station to board another Bullet train to Shizuoka to visit Taisho-En Bonsai Garden. Although it was cloudy we were able to see Mt. Fuji which means we will return to Japan again. Nobuichi Urushibata is the proprietor who specializes in shohin bonsai. His son Taiga also works with him and is a graduate apprentice of Masahiko Kimura. He speaks fluent English and traveled to one of my symposia in 2009 to teach shohin bonsai in Rochester, New York. Both father and son work on large size trees as well as the tiny mame size trees. Together they are a great team and I wonder how they care for all those small size bonsai with only a couple people. Nobuichi Urushibata was away with a client so Taiga showed us around his wonderful garden.

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Japanese dogwood, Cornus kousa

A new house has been added since I last visited and the nursery area rearranged. To me this garden is just as neat as that of Shinji Suzuki. You could eat off the floor, all the containers were parallel to the table edge, no weeds, well a couple. A new quarantine greenhouse has been added as well and its full too.

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Taiga welcomed us and introduced us to his student from Holland and apprentice from Spain. As we looked around Taiga freely answered all questions. My friend Joe Noga is traveling with me and had numerous questions on one of our favorite species, Chojubai Japanese flowering quince. Joe propagates this rare cultivar and got some good information from Taiga. We only saw a couple of Satsuki bonsai in this garden but loads of fine quality shoo-in and mame bonsai.

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Taiga has a pair of lemurs

Our visit to Taisho-En Bonsai Garden finished when it began to sprinkle, good planning Kora! Taiga and his apprentices gave us all a lift to the train station , but we had to squeeze 14 people into three cars. Brianne Wong and I rode in the back of a nice new car, well it smelled new. We took another Bullet train back to our Tokyo hotel.

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