Here are the last images from this year’s tour to Japan to visit the Kokufu Bonsai & Japan Suiseki Exhibitions, Omiya Bonsai Village, S-Cube, Masahiro Kimura and Kunio Kobayashi’s gardens.
Do you recognize this Japanese five-needle pine bonsai? I did. It was featured in the video Shinji Suzuki produced many years ago. He was trying to decide if he should enter it in the professional Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition. He wanted to show it, but Seiji Morimae told him it would not win and to make up his own mind. Mr. Suzuki did enter the competition with this bonsai, and of course, did not win. Today I think it would win that exhibition.
I was surprised to see so much needle variation on the Ezo spruce bonsai. The Ezo spruce, Picea glehnii, is commonly trained for bonsai in colder areas. Native to the Hokkaido area they love cold and snow. Many people confuse Ezo spruce, Picea glehnii, with the Black Ezo spruce (also called Sakhalin spruce or Yezo spruce) Picea jezoensis, which is NOT trained for bonsai in Japan. The needles are too long and coarse for bonsai.
There are probably two reasons for the great variation of the Ezo spruce bonsai in this exhibition. First is the natural seedling variation and the second reason has to do with the pinching techniques for new growth. The needles of course reduce in size according to the years and decades of training and containerization. The color differences may be cultural and again seedling variations.
Bonsai and suiseki exhibitions attract people from all walks of life. I saw this lovely young lady studying the suiseki exhibit and asked to take her photo. She smiled, agreed and even posed for the photo. But I forgot to ask her why she was dressed up….