2015 89th Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition– Part 2


Part 2 of Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition was held on February 10-13, 2015 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan, following a day closed where 181 bonsai displays were replaced with all new bonsai, except for the four special displays. The Japan Suiseki Exhibition opened on the closed day and the Ueno Green Club sales area was also open for visitors.



These two views may quickly seem similar to Part 1, however all the trees are new. However under close examination a few of the companion plantings were identical, but slightly rotated. I’m not certain because my personal study of Part 2 has not been completed yet, but I think I remember seeing a few display tables from Part 1.


Japanese five-needle pine, Pinus parviflora


Gardenia, Gardenia jasmoindes


Zuisho Japanese five-needle pine, Pinus parviflora ‘Zuisjo.’ Perhaps the reason for the increased number of this choice cultivar is because most are approximately only 50 years old and only now beginning to show aged rough bark. This cultivar is slow to start developing, but once established quickly grows fat. There have been several articles on Zuisho Japanese five-needle pine in International BONSAI authored by Julian Adams who has mastered the cultivation and propagation of this cultivar in the United States.


A colorful companion planting used for a shohin bonsai composition. Again, like Part 1, only five displays were shown.


This shohin Japanese grey bark elm, Zelkova serrata, had the finest twigs I’ve ever seen on a bonsai!


A small size Toyo Nishiki Japanese flowering quince, Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Toyo Nishiki’ with multiple colored flowers. Although red, pink and white blossoms are common for this great cultivar, I’ve often seen red branches grafted onto specimens to improve color distribution.


Chojubai Japanese flowering quince, Chaenomeles japonica ‘Chojubai.’ This species was quite common in both Part1 and Part 2, both as main trees in a medium size display and used as companion plantings. They are often planted on or with stones or in the multiple trunk style because they do not form thick trunks. The word “chojubai” means long life Japanese flowering apricot because the flowers and rough bark are similar to Prunus mume, also the flowers blossom for a long period of time, commonly from autumn through winter to spring.

Kokufu Award Winners


Japanese five-needle pine, Pinus parviflora. This bonsai has an interesting history and I saw it auctioned many years ago for over US $500,000. I’ve got photos of the auction, but recently delete them from my laptop collection of over 40,000 images. I needed to make room for new photos. But, of course I have original photos archived at home.


Trident maple, Acer buergerianum


Chinese quince, Pseudocydonia sinensis


Japanese grey-bark elm, Zelkova serrata


Japanese five-needle pine, Pinus parviflora

The “day off” or closed day was well worth the wait! A few observations on Part 2. The individual number of the following species seemed to be increased from Part 1: Satsuki azaleas, Zuisho Japanese five-needle pine and Japanese flowering apricots, many of which were blossoming or with opening flowers. There were two Twisted trunk pomegranate and even a Japanese larch, which is rarely seen in a Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition, or at least I’ve never seen on in a past exhibition. This cold loving species is not generally cultivated in the Tokyo region or from areas further south. Although Ezo spruce is also native to the same areas and is commonly seen is perhaps Japanese larch does not enjoy high humidity.
Japanese larch, Larix kaempferi
To me, the quality of individual specimens seemed a bit more refined, or at least to my taste in Part 2, compared to Part 1 of the exhibition. Again, like in the first showing, four rooms were filled with 181 displays each having a six foot width of beautiful compositions.
Needle juniper, Juniperus rigida displayed with an unusual companion planting
There were only two displays by foreigners, both Americans who I am not familiar with.
Itoigawa shimpaku juniper, Juniperus chinenensis var. Sargentii ‘Itoigawa,’ displayed by Larry Rahbone.
Itoigawa shimpaku juniper, Juniperus chinenensis var. Sargentii ‘Itoigawa,’ displayed by Victoria Dickinson.
Chinese quince, Pseudocydonia sinensis, created from air layering the top off another bonsai.
Dwarf camellia, Camellia luchuensis
Japanese five-needle pine, Pinus parviflora
Hinoki cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa
Dwarf Japanese flowering quince, Chaenomeles japonica
Japanese grey-bark elm, Zelkova serrata
I hope you have enjoyed my photos of both parts of this year’s Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. If you want to see better photos of the masterpiece bonsai on display, kindly subscribe to International BONSAI at http://www.internationalbonsai.com.  The official exhibition album showing over 400 individual bonsai will also be available from my web site as well.
Our bonsai tour is not over yet and I still have more photos, visits and experiences to share with friends, but need to find the time to process the photos. More coming……

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