Part 1 of this year’s Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition had 179 exhibits. However, there were five shohin compositions and each had at least five trees. Additionally there were 44 medium size compositions, each having a minimum of two main bonsai, plus companion plantings. That makes a total of more than 300 individual bonsai specimens in Part 1.
In Part 1 of the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition six outstanding bonsai were selected for the coveted Kokufu Award. After the entire exhibition is set up, and before it opens, a small group of officers of the Nippon Bonsai Association goes through the exhibition and selects worthy trees for the Kokufu Awards. There is no set number, but usually about five or six trees win. A special gold colored plaque is set next to the tree. Winning a Kokufu Award can be both good and can be bad. A bonsai can only win once. Therefore, once a tree wins it often is valued more and the price may increase. However, it is disqualified from future Kokufu Awards. That means bonsai brokers may have a difficult time selling the tree to a client in hopes of winning. Kokufu Award winners:
1. Osakazuki Satsuki Azalea
2. Japanese Black Pine
Damaged container foot repaired with gold, respecting the antiquity of the 300-400 year old container
3. Japanese Five-needle Pine
Trunk detail not seen from front
4. Trident Maple
5. Sargent Juniper displayed with Shishigashira Japanese Maple
Shishigashira Japanese Maple
6. Chojubai Japanese Flowering Quince displayed on an exquisite table. This was my favorite bonsai in the exhibition along with the Japanese black pine above. This bonsai has changed hand many times and I saw it in the 2012 Kokfu Bonsai Exhibition.
Small plaque on top is designated for Important Bonsai Masterpiece Bonsai. The lower gold plaque is for the Kokufu Prize
There were 24 Important Bonsai Masterpieces or “kicho” bonsai in the exhibition. These trees have been designated by the Nippon Bonsai Association as special masterpieces because of their beauty or rarity of the species. Once a year new trees are entered for evaluation by the owners of the bonsai. I believe there are over 600 Important Masterpiece Bonsai now. They can be identified by small metal tags hanging on a branch or a silver colored metal plaque. These are often displayed on or next to a bonsai when on display. They are automatically accepted for display in the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition.
There were only five shohin bonsai compositions, but each was spectacular. It is interesting to note the current way of creating shohin bonsai compositions. Usually a box stand is used with an evergreen tree on the top. It faces one way or the other, but it always leads your eye to a side bonsai lower down, often a cascade style evergreen. This style of display is often seen as boring or static by Westerners.
Detail from the side
Shishigashira Japanese Maple
Remember, better quality photos from this exhibition will appear in a future edition of International BONSAI.
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