2019 93rd Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition Part 1– Part I


The 93rdedition of the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition is being held on February 9-12, 2019 in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno Park, Tokyo. This, the finest and most prestigious bonsai exhibition in the world has always been held in the same venue for 91 events. When Norio Kobayashi and Count Matsudaira starte d the exhibition in 1934 it was held twice yearly. The exhibition was stopped during WWII, then resumed on a yearly basis. Several years ago the exhibition needed to be moved to a nearby industrial building because the museum was being remodeled to become handicap accessible. The renovations created a smaller exhibition area with fewer number of bonsai being displayed. So, the Nippon Bonsai Association simply changed the show into two parts, thus being able to display more trees and also receive more exhibition fees from their members.


This year there was a noticeably, (for me at least who has attended most of the exhibitions for over 45 years,) fewer trees displayed. This was clearly evident with the removal of one entire row against a far wall and hanging large photos of blossoming satsuki azalea bonsai, with the cultivars in English too. This served two purposes, making wider aisles and adding color to a relatively winter bonsai appearance. The ten fewer bonsai was well compensated by the high quality specimens. I was NOT disappointed.


Also, there were a couple of other changes. The two special exhibits, one from the Imperial Bonsai Collection were moved and also the small room with shohin and medium size bonsai has been rearranged. A couple of nice little changes.





Japanese five-needle pine




Koto Hime Japanese Maple



Kokufu Award

Japanese Flowering Apricot



Kokufu Award

Japanese Maple



Kokufu Award

Sargent Juniper


2019 Part 1 Statistics

151 Individual Bonsai Displays(2018, 161)

97 Large Bonsai(2018, 116)

47 Medium Bonsai(2018, 41)

7 Shohin Bonsai Compositions (2018, 4)

19 Registered Important Bonsai Masterpieces(2018, 18)

3 Kokufu Bonsai Prizes(2018, 5)

“About” 4 Bonsai Displayed with Suiseki(2018, 2)

There may be more, I forgot to count carefully. I’ve only made one visit to this show this year. But, by tonight, I’ll have the entire exhibition memorized, and will need to start all over on Thursday for Part 2.



Japanese Red Pine, Important Bonsai Masterpiece, displayed by Doug Paul, The Kennett Collection.


Tsuyama Hinoki Cypress



Trident Maple



Shishigashira Japanese Maple


IMG_8139   .jpg

Japanese Black Pine




Unryu Boston Ivy



Japanese Maple



Japanese Five-needle Pine



Japanese Fine-tooth Holly



Japanese Five-needle Pine



Zuisho Japanese Five-needle Pine. I used to water and care for this bonsai when I was an apprentice in Omiya Bonsai Village in 1971-1972.

There are many stunning bonsai, several rock plantings which are not common in this exhibition. One interesting clinging-to-a-rock planting displayed on a flat black board with sand surrounding the stone. There were a few stray grains of sand, but I did not want to take the time to clean them up in Photoshop for this blog. As always, the best photos will be published in a future issue of International BONSAI.



Enjoy the photos, which we call “Bonsai Porn.” More photos tomorrow hopefully.