2015 89th Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition– Part 1 Continued


Sunday was the busiest day of the exhibition. There was about a 45 minute wait to get inside. We were at the museum just before the opening at 9:30 am and still had to wait a considerable time, which was well worth the time. Even when we left several hours later there was a line, but a bit shorter than earlier.
Sargent juniper, Juniperus chinensis var. Sargentii ‘Itoigawa’
Shishigashira Japanese maple, Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’
Japanese black pine, Pinus thunbergii
Pearl Bush, Enkianthus perulatus. An uncommon species trained for bonsai, usually used as hedges.
Ezo spruce, Picea glehnii
Of course it was way to busy to even consider photographing the trees with thousands of people, so as usual we returned about 3pm in the afternoon and easily walked in. The crowd was thinning out and by the time we left, just after 4pm the exhibition was empty, except for all the bonsai artists who began to assemble just before 4pm to take their client’s trees back to their gardens.
Lower level main display room featuring large size bonsai with high ceiling… and lots of different light sources
There are four main rooms used for the bonsai exhibition. Downstairs there are two rooms displaying large size trees. The first room is the largest with a very tall ceiling and a multitude of different colored lights, just great for taking “artsy” photos which I was not interested in. The different colored lights were often aimed to highlight certain areas of the bonsai, but often failed to show the inner dead wood areas. But, its important to remember this exhibition does not allow photos so therefore is designed to make the trees look good for the general public. If you want to see better photos, simply subscribe to International BONSAI or purchase an exhibition album, details later.
Lower level display room with large size bonsai and short ceiling
On the same lower level there is a smaller room, also for larger trees, but with a much shorter ceiling. There was an entirely different feeling in that room.
Gallery level room featuring medium and small size bonsai
The next level up was in a gallery which showcased medium and small size bonsai, again with a high ceiling.
Smallest display room featuring shohin bonsai, medium size bonsai and small bonsai
Also on the gallery level, near the end of the exhibition there was a much smaller room, with a shorter ceiling. Small and medium size bonsai, which are gaining in popularity are displayed there in addition to the five shohin bonsai compositions. I’m sure there will also be more shohin bonsai displayed in Part 2 of the exhibition beginning on Tuesday.
Crepe myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, shohin bonsai
Winter flowering cherry, Prunus campanualata
 Japanese black pine, Pinus thunbergii
 Japanese five-needle pine, Pinus parviflora
American Bonsai Exhibitors
Sargent juniper, Juniperus chinensis var. Sargentii ‘Itoigawa’
Douglas Paul
Japanese yew, Taxus cuspidata
Matthew Ouwinga
Sargent juniper, Juniperus chinensis var. Sargentii ‘Itoigawa’
Sean Burke
I saw bonsai displayed by owners from France, Italy and the United States. From America there were three exhibitors: Doug Paul, Matt Ouwinga and Sean Burke.
 Oriental photinia, Photinia villosa
As mentioned we stayed to photograph until the very end of the exhibition, which I found quite interesting and valuable for my personal bonsai education. Actually the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition and Taikan Bonsai Exhibition are currently THE most important part of my bonsai education, which I enjoy sharing with others through my magazine International BONSAI and my teaching activities throughout the world. Through these two exhibitions, the finest in Japan and the world, I can see and learn contemporary classical bonsai design, species characteristics, display compositions, display table styles and matching to trees, companion planting design and display as well as simply enjoying the beauty of great bonsai masterpieces.
 No its not a dandelion!
 Perhaps Winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis… I forgot
Isao Omachi seems happy Part 1 is over!
Note the photo on the transport table matches the bonsai on the display table
At exactly 4pm the artists and their many apprentices slowly began to remove their client’s bonsai. Trees were carefully taken off the display tables and often put on the floor on custom made wooden flats for transportation. Many of those transportation tables even had a photo of the bonsai which belonged on the custom made table attached to the boards. Some had short wooden supports, protected with rubber to avoid damaging the valuable containers, mostly antique Chinese. After placing the trees on the transport tables they were tied with rope to prevent movement. The small flat display tables under the companion plantings were also evenly lined up (which I was delighted to see) in preparation to move them back to the artist’s gardens. I wonder if some of the display tables and companion plantings will be used in Part 2, but probably not. Every bonsai display table was perfectly matched to each bonsai. These tables, which can cost in the tens of thousands of US dollars are often rented by the exhibitors from the handling bonsai artists, as are valuable containers as well. Renting display tables and containers is a popular activity in Japan. The display tables were carefully wrapped in heavy blankets and tied to prevent damage.
Seiji Morimae directing suiseki exhibition set up
Monday is the day all the trees will be changed for Part 2 of the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. But, also, Monday is the opening day of the 2nd Japan Suiseki Exhibition which is in the same museum building, but on a higher floor. We took a sneak peak into that set up and saw Seiji Morimae directing many people so the public would be amazed at not only the beauty of the suiseki by also their presentation.

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