Akio Kondo and his Needle Juniper received the Prime Minister Award
The Japan Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition (Japan Creator’s Bonsai Exhibition) is the only exhibition for professional bonsai artists in Japan. This is a very competitive exhibition and winning artists usually get more publicity and clients upon winning the coveted awards, plus the value of the bonsai is increased.
Judges before ceremony
The 2014 40th Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition judging was held a few hours ago on October 15, 2014 at the Ueno Green Club. In the morning the bonsai finalists were selected and were moved to the third floor where the final selections would be made. Mr. Fukuda, chairman of the Nippon Bonsai Association and chairman of the World Bonsai Friendship Federation and Mr. Hamano, one of the judges invited me to this special event. I’ve been fortunate to watch the judging of many Taikan Bonsai Exhibitions and Kokufu Bonsai Exhibitions but this was the first time for the Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition.
Evergreen bonsai finalists
There were nine judges, and after the winners were announced the tenth arrived late who was a prominent artist, not from the bonsai community. The finalist bonsai were grouped into evergreen, deciduous, medium size, creative (rock and group plantings), literati, satsuki and shohin bonsai. There were two or three bonsai in each category. They were all displayed along three walls of the room so everyone could easily see the bonsai.
Deciduous bonsai finalists
Medium size bonsai finalists
Creative bonsai finalists (rock & group plantings)
Literati bonsai finalists
Satsuki bonsai finalists
Shohin bonsai finalists
Like other judging, each of the nine judges were given a ballot for voting. The votes were immediately announced and tabulated in front of the small audience. Winners were announced for each category.
Akio Kondo when his tree won
Winning bonsai artists
After the bonsai were judged all the winning artists were presented and Akio Kondo, winner of the highest Prime Minister Award made a few comments. At the conclusion everyone left except for the award winners and judges who gathered around a long table. Each judge made comments and then each winner made more comments.
Mr. Fukuda made comments first
Akio Kondo commented day.
Mr. Fukuda mentioned that Akio Kondo’s award winning Needle juniper was rare because it was the only bonsai to have won the Prime Minister Award five times. NEW, after research it was learned that this bonsai won the Prime Minister Award 6 times! This beautiful bonsai was originally created by the Suzuki family of Daiju-en Bonsai Garden near Nagoya. The first generation artist, Saichi Suzuki won with this bonsai as did his son, Toshinori and his grandson Toru. Quite a famous bonsai!
Mr. Kato wanted to encourage more young artists to participate in this exhibition. Mr. Kondo mentioned that he was very honored about his award. This was the 20th time he entered the Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition, but the first time to win the Prime Minister Award. NEW: He continued that he was familiar with this Needle juniper bonsai for a long time and wanted to care for it someday. Three years ago his dream came true and he was finally the caretaker. He was very honored to have the opportunity to submit this bonsai again so others could enjoy its beauty.
Mr. Omachi best literati bonsai
Mr. Akiyama best satsuki bonsai
Mr. Iura best medium bonsai
Mr. Asako best evergreen bonsai
On the second and third floor the bonsai which did not make it into finals were displayed and also photographed for the commemorative album. Each of these bonsai were beautiful as well. There were approximately 50 bonsai entered into the competition including a unique shohin bonsai composition which I did not quite understand, but enjoyed to see the creativity of the artist.
Small leaf Zelkova with tiny leaves!
The 40th Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition will be held on December 4-7, 2014 at the Ueno Green Club in Tokyo, Japan. If you can’t attend the commemorative album will be available for sale.
If you can not travel to Japan and want to see some great bonsai, join me at the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Exhibition in Kannapolis, NC, on the same weekend, December 6-7, 2014. More about this unusual exhibition later, but for now look here: