2015 Autumn Japan Bonsai Exploration– Part 3

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The 35th Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition takes place at the Miyako Messe in Kyoto, Japan on November 21-24, 2015. This is probably the second most popular and one of the largest bonsai Exhibitions in Japan, at least in Western Japan. Over 250 displays contain many more bonsai since some have two or possibly three trees, plus the shohin bonsai compositions. Only four shohin bonsai compositions were displayed, probably because the Gafu Bonsai Exhibition will take place in the same room in early January which is the top shohin bonsai exhibition.

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The quality of bonsai selected for the exhibition is not as high as the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition in February. But rather, professional bonsai artists select trees from their clients. Mr. Kimura told me that actually the judging for this exhibition is much more difficult than the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition because only one tree per category must be selected, while for the February exhibition approximately five trees are selected for the coveted Kokufu Prize.

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Set up and judging take place on Friday, the day before the opening of the exhibition. Three or four outstanding bonsai from each category are selected by professional bonsai artists. The trees were placed on long tables down the center of the exhibition hall in the following categories: large, medium and small size evergreen, deciduous and satsuki bonsai. Then shohin bonsai, rock plantings, literati style and several suiseki categories. I was surprised to see only one, two or three stones were selected for each category, but many more were in the exhibition.

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After lunch comes the interesting part, as the judges make the final selections for the top awards. All of the bonsai selected in the morning are outstanding, and any would be worthy of awards. However, several of the final judges are not too familiar with bonsai but are important art, media and political figures. Of course the top officers of the Nippon: Bonsai, Shohin, Professional, Suiseki and other organizations are members of the judging team. They sometimes guide the others into the fine qualities of bonsai.

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A few days ago I noticed two outstanding bonsai in Mr. Kimura’s garden which belong to his clients I guessed they would be prize winners. Both were excellent and both won the top two awards, a Japanese black pine and Needle juniper. I guessed correctly…..

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There were three special displays by: Mr. Baba with a comprehensive display of vintage Tokufuji containers, a Korean hornbeam bonsai display from a client of Kenji Oshima and a new modern display from one of Shiji Suzuki’s clients. This was a most unique “modern display” designed by Seiji Morimae. I was surprised that the bright silver background photographed nicely, much better than the purple, green and yellow backgrounds of the main exhibit. Have you ever tried to photograph a golden Trident maple against a yellow background? Although photos were again allowed by the general public (GREAT), the trees were displayed for aesthetic appreciation rather than for photos so anything I can capture is good. Each tree was professionally photographed for the upcoming commemorative album.

 

Modern Bonsai Display designed by Seiji Morimae featuring three bonsai and two suiseki from Shinji Suzuki’s client

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Enjoy the nearly 50 photos of “bonsai porn” as my friends call the photos in this blog. Also, please remember that finer quality photos will be published in a future issue of International BONSAI magazine. These photos are only quickly adjusted to show you highlights of our bonsai tours. There was not a blog entry yesterday because my jet lag is now over and got a good night’s sleep rather than waking up at 3 am to correct photos and produce this blog. More to come from this superb exhibition, plus another fine surprise.

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Difficult to explain this exhibit, come to one of my programs…

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