An Early Spring Visit To Omiya Bonsai Village

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Lorapetalum

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On the way home from Manila I planned a short visit to Japan. It’s been 46 years since I’ve seen early spring in Omiya Bonsai Village. There is no way I could simply travel through Tokyo’s Narita Airport and not get off the plane to see bonsai. But, because of flight problems with United, I got stuck in Guam for six hours. Since I was “cheated” out of six hours of studying bonsai, I decided to stay in Japan for an extra day. Not too painful, but I’ll pay for it because of a scheduled workshop, show meeting and two more workshops a few hours after my “anticipated” return home, but I’m not there yet…. so who knows what will happen.

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The main activity in Omiya Bonsai Village is transplanting. A repotting area was set up in each garden. Loads of soil prepared for each species, and in three different sizes as well. Lots of charcoal was being used too.

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Most of the deciduous species were just beginning to open, while some were in full leaf. Considerable repotting was already completed in Mr. Takeyama’s garden where deciduous bonsai are the main group of bonsai.

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Spring flowering bonsai were featured in the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum with a large Toyo Nishiki Japanese flowering quince bonsai in the lobby. This cultivar is quite popular in the bonsai community because of the multi-colored blossoms. Red, pink and white flowers are normal, but the red blossoms are rare in the United States. Must be the same here in Japan too because I did not see too many red flowers. In autumn I saw many red branches grafted on to established bonsai.

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I was quite impressed with the number of masterpiece bonsai in Mansei-en Bonsai Garden, but one had to look closely to find them as there are twice or three times the number of bonsai that the garden can hold. The outside parking area is already overflowing with many tables.

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Note how carefully the tree is being held to protect the ancient flaking bark

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During my visit to Tomio Yamada’s Seiko-en Bonsai Garden I got lucky. Mr. Yamada was overseeing the transplanting of an old Japanese red pine bonsai by two apprentices. The root system was already worked and wrapped in moist rags for protection while the container was being prepared. Mr. Yamada directed the mixing of soil with charcoal and how it was shaped in the container before the tree was placed into the pot. Mr. Yamada was trimming a Japanese flowering apricot bonsai a few feet away. After an apprentice placed the tree in the pot Mr. Yamada suddenly appeared and directed the exact positioning of the trunk, checking from all sides. That’s after he made the two apprentices remove the tree and add more soil to raise the height to the correct level.

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The quiet atmosphere of the entire bonsai village was wonderful and peaceful and allowed me to look, learn and absorb new information, which I can share through my teaching and magazine.

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