Several bonsai collectors had their own individual displays at the World Bonsai Convention. These were not simply a few tables put together to feature their own personal collections of bonsai, suiseki and antique containers. But, rather full blown displays, which would make any bonsai club, show envious. Many of their bonsai are easily valued at more than an entire club show. One of the bonsai on display, I’m not saying which one, is valued at over US$450,000. Here are a few of the collections which I think you might enjoy which I was able to photograph. Some were so crowded it was impossible to photographed.
This unusual display was rather modern compared to traditional Japanese presentations and was designed by Seiji Morimae, proprietor of S Cube. The display was “U” shaped with a collection of antique containers in the center on individual pedestals in glass cases so they could be enjoyed from all sides. The black background accented with red was rather striking and really presented the bonsai well, but were difficult to photograph. Masahiko Kimura originally created many of the bonsai.
Shinji Suzuki maintains this collection and our group saw several of the bonsai in his garden a few days after the World Bonsai Convention. A few of my photographs of them in Mr. Suzuki’s garden came out better than in the convention display.
Mr. Funayama has a private collection of primarily Japanese five-needle pine bonsai at his home, north of Tokyo. Additionally he has a rather valuable collection of antique containers, although they were not displayed. His display, also designed by Seiji Morimae, was a walk through presentation with two long low boxes filled with sand and many suiseki adorned with moss in the center. Two pines, one on each end of the two long boxes combined with the stones and moss reminded me of scenic Japan. The boxes were surrounded by bonsai with a light yellow background, which was similar in color to many of the pines, which made them difficult to photograph.
Seiji Morimae and his assistants also maintain the Funayama Collection. A few years ago he took me to visit Mr. Funayama. During lunch Mr. Funayama showed me an old photograph of one of his prized Japanese five-needle pine bonsai from an exhibition around 1940. The photo was so old that it was in black and white, rather than color. That was the last time it was displayed until the Asia Pacific Bonsai & Suiseki Convention in Takamatsu held in November 2011. Mr. Morimae designed and had handmae in China for this bonsai which was valued at US$1,000,000.
The Nippon Suiseki Association had a special area for their display of the 100 finest Japanese suiseki. Individually, I’ve been fortunate to have seen many of these masterpieces, but never have I seen so many in one exhibit before. I doubt if many of the 45,000 visitors to the World Bonsai Convention realized what they were looking at. Since many of the stones were small in size, but huge in suggestive expression they were displayed under glass for protection.
This exhibit was again designed by Seiji Morimae who is the chief director of the Nippon Suiseki Association which is headed up by Kunio Kobayashi.
Since this special display was near the entrance to the exhibition it was quite crowded and also difficult to photograph against the gold background. Mr. Hasaka has one of the finest bonsai collections primarily of pine bonsai. His new garden is near Nikko.
Saika Bonsai & Photo Collaboration
Saika bonsai is a rather unusual style of bonsai created and promoted by Kaori Yamada, the 5th generation of Seiko-en Bonsai Garden in Omiya Bonsai Village. Her father, Tomio Yamada is a prominent bonsai artist who has excellent refined taste and maintained the Takagi Bonsai Collection which was the beginning of the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum.
Originally Keiko Yamada did not want to join the family bonsai business and graduated college with a degree in marketing and wanted to become a flight attendant. But her love of bonsai became strong and she wanted expand the art to women and young people because bonsai is considered to be an old man’s hobby which seemed to by dying out in Japan. She invented “Saika Bonsai,” which means colorful flower bonsai which uses flowers and grasses along with trees, usually in a container small enough to be held in two hands to make it easy for women to handle. Saika bonsai has become popular and she has authored several books and hosted weekly TV series as well as teaching at the family bonsai garden in Omiya.
Her special display at the World Bonsai Convention was titled “Timeless Moment a Collaboration of Saika Bonsai & Photographs by Hiroyuki Kudoh.” It was presented in a unique black setting of two rooms, each with two saika bonsai and one large photograph. Hiroyuki Kudoh is a professional photographer who shoots landscapes in the northern regions of Japan for magazines and books. Ms. Yamada’s style is to express scenery in a limited atmosphere and has captured the attention of women and other young people.
Its interesting to note that another new bonsai form “saikei” which was invented by Toshio Kawamoto in the 1960s after World War II was not represented at the World Bonsai Convention because the form does not have any followers in Japan. Saikei, which is a registered trademark, seems to be more popular outside Japan.