On November 18-19, 2017, S-Cube sponsored and produced a special exhibition for the Genkokai, a small group of bonsai collectors with high quality refined bonsai and suiseki. Held in the Hoshun-In Buddhist temple, established 401 years ago, the complex is normally not open to visitors and entrance to this exhibition was by invitation only. This temple is in the Daitoku-Ji complex of numerous smaller temples of the Rinzai School of Japanese Zen including the popular Daisen-In which is on many garden tours.
The Genkokai is headed by Seiji Morimae comprised of his clients who want to share beautiful bonsai and suiseki from their collections. He has superb taste in bonsai, suiseki and display.
Seiji Morimae designed the displays in the individual 11 rooms of the temple, each holding one to several bonsai or suiseki. Walking quietly through the temple complex small views of gardens presented a peaceful atmosphere for bonsai appreciation. Along with the help of his S-Cube staff Mr. Morimae presented an interesting selection of bonsai and suseki. They all suggest seasonality in quiet surroundings the way bonsai were originally displayed and appreciated.
Even though the lighting was dim, each tree and stone could be clearly seen, studied and appreciated. The low light, was not conducive for photographing, especially since it was necessary to sit on the floor for each display, not good for one of my knees. A single 100 watt light bulb was the only source of light for each room. But, it is important to realize the purpose of this exhibition was not to take good photos in sufficient light, but rather to move your soul while appreciating bonsai and suiseki from private collections which are never or rarely displayed.
As his lovely daughter and wife served green tea in a small tea ceremony room, Mr. Morimae explained a particular display of a Sargent juniper with a viewing stone and long slender scroll with elegant calligraphy, which had a juniper theme. He answered numerous questions as well on duplicating the main subject on display with the scroll. This private mini-lesson was quite educational, visual and gave the opportunity to simply sit back and enjoy the quiet seasonal display Mr. Morimae created for his visitors to this private exhibition. He spoke on the method of displaying bonsai for public exposure and appreciation, such as in the Nippon Bonsai Taikan Ten Exhibition held concurrently across town in Kyoto, and this elegant exhibition with a limited audience held in the same city presenting the opportunity to enjoy the feeling of what the tree and stones were quietly presenting.
I was truly touched with this entire exhibition and the atmosphere of the presentation. Not too many exhibitions do that for me.
In an adjoining building there were two rooms filled with bonsai, suiseki and display tables for sale by S-Cube.
The Genkokai Exhibition was a moving and learning experience personally for me which featured stellar masterpiece bonsai and suiseki. I appreciate Mr. Morimae’s hard work, taste and desire to share the beauty of his client’s trees and stones. It’s important to realize ALL these items must be packed up and trucked back to Hanyu by his friendly and hard working staff. This year only three trucks were necessary to move all the items. Even his wife and daughter were there to help and host visitors.
In one of the small tea ceremony rooms I noticed an unusual tokobashira (alcove post) and asked Mr. Morimae what kind of tree it was. It was an ancient Heavenly bamboo, Nandina domestica….. It’s hard to believe the trunk became so thick. But thinking back, I also now remember seeing a similar size Heavenly bamboo in a small tea house at the Golden Pavilion.