During each one of our bonsai tours to Japan, an unexpected special event happens, mostly connected with Seiji Morimae. Well, this time we really had a unique visit.
Reception room at S-Cube featuring a bonsai from the Iwasaki Collection
We first visited Seiji Morimae and his S-Cube business. The garden is actually named Uchiku Tei which is a contraction of his teacher’s names. He has probably the largest selection of fine quality suiseki and bonsai for sale in Japan located in Hanyu, Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo and Omiya Bonsai Village. Mr. Morimae is the 18th generation of his family still in the garden/horticultural business over a 500 year period. As a renown authority of bonsai, suiseki and display, he has visited the United States many times teaching as well as in China where he is a professor of bonsai in a university. He also has a bonsai garden business in China as well.
We were warmly welcomed by both Mr. & Mrs. Morimae, as well as their lovely daughter who also works with them. The three of them are also welcoming hosts for the 3rd Japan Suiseki Exhibition in Tokyo, but they took time to greet us first, then rushed to the exhibition.
As always, there were a great number of suiseki, containers and other art items for sale. That’s in addition to the bonsai, which are unfortunately not easily imported into the United States. He is also shipping a great number to China.
Mr. Morimae arranged a special display of beautiful suiseki for sale in one of his buildings.
As we were boarding our private mini-van, he offered to have us taken for a short visit to one of his clients, Shoichiro Negishi, which is about a ten minute drive, but on the way to Omiya.
Mr. Negishi is a unique humble individual with impeccable taste, specializing in display and suiseki. He was one of the long time original students of Ichiu Katayama who established the Keido School of Display. His displays are often featured in Japanese bonsai magazines.
His alcove room is a duplicate of his teacher’s. Upon arrival both Mr. and Mrs. Negishi escorted us, past a tea ceremony alcove display into his large reception room. He designed a special seasonal display for us of a Japanese flowering apricot and wooden carving of an old man sleeping in the side alcove. He explained the reasoning of this special display and the calligraphy scroll.
But, on the side he had a small shelve unit with a superb small size suiseki which featured a Japanese flowering apricot tree and flying bird on the left side. His wife is a tea ceremony master and she made and served each of us the traditional frothy bitter green tea. Then Mr. Negishi changed the display and brought out another larger suiseki, also featuring Japanese flowering apricot blossoms. I asked Mr. Negishi how many suiseki he has and the quantity is in the thousands. He also quickly pointed out to me that he has over 1,600 hanging scrolls. What must be understood is the scrolls are museum quality and his suiseki are masterpieces.
On the way out he showed us his garden, which had a lovely pond full of colorful nishiki koi. All of a sudden Mr. Negishi brought out a large net. At first, I thought he was going to catch us a sushi lunch, but rather he was just nudging the fish to swim in the open so we could enjoy their colors. They were cold and hiding under a wooden shade raft. But, it is not unheard of for a host to catch and serve fish sashimi after they are admire. But not nishiki koi are not edible, I think.
Our group with Mr. & Mrs. Negishi