Kora Dalager’s and my semi-annual tour to see the finest bonsai in Japan began yesterday. First visit for the day was Seiji Morimae’s S-Cube bonsai garden Uchiku-Tei in the city of Hanyu, Japan, approximately one hour north of Tokyo. This season has been quite cold in the Tokyo area (balmy compared to Rochester, NY) and even snowy too, but kind of non-existent compared to our 75 plus inches (200 cm or 2 meters) of the white stuff. The cold weather here in Japan has delayed the Japanese flowering apricot bonsai blossoms, but they are loaded with large plump buds waiting for warmer weather.
S-Cube’s bonsai garden Uchiku-Tei has probably the largest collection of quality bonsai, suiseki, display tables and antiques for bonsai appreciation in Japan. It always amazes me to see what is new that Mr. Morimae’s has assembled and created for sale. This year had a real eye opener surprise for me.
Attached to his office complex there is a long display room filled with fine quality containers, suiseki and more, many of which originated from the famous Takagi Bonsai Collection. This time, however, I saw many empty shelves and thought to myself business must be good for Mr. Morimae. Then his daughter phoned to tell me to be sure to visit the new “Antique Building.” The huge building must be recently completed, as the paint has not dried yet. No, in keeping with the quiet aesthetic taste of Mr. Morimae all the walls are left natural to develop patina, BUT I did notice a wall outlet for i Phones. He once mentioned to me that “time is money” and it’s necessary for him to be connected at all times with his clients. As we were shopping his workers were moving all his antiques from his old display room to the new “Antique Building” which explained the many bare shelves.
Next stop was the bonsai garden of Masahiko Kimura who welcomed us and showed us his newest creations, large clinging-to-a-rock bonsai. Many were already sold to Chinese clients.
Next to his small lawn area framed with neatly shaped azaleas, I noticed something which appeared to be rather large piece of dead wood which was being carved. It was at least six feet tall and wide, over half the size of the car in front of it. The reason it looked like the beginning of a wooden sculpture is because all the foliage was neatly tied up in black shade cloth on the top. The area was dark and the foliage of the ancient Japanese yew, which was collected on Hokkaido Island, could not be easily seen. There was also snow around much of the base and the entire tree was mounded on a large skid reinforced by heavy metal. Mr. Kimura was studying his newest creation and said it is moved using a fork lift. I look forward to seeing this new bonsai creation in the future.
By the way, I recently discovered an EXCELLENT new Facebook page, Kimura’s Home Bonsai. I’m not certain, but think it’s written, photographed and videoed by one of his apprentices. VERY interesting! The videos are clear and show details on Mr. Kimura’s work. There was a recent post on how he carves, paints, highlights and plants a large rock planting. Check it out:
If you want to learn more about Masahiko Kimura you can also check out my International BONSAI magazine, the first and only professional bonsai magazine published in the United States. My most recent issue, Volume 40, issue No. 154 includes “Masahiko Kimura’s Fun Bonsai Classroom- Lesson 24” which details in 33 perfect color photos and text how he selects branches and refines an ancient Japanese red pine literati bonsai. In the past we have also featured Mr. Kimura in over 50 articles on the “Beauty of Masahiko Kimura’s Bonsai.” Check out these great and educational articles for more about his bonsai. You can easily subscribe at:
Next stop was a delicious lunch at Yoshi Nakamizu’s Omiya Bonsai Restaurant across the street from the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum where went following lunch. Several of the masterpiece Japanese flowering apricot bonsai were in full blossom, and fortunately they were in the two areas where photos were allowed.
The museum was promoting a special one-man show of the beauty of Hiroshi Takeyama’s bonsai. This exhibit runs for a month from February 16 to March 14, 2018 and I’m quite sad to miss the showing of Mr. Takeyama’s bonsai. He is, probably my favorite bonsai artist I admire in Japan, well known around the world for his deciduous, forest plantings and unusual species bonsai.
Nearby we stopped at the Kato’s Mansei-en Bonsai Garden on our way to the Yamada Seiko-en Bonsai Garden, Murata’s Kyuka-en Bonsai Garden finally ending our busy day at Takeyama’s Fuyo-en Bonsai Garden.
Fuyo-en Bonsai Garden is beautiful around the year and this season features his Japanese flowering apricots, which were with full of buds. Several of his tropical species bonsai were being protected from the cold in large boxes sealed with blue tarp
Mr. Takeyama’s exhibition at the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum will feature over 30 of his finest masterpieces which will be changed weekly. Throughout his garden many bonsai were being protected for his showing by wrapping the containers with heavy blankets and towels. A large Magnolia bonsai, with swelling buds was covered with a light weight frost covering. I wish I could attend Mr. Takeyama’s one-man showing, but always enjoy his garden visits where one can learn by carefully studying how the trees are well cared for.