Today we visited the top bonsai gardens and collections in the Nagoya area on our private bus.
Daiju-en Bonsai Garden
Toro Suzuki is the third generation proprietor of Daiju-en Bonsai Garden in Okazaki, Japan. His grandfather, Saichi Suzuki, was one of the greatest pine bonsai masters of all time and is responsible for the introduction of Zuisho Japanese five-needle pine and the Princess persimmon. His father Toshinori Suzuki continued in his father’s footsteps of training masterpiece bonsai and added Needle junipers to one of his specialties. Many of the now common pine training techniques for shortening needles came from Saichi and Toshinori Suzuki. Toro Suzuki is in charge of the Nippon Taikan Bonsai Exhibition which finishes today.
Toro Suzuki continues to specialize in Japanese black pine bonsai, but also has a great number of Japanese five-needle pine and Chinese quince. Dean Harrell from Virginia is currently studing with him along with a short term apprentice from France. They showed us around and answered all our questions along with Mrs. Suzuki who also speaks English.
Our next stop was at Shinpuku-ji Temple nearby, which was founded in 594 AD. The head priest Mr. Omura is a serious bonsai collector and has one of the finest collection of masterpiece trees. Among the famous bonsai are three Japanese five-needle pines which were created by Saichi Suzuki over 50 years ago.
Siri Wish from Thailand
Every autumn Boon Manikivipart from California has been helping Mr. Omura for a week, this time with his student Siri Wish from Thailand. The only other “person” I know named Siri talks to me on my iPhone. They were removing the old foliage of beautiful Chinese quince bonsai, a new addition to the collection originally from Shinji Suzuki.
One medium size Japanese five-needle pine was recently displayed in a Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. I remember seeing this tree and commenting on the rough bark and short straight needles. Boon told me to look at the tree closely as every branch was grafted on to a rough bark Japanese five needle pine by Saichi Suzuki over 50 years ago.
We enjoyed an unusual vegetarian luncheon at the temple featuring bamboo delicacies as well as bowls and eating implements.
Aichi-en Bonsai Garden
Our final stop for the day was at Aichi-en Bonsai Garden. Proprietor Junichiro Tanaka studied at Daiju-en Bonsai Garden under Toro Suzuki and is now his son in law. Mr. Tanaka is the fourth generation proprietor of Aichi-en Bonsai Garden and has several trees started from his great grandfather from the late 1800s. He specializes in maple and pine bonsai, but has a great number of unusual species including a Kiwi and Japanese Andromeda. There is a lot of grafting going on there as well as redesigning old bonsai into magnificent masterpieces.
Jun Andrade from Costa Rica is now studying with Mr. Tanaka along with Danny Coffey from the United States and John Milton from England. I found it interesting that Mr. Tanaka teaches is students in English and that he only has foreign apprentices. They showed us around and it was great having three English speaking guides pointing out interesting bonsai with background stories.
Juan Andrade showing a heavy trunk Chojubai Japanese flowering quince
Tomorrow I leave for home, but will first stop in Tokoname city to visit one of my favorite artists “Reiho.” so this will be my final blog entry for this trip, unless I see something interesting.
Julian Adams rubbing statue hoping to grow hair
I hope you have enjoyed my personal thoughts and photos of my bonsai travels. If you want to see better photos, subscribe to International BONSAI at:
If you would personally like to travel to Japan with me and experience a bit of the Japanese bonsai community and see fine-quality bonsai and exhibitions, consider joining me in early February for the 89th Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition which will be held in two parts (over 500 bonsai on display) as well as the opening of the 2nd Japan Suiseki Exhibition. Of course we will be visiting Omiya Bonsai Village, Masahiko Kimura’s garden, S-Cube (Seiji Morimae), Kunio Kobayashi’s Shunka-en Bonsai Museum as well as the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum. Information in our web site at:
or you can e-mail me at:
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Happy Thanksgiving, we all have a great deal to be thankful for this year.