2016 Autumn Japan Bonsai Exploration– Part 7 (Final)

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Today we visited the city of Tokoname, which is well known in the world wide bonsai community for producing excellent bonsai containers. The city of Tokoname is one of the oldest pottery towns having been established in the 12th Century. It is best known for producing toilets, sewer tiles and teapots. Bonsai container production has dropped significantly and currently less than ten kilns are producing bonsai containers. It must be remembered that there are many different quality levels of Tokoname made containers. The importation of contemporary Chinese containers is probably the reason for the kiln closing. Many of the Chinese containers are better quality and less expensive than some low quality Tokoname containers.

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We visited the show rooms of several different kilns both before and after lunch. The first stop was at the Yamaaki Kiln, which produces very fine quality containers of “normal” sizes. Mostly unglazed brown, they began to produce containers with a light blue glaze. They have not produced any new containers in the past three/four years.

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Reiho mixing glaze

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Dipping the container into the glaze. Note the drainage holes are plugged with corks, which are quickly removed after dipping.

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The famous Reiho seal put on the bottom of all containers.

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Mr. & Mrs. Reiho. She makes great smaller containers.

Shuho Kiln was our next stop which specializes in beautiful and unusual glazed containers. We saw mostly small and shohin bonsai containers.

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Typical street scene where the bonsai potters live and work.

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Mr. Shuho near one of his kilns.

The Ikko Kiln makes all sizes of bonsai containers, both glazed and unglazed. The detail work is superb, as are some pretty unusual glazes.

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Mr. Ikko and his son.

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Another one of my favorite kilns is the Koyo Kiln, which specializes in mostly smaller size glazed containers. Since I specialize in deciduous species, its no wonder why I prefer Reiho and Koyo containers. I noticed a rather unusual companion planting container, which looks like a doughnut, complete with a hole in the center. I picked one up and hope it makes it back home in one piece, if not I have Superglue. Plans are to use it in one of my displays at the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo on December 3-4, 2016 in Kannapolis, North Carolina. More information at: www.winterbonsai.net

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Mr. Koyo with a great publication!

Our final stop was at the Gyozan Kiln, which is currently considered to be the number one potter in Japan. All of the containers are hand built, using no molds. Most of his containers are unglazed, but Gyozan is now producing glazed containers. His wife paints designs and figures on some of the small containers. I’ve been looking for a special container for my Dwarf ezo spruce bonsai. I showed Gyozan a photo of the bonsai with dimensions and he is going to make a container for my tree. Hopefully I can pick it up in April during our tour to Japan for the World Bonsai Convention.

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He had a rather unusual display at this year’s Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition in Kyoto. Gyozan displayed his new design for a container holding both the main bonsai and companion planting in one piece.

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Mr. Gyozan will also be demonstrating at the World Bonsai Convention in April.

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Tomorrow we fly home, into the snow for me, in time for Thanksgiving. I hope everyone has enjoyed my blogs, as I enjoy sharing new things I see and learn. Keep watching for blog entries next week from the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo in Kannapolis, North Carolina and then the next day from China for the Global Bonsai Summit. Have a good and safe Thanksgiving!

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Pretty large size Lucky Kitty ready for Christmas!

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