2016 Autumn Japan Bonsai Exploration– Part 4


1Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition

The Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition is the largest bonsai exhibition in western Japan held in Kyoto, just down the street from the Heian Shrine. Professional bonsai artists select trees from their clients who want to display. It’s kind of easy to have a tree accepted for this exhibition, much more than the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition, which is highly judged. Entry fees are similar, $500 and $1,000 spots, depending on the size. So actually there is a wide quality range of bonsai in the Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition. This year there are some pretty awesome bonsai. Each year the quality seems to go up. I can’t figure out where all these beautiful bonsai come from. Very few are repeated and the top winners from the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition are also displayed here.



Set up and judging day are on Friday this year, which is quite interesting an educational for me. I appreciate the privilege of watching and photographing. The exhibition committee headed up by Toru Suzuki does the pre-selection for awards in the morning. They select the best three or four bonsai from each category.



Then those finalists are brought in a long row for the judging which begins after lunch. This year there were 13 judges, primarily the heads of the various bonsai organizations: professional, amateur, two shohin societies and suiseki. Additionally art critics and other politically important people are included. So, actually, ANY tree, which is selected, is high quality masterpiece. And, those finalists who do not win the “best deciduous, shohin, suiseki, forest, literati and evergreen categories” also win other awards. I saw and heard one judge ask “what kind of tree is this?” It was a maple….


Remember a few days ago I showed a cart full of bonsai in Mr. Kimura’s garden? Well, I was correct. One of those won the top Prime Minister Award. I wonder if I could get president-elect Trump to sponsor such a top award for the next US National Bonsai Exhibition?


Technology is GREAT!

Before, during and after the judging, during the non-crowded times I began photographing the bonsai. I had a problem with my camera, which I could not figure out, the display screen was bright green. No problem, I simply turned on my personal wifi hot spot and got connected to the Internet free. Then turned on Facetime on my iPhone and called Joe Noga in North Carolina who corrects my poor images for the magazine. He has taught color reproduction for over 35 years at the Rochester Institute of Technology, one of the finest photographic and printing colleges in the United States and retired to North Carolina. He helps me adjust all photos for my magazine and is official photographer for the US National Bonsai Exhibitions and also the upcoming Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo in North Carolina next weekend.



I showed him the green display screen through Facetime and we figured out the Expo Disk used to set the white balance was put on the lens backwards. My operator error! So, while I had him on the iPhone, I showed him a bit of the exhibition and he even greeted Mr. Kimura and Peter Warren as they walked pass. The remaining photos came out OK.


Please remember the photos posted in my blog and Internet forums are MY versions. The perfectly adjusted photos, which are in focus and in the correct color balance, will appear in a future issue of International BONSAI. So if you want to see perfect photos you will need to subscribe:









These photos were taken before the entire exhibition was set up was finalized, trees are being moved and better views will be coming tomorrow after the exhibition opens.










As my good friend and assistant Alan Adair says, enjoy the “Bonsai Porn” photos.

PS: I was just thinking: Does this mean that Bjorn and I are “Bonsai Pornographers?”