An Autumn Visit To Omiya Bonsai Village

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Today we spent a pleasant 68F sunny day in Omiya, Japan. Our small group of only six people afforded us the opportunity to get around easily and have plenty of time to absorb the beauty of beautiful Japanese bonsai.

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Our first stop was the bonsai garden of Masahiko Kimura, The Magician. I immediately noticed the increased number of tall rock plantings he created after carving and painting the stones. He is “playing” with bonsai… I’ll explain later.

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There are always new bonsai creations in Mr. Kimura’s garden to view and study. There was a stunning Japanese black pine which was truly spectacular, but I did not photograph it, yet. It is destined for the Nippon Bonsai Taikan.

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Exhibition which will be held next week in Kyoto. I can get a better photo then. Perhaps it will win one of the top awards, as his bonsai are usually winners, but it all depends on the judges…

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Next, I noticed there were several empty “monkey poles” where several of his finest masterpieces are kept. They are now on display at the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, which was our next stop. In spring the museum began a new “one man showing” of Contemporary Bonsai Masters. The first artist to be featured was Hiroshi Takeyama who specializes in deciduous, unusual and forest bonsai. The second featured artist is Masahiko Kimura and exhibition is titled: “Playing With Bonsai, The Origin Of His Works.” Photographs and signage in both Japanese and English explain his life with bonsai from an early age to the present. This special exhibit runs from October 26 to November 21, 2018. It includes approximately 20 to 30 of his finest masterpieces. The exhibition was changed several times during the exhibition. These Contemporary Bonsai Master series are in addition to the beautiful collection the museum displays daily. He also presented a demonstration on October 28th.

The 28 page exhibition guide full of Mr. Kimura’s masterpieces is in both Japanese and English with great photos and interesting information and his philosophy and thoughts on creation. According to Mr. Kimura, play is different from work, and the sources of creativity in the creation of bonsai. Through play he is able to create bonsai based on how bonsai should be using his sense of feeling and inspiration. He was greatly impressed with the tall Huangshan Mountains, Wulingyuan area and Sanxia Valley in China. Through play, which he sees as the opposite side of professional work, he has been able to make use of his strong sense of inspiration in creating bonsai.

Check out “Kimura’s Home Bonsai” youtube series which describes many of his interesting creative works, including how to sculpt rocks at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbF-l9bb2veRvn3wEZfs3QA

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In his garden, he has a huge Japanese yew which is estimated to be 1,000 years in age. I saw it in February this year, and in fact, included a photo of it in my blog from February 2018, look it up. This bonsai has not been in training too long. The exhibition guide said, in English, that it was collected from Hokkaido in April 2018. Now remember I already saw and photographed it in February. Perhaps the tree was trained since April, not collected in April. Now it is growing in a wooden box and it was first displayed in his exhibition a few weeks earlier. It already has been featured in Kinbon Magazinein a beautiful ceramic bonsai container which was added with Photoshop. According to Mr. Kimura this tree is a rare world-class material. The final form of this bonsai is yet to come, and I look forward to watching and learning from the tree.

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I noticed a cascade style Ezo spruce bonsai in Mr. Kimura’s garden which looked familiar. Well, it should because it is featured in Mr. Kimura’s article in the upcoming issue of International BONSAI. This issue will soon be in the mail. If you are not a subscriber, you can easily subscribe to the first and only professional bonsai magazine published in the United States here:

http://www.internationalbonsai.com/product/IBM-652343450

Now, what I found particularly interesting is that I mentioned to one of Mr. Kimura’s long time apprentices, Andrei Bessonov, from Russia, that his photo is included in Mr. Kimura’s article about shaping the Ezo spruce bonsai. He responded that this bonsai was accepted to be displayed in the Sakufu Bonsai Exhibition, which is the professional Creation Exhibition next month under HIS name as an apprentice’s creation. Congratulations to Andrei!

Details are important in the creation and appreciation of bonsai. Look at the base of this large size Japanese five-needle pine bonsai….

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I also saw an interesting Sargent juniper bonsai with roots being added to the bottom left side of the trunk. It is potted in a deep wooden training box to promote healthy fast vigorous growth.

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The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum featured Mr. Kimura’s magnificent bonsai masterpieces which could not be photographed. But I was able to shoot a short video from the second floor balcony.

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Walking through the Omiya Bonsai Village I noticed an “Old Friend” sitting outside Mr. Kato’s Mansei-en Bonsai Garden. The last time I saw this tree was in Mr. Iwasaki’s Takasago-an garden in Niihama, Shikoku Island, Japan. Its a truly magnificent Needle juniper garden tree.

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Hiroshi Takeyama’s Fuyo-en Bonsai Garden is one of my favorite bonsai destinations in Japan. The warm weather in Japan has slightly delayed the beautiful color of the bonsai in his garden. But, if you want to see brilliant color in a bonsai garden take a look at this image of my garden and check out my last blog.

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